The Code of Conduct
The Sustainable Shipping Initiative and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, in collaboration with the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, have developed a landmark Code of Conduct - Delivering on Seafarers’ Rights. Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, the Code of Conduct goes beyond the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and focuses on the full spectrum of seafarers’ rights and wellbeing, from fair terms of employment and crew protection to availability and appropriate management of grievance mechanisms.
It brings together shipowners, ship operators and charterers/cargo owners to drive positive change in the industry, through individual and collective action and increased transparency to deliver on seafarers’ rights.
The shipping industry is required to comply with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and other international conventions covering the human rights (which include labour rights) of workers. Like all industry sectors, companies in the shipping sector have a responsibility to respect the human rights of seafarers, including when they are workers in their supply chain, in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
This Code of Conduct seeks to reinforce compliance with the MLC and other relevant maritime conventions, but also to go beyond, focusing on valuing seafarers and the full spectrum of their human rights. It aims to address systemic risks and impacts experienced by seafarers through: (i) emphasising rights in the MLC that are not being adequately enforced; and (ii) covering rights and issues that are important to seafarers but not currently covered in the MLC.
The Code of Conduct deliberately does not cover more technical health and safety issues that are equally important to the rights to life and health of seafarers, as these are covered in the MLC and other more detailed conventions, regulatory requirements, standards, codes and inspections. It assumes that the issues covered by this Code of Conduct will be integrated together with these health and safety requirements into the overall management of all aspects of shipping that affect seafarers.
The Code of Conduct can be used by shipowners and ship operators to understand the extent to which current operations meet their responsibilities, and by charterers/cargo owners to strengthen due diligence that in turn informs chartering-related decision-making. It will be supplemented by practical Self-Assessment Tool but provides an important set of commitments as is. The Code of Conduct was developed by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business and the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights. It brings together shipowners, ship operators and charterers/cargo owners to drive positive change in the industry, through individual and collective action and increased transparency to deliver on seafarers’ rights.
Given the rising attention to human rights, implementing this Code of Conduct is also a way of meeting the growing demands highlighted above and reducing risks through improved compliance.