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SSI launching project for seafarers’ labour and human rights

Photo: Marcus Hand seafarers.jpg
The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) announced the launch of a new project focusing on seafarers’ labour and human rights.

 The joint project 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: The China Navigation Company; Forum for the Future; Louis Dreyfus Company; Oldendorff Carriers; RightShip; South32; and Standard Chartered Bank.

The challenge of protecting and respecting seafarers’ rights was thrust into the spotlight with the emergence of 300,000 plus seafarers stranded at sea due to crew-change restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alongside this increased public awareness of the challenges seafarers worldwide face, there is 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..

Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, this work will bring charterers, shipowners, and operators together for collective action, increasing transparency and driving positive change.

The work will further explore ways in which seafarers’ rights can be addressed by demanding transparency on labour and human rights risks, for example - through contractual terms and chartering provisions.

“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, SSI executive director.                                               

While Frances House, deputy chief executive at IHRB said: “Covid restrictions have stranded over 300,000 seafarers at sea worldwide, thrusting the human rights risks of shipping into the spotlight as never before.

“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.”

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