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Regulation of human rights at sea

Non-governmental organization Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has released a Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea

According to UK-based HRAS, the abuse of human rights has been difficult to report, enforced or remedied given the challenges and underregulated nature of the global maritime environment. The organization hopes to protect the vulnerable seafaring people by drawing up a guideline to regulate and stem the abuse of human rights.

“We estimate that there are around 30m men, women and children at sea at any time. All have human rights. Sadly, they are out of sight and out of mind as far as most people are concerned. Far too often, their human rights are breached or wantonly abused. Those responsible for the ill-treatment of vulnerable people at sea far too frequently act with impunity. This declaration is aimed at protect the vulnerable and ending the impunity of those doing the abusing,” shared Professor Steven Haines, Public International Law, University of Greenwich, who participated in the drafting of the declaration.

Knowing your rights
With the declaration, seafarers will be able to live with the thought that their basic human rights are protected, and their abusers would not get away scot-free. However, it is still important for seafarers to know how to protect themselves and their basic human rights. It is also important to remember the declaration’s four principles:

  1. Human rights are universal; means that anything that happens at sea is accountable for in equal rights as anything that happens on land.
  2. All seafarers and people at sea are entitled to their human rights; means that there is no one person who is entitled to more human rights than another person.
  3. There are no maritime specific reasons for denying human rights at sea; means that there are no excuses for abusing anyone at sea.
  4. All human rights established under both treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea; means that all laws on upholding basic human rights must be adhered to by everyone at sea.

Human Rights at Sea


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