Under the name 'Delivering on seafarers’ rights', the joint project aims to develop a human rights code of conduct for charterers, and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges, which create human rights risks for seafarers.

Co-led by SSI and IHRB, the project brings together SSI members, such as the China Navigation Company; Forum for the Future; Louis Dreyfus Company; Oldendorff Carriers; RightShip; South32; and Standard Chartered Bank.

The issue of seafarers' rights came into the spotlight amid an unprecedented humanitarian crisis due to COVID-19 restrictions, which left an estimated 200,000 seafarers trapped onboard ships, ICS data shows.

Meanwhile, charterers are increasingly under scrutiny regarding the sustainability of their supply chains, not only in terms of their commodities but also the vessels that transport their cargo. However, there is currently a lack of guidance on how labour and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated.

Therefore, the project seeks to address this increased public awareness of the challenges seafarers worldwide face, as well as to plug the gap of lack of guidance in chartering-related decision-making and due diligence processes.

Respect of the labour and human rights of seafarers worldwide is a key milestone on the road to sustainable shipping. We strongly believe in the power of transparency to drive positive change, and through this work we seek to catalyse collective action and leadership by charterers to advocate for more robust human rights protection within the industry,

...Andrew Stephens, Executive Director at SSI said.

Specifically, this project will see charterers play an active role in raising the industry’s bar through the development of an industry code of conduct for actors joined together across the shipping value chain. Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, this work will bring charterers, shipowners, and operators together for collective action, increasing transparency and driving positive change.

The work will further explore ways in which seafarers’ rights can be addressed by demanding transparency on labour and human rights risks, for example – through contractual terms and chartering provisions.

An industry-wide code of conduct affirming the human rights responsibilities of shipowners and operators will help to level the playing field and enable cargo owners and investors to make more informed choices around whom they want to do business with,

...said Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive at IHRB.