The project’s principal aim is to provide victims of human rights abuses at sea with access to an effective remedy, while at the same time combating impunity for the perpetrators of such abuses.

The project is driven by the concept that an arbitration-based mechanism of redress for human rights abuses could significantly enhance human rights protection in the maritime space, by providing:

  • A neutral and visible forum in which human rights issues can be resolved;
  • An efficient procedure that is both expedient and financially accessible to victims;
  • An adjudicative process that is highly specialized and tailored to the sensitivities of human rights issues as well as to the particularities of the maritime space;
  • Binding arbitral awards that would be enforceable internationally.
  • Mechanism

The arbitration mechanism is designed to improve the situation of victims of human rights abuses at sea. The aim is to provide victims with an additional mechanism of redress, alongside those that already exist, in which they can choose to bring their human rights claims.


This mechanism would address claims arising from existing and established international law and principles for the protection of human rights. It would also not require any new substantive human rights protections, nor would any new substantive law be necessary.

At the core of this arbitration-based mechanism would be a network of stakeholders active or directly interested in maritime commerce, including flag States, port and coastal States and businesses

Human Rights at Sea added.

The ensuing arbitration proceedings would be administered by a dedicated ‘human rights at sea’ arbitration institution, which would, among others:

  • Promulgate a set of procedural rules specifically tailored for human rights disputes;
  • Maintain a roster of specially qualified human rights arbitrators;
  • Oversee the constitution of arbitral tribunals (including by resolving any challenges to the appointment of arbitrators).

This first stage marking the project’s formal launch, is the circulation of a White Paper setting out the broad parameters of the arbitration-based mechanism of redress being proposed.

The concept will be further developed in subsequent stages, including through the circulation of draft model offers of consent, draft model arbitration agreements and draft arbitration rules.

Human Rights at Sea’s CEO, David Hammond commented on the occasion:

Following seven months of development, this innovative commercially focused concept to evolve arbitration as a route to effective remedy and a means for enforcement against perpetrators of human rights abuses at sea, is now ready for disclosure to the international community

You may the white paper in the PDF below