While human rights are not the focus of the draft agreement, the charity believes the agreement should explicitly refer to the applicability of international human rights standards in its implementation. There is an increasing recognition internationally that environmental issues and human rights are inextricably linked, and this is the case as much at sea as it is on land.

The amendments proposed by HRAS are the followed:

  1. Additional clause in the preamble:
    “Recognising the need to promote and encourage the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion in achieving international cooperation to solve international problems,” (Based on UN Charter) or “Recognising that the human rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights apply on sea as they do on land.”
  2. ARTICLE 4: Relationship between this Agreement and the Convention and other [existing] relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies…:
    This Agreement shall be interpreted and applied in a way that [respects the competences of and] does not undermine [existing] relevant legal instruments and frameworks [including international human rights laws] and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies, and that promotes coherence and coordination with those instruments, supportive of and do not run counter to the objectives of the Convention and this agreement [or the purposes contained in the UN Charter] or [5. The provisions of this Agreement shall be interpreted and applied in a manner that respects the rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other relevant international human rights laws.

Given that the drafts focus on the conservation and marine bio-diversity aspects of the proposed treaty, the safety of the human element is missing, leaving a gap for the protections of the people who will be required to ensure the treaty’s success at sea.

Human rights apply at sea as they do on land, but there still remains a gap in the legislative framework concerning the laws of the sea which does not explicitly refer to international human rights law.

In light of the proposed amendments, Human Rights at Sea Founder, David Hammond, added that this is the best opportunity to update the international Law of the Sea regime to become wider in effect, supporting all people living, working, transiting or engaged in any kind of activity in the sea.

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