- Today sees the launch of a landmark Code of Conduct and self-assessment tool developed to protect the human rights and welfare of the world’s nearly two million seafarers.
- The initiative aims to support a safe, healthy and secure onboard work environment, and goes beyond the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
A recent news article published in the Sustainable Shipping states that Shipping industry unites to launch Code of Conduct and self-assessment to protect seafarers’ rights and welfare.
Sustainable Shipping Initiative
The project has been led by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), in collaboration with the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights and RightShip. Key SSI members played an active role in its development, with expert input from Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus Company, Oldendorff Carriers, South32, Standard Chartered Bank, Swire Shipping and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.
The focus will be on the full spectrum of seafarers’ rights and wellbeing, from fair terms of employment and minimum crewing levels to the management of grievance mechanisms. The documents can be accessed here.
Protection of its workforce
“A sustainable shipping industry needs to ensure the protection of its workforce. This presents a unique opportunity for the industry to work together and take concrete action for the rights of nearly 2 million seafarers worldwide, now and in the future” Kristina Kunigenas, Human Rights Lead at the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, said.
Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, the Code of Conduct and self-assessment were created over eight months of consultation and collaboration with shipowners, operators, charterers, cargo owners, seafarers’ associations, civil society and others.
Enabling immediate action
To enable immediate action across the industry, RightShip has launched an online self-assessment tool developed in collaboration with SSI and IHRB.
This freely available questionnaire provides practical guidance on utilising the Code of Conduct, helping shipowners and operators understand their responsibilities while assessing current operations and ways of working, and consequently showing areas for improvement.
Global pandemic brought seafarers rights into focus
“The global pandemic brought seafarers rights firmly into focus, with many crews forced to endure exceptionally difficult conditions to keep global supply chains and trade freely flowing,” notes Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive at IHRB. “We expect a great deal from them and it’s only right that they expect an adequate standard of care, conditions, and quality from us. This is a proud, vital industry that depends on people to keep sailing. This Code of Conduct and self-assessment will help build a platform to respect worker dignity while advancing industry progress. We look forward to widespread engagement from industry stakeholders everywhere.”
Download the Code of Conduct and associated documents: https://www.sustainableshipping.org/seafarers/
Register for the launch webinar on Tuesday October 19: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2WCferIDTeOOB5tMZFMOVA
A few testimonials from SSI members and partners
Cynthia Morel, Senior Sustainability Strategist, Forum for the Future: “This marks a vital step towards ensuring that seafarers’ human rights are respected. We hope that this will lay the foundation for fostering the deeper relationships, connections and trust necessary to ensure the shipping sector commits to honouring human dignity and enabling equitable outcomes in its operations and supply-chains it is active in.”
Scott Jones, Director of Communications at Oldendorff Carriers: “The shipping industry has been, and continues to be, very focused on reducing its carbon footprint. However, it is equally important that we focus on the human element to make sure that seafarers’ rights are respected and that we have a holistic view to make the industry truly sustainable. This Code of Conduct is an important new step in highlighting seafarers’ rights and giving the shipping industry a sustainable future.”
Jostein Hole Kobbelvedt, Executive Director, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights: “There are growing expectations towards companies with regard to adhering to international human rights standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A proactive and systematic approach is necessary. The Rafto Foundation has had the privilege of working with IHRB and SSI to develop the Code of Conduct – Delivering on seafarers’ rights. We hope it will be a valuable tool for the shipping industry in order to promote social sustainability and deliver on human rights.”
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