Norway blacklists shipbuilders over human rights abuses

Norway is pushing to create a shipbuilding regulation akin to the ship recycling sector’s Hong Kong Convention whereby yards will be blacklisted for financing if they are found to have deficient labour and human rights standards.

The initiative is being led by the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency (GIEK), the giant Norwegian state-run financing institution.

Speaking at a human rights in shipping seminar yesterday on the sidelines of the Nor-Shipping exhibition just outside Oslo, Sigrid Brynestad, GIEK’s senior sustainability expert, revealed her organisation has already blacklisted two yards for their human rights abuses. GIEK will not help finance any Norwegian ships at the two yards. Brynestad would not be drawn on which shipyards were subject to the blacklisting.

“Our leverage is money and our leverage is at the building stage,” Brynestad said.

GIEK carries out labour audits and human rights checks with owners at shipyards prior to any Norwegian ship orders.

“We think this gives transparency. People want to build ships that are the cheapest but you have to make sure that this is not because the workers are being paid too little and it is up to finance providers to stop this,” Brynestad said.

The GIEK executive made a call yesterday for others to follow suit.

“Unless we get push from all parties there will be gaps and human rights will fall down them,” she told delegates.

Speaking with Splash after the seminar, Brynestad explained the four aspects GIEK checks for at yards. Candidates to build ships for Norwegian owners must meet local laws, have no child labour, no forced labour and have no major health and safety issues.

Brynestad said a number of Norwegian banks were now following GIEK’s lead and the organisation was in talks with many overseas financial institutions to implement similar measures with a view to the creation of a global standard on labour and human rights for shipbuilding.

Splash is reporting from Nor-Shipping all week.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Being righteous require courage and is much appreciated. Wish Banks and Financial institutions had appreciated the need to include ship management practices adopted by borrowers( shipowners) by way of KYC much earlier. It would have helped not only their survival but also avoided the need to have impractical regulations like some MLC provisions. Seafarers and owners (conventional) both find it adding little value but lot of disruptions in ship management.

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