Last year’s Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit had ‘Taking the lead’ as a tagline. According to GMF, the global maritime industry has been able to address some of its most pressing issues and act as a leader. While many of the issues will remain, the efforts that have been taken to tackle corruption and the impacts on the environment have been considered successful examples of collective action to address global issues.
Currently, there are many human rights risks during the lifecycle of a ship which the industry should focus on. The list is long, Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Emil Lindblad Kernell, Therese Jebsen, Frances House Danish Institute for Human Rights, Rafto Foundation, Institute for Human Rights and Business note:
- Child labour in the mines that produce the metals needed for shipbuilding;
- Modern slavery in shipyards;
- Poor mental health of seafarers;
- Severe health and safety concerns in ship recycling.
To address them, some organisations have already began works. One such example is the Norwegian ‘Mind the Gap Tour’. In 2018, the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) convened an exploratory human rights roundtable in Norway with key stakeholders from the Norwegian maritime industry. They agreed that there was a need for a better understanding of the importance and relevance of human rights within the broader sustainability/SDG agenda by the maritime industry.
Another example is the human rights guidance published by Danish Shipping in 2019, which both provides guidance for how shipping companies should manage human rights as well as what the primary human rights risk areas are for Danish Shipping members.
For next year’s summit we believe that it is the perfect time to put human rights on the agenda, in order to discuss solutions to global human rights challenges facing the industry. Discussing a way forward at the 2020 summit, based on the existing and complementary initiatives and resources, will allow the global maritime industry to have a common understanding of how industry actors could best manage their human rights risks
the authors suggest.
For now, it is of paramount importance to ensure that the bar is raised regarding human rights and that the global maritime industry takes its responsibility to respect human rights. One way to raise the bar is to follow the blueprint of the Poseidon Principles.
If lenders begin to ask tough questions around the maritime industry’s human rights impacts, it could drive the necessary change that some actors within the global maritime industry have already begun
Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) performance is used to leverage finance, and advance change on all of the issues, but the ‘S’ in ESG has not received enough attention. Developing human rights relevant criteria for the maritime industry to track its performance in relation to social issues (the ‘S’), along with human rights-related governance issues (the ‘G’) would have significant impacts on industry actions and resource allocation.
Concluding, the 2019 Global Maritime Forum annual summit found that collaboration and bold leadership are necessary to meet new societal demands. Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Emil Lindblad Kernell, Therese Jebsen, Frances House, believe that the industry is well placed to again take the lead and work towards this goal.