UN maritime agency endorses campaign for fair treatment of seafarers

25 February 2008

The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has given his backing to a new campaign to raise the awareness of seafarers of their rights to fair treatment in the case of accidents at sea.

The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has given his backing to a new campaign to raise the awareness of seafarers of their rights to fair treatment in the case of accidents at sea.

The campaign is spearheaded by the International Shipping Federation (ISF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to promote guidelines on the issue developed by the IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to the guidelines, all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly when detained by public authorities in the event of a maritime accident.

“Seafarers serving throughout the shipping industry will not only have a clearer understanding of the fundamental elements of fair treatment in the unfortunate event they are caught up in a maritime accident, but they will also feel encouraged by the knowledge that they have the international community at their side, which, should the situation arise, is prepared and willing to pay attention to their plight,” IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said.

He added that the campaign will, among other things, reassure young people considering a career at sea that” seafarers are not alone and unprotected when something goes wrong while at sea.”

Through the use of posters, seafarers around the world will be informed of the guidelines, which state that seafarers are recognized as a special category of worker. As such, and given the global nature of the shipping industry and the different jurisdictions with which they operate, they need special protection, especially in relation to contact with public authorities.

The guidelines recommend steps to be taken by all those who may be involved in an incident: the port or coastal State, flag State, the seafarer’s State, the owner of the ship and seafarers themselves.

They also seek to ensure that no discriminatory or retaliatory measures are taken against seafarers because of their participation in investigations.

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