Seafarer rights project launched

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), along with SSI members, have launched a new project focusing on seafarers’ labour and human rights.

The joint project, called Delivering on Seafarers’ Rights, will develop a human rights code of conduct for charterers and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges which create human rights risks for seafarers.

Co-led by SSI and IHRB, the project brings together SSI members including China Navigation, Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus, Oldendorff Carriers, RightShip, South32 and Standard Chartered Bank.

There is currently a lack of guidance on how labour and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated

SSI has seen a growing demand from consumers, investors, business partners, governments, and civil society for transparent and sustainable supply chains that address human rights along with environmental concerns,  while charterers are also increasingly under scrutiny with regard to the sustainability of their supply chains including the vessels that transport their cargo.

“There is currently a lack of guidance on how labour and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated.  Plugging this gap is key to strengthening both chartering-related decision-making and due diligence processes,” SSI stated, adding that the project will see charterers play an active role in raising the industry’s bar through the development of an industry code of conduct.

“Respect of the labour and human rights of seafarers worldwide is a key milestone on the road to sustainable shipping. We strongly believe in the power of transparency to drive positive change, and through this work we seek to catalyse collective action and leadership by charterers to advocate for more robust human rights protection within the industry,” said Andrew Stephens, executive director at SSI.

“Covid restrictions have stranded over 300,000 seafarers at sea worldwide, thrusting the human rights risks of shipping into the spotlight as never before. IHRB welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with SSI and its members in raising the bar across the industry whereby respect for international human rights standards becomes part of everyday business. An industry-wide code of conduct affirming the human rights responsibilities of shipowners and operators will help to level the playing field and enable cargo owners and investors to make more informed choices around whom they want to do business with,” added Frances House, deputy chief executive at IHRB.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.


  1. Sounds a worthwhile initiative, if it does what it says it’ll do. You could save a lot of money by opening my Master of Science dissertation on “Trends and Patterns in Human Rights Violations at Sea” completed in 1985. Not much has changed since, apart from the crew’s ability to have back-wages held back by the ship’s owner restored by state intervention. My dissertation, l found to my horror, is the first and only academic treatment of Human Rights Violations at Sea in the history of the world. Shipowners flag out to escape trade union intervention on behalf of seafarers. Now the same shipowners are going to advise how to enforce human rights at sea. Probably the best measure to take would be to reregister their ships under responsible developed world flags.Another Code of Conduct without enforcement teeth will be all “sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Prove me wrong!

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