HFW: The Geneva Declaration is an important milestone for seafarers’ human rights

HFW: The Geneva Declaration is an important milestone for seafarers' human rights
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Global, industry-focused law firm HFW continues to support the development of a new Geneva Declaration that aims to define and defend the human rights of global marine people and those who traverse the world’s oceans and seas.

HFW conducted a joint review of the declaration on behalf of the UK-based NGO Human Rights at Sea (HRAS), which drafted the proposed international convention in 2022 after three years of research and drafting by a team of experts in public, international and humanitarian affairs and refugee law.

The company has now translated the declaration into nine different languages ​​- Ukrainian, Russian, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish – in support of HRAS’ efforts to enlist support from states around the world for the submission to secure the United Nations Human Rights Council to formally adopt the declaration.

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, HRAS is discreetly supporting conflict and post-conflict activities to seek justice for victims of human rights abuses, particularly coastal communities in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov.”

David Hammond, CEO of HRAS said: “We are incredibly grateful to HFW for their dedicated and ongoing support. The law firm and has been with us from the beginning and has played a crucial role throughout the development of the statement. These translations are essential to enable and encourage the use of the Declaration around the world to help seek justice for victims of human rights abuses at sea.”

The declaration targets human rights abuses stemming from piracy, criminal violence, violations of labor rights at sea, abandonment of seafarers, slavery, human trafficking, child labor and failures to address equality and inclusion.

It applies to seafarers, fishermen, workers in the offshore oil and gas industry and the tourism industry, and extends to passengers, scientists, civil servants on Navy and Coast Guard ships, migrants and refugees, and those involved in illegal activities.

The declaration is based on the understanding that the protection of human rights at sea rests on four fundamental principles:

  • Human rights at sea are universal. They apply at sea as well as on land.
  • All people at sea, without distinction, are entitled to their human rights.
  • There are no maritime specific reasons for denying human rights at sea.
  • All human rights, enshrined in both treaty and customary international law, must be respected at sea.
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