ILO Revises Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention

ILO Revises Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention

International Labour Organization (ILO) held a tripartite meeting of employers, seafarers’ unions and governments in Geneva last week, to consider possible adjustments to the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (ILO 185), the International Chamber of Shipping, shipowners’ representative at the meeting, said in a release.

ILO 185 requires ratifying nations to issue resident seafarers with Seafarers’ Identity Documents (SIDs), and to facilitate the entry of foreign seafarers holding SIDs into their territory for the purposes of shore leave, transfer and transit. However, since its adoption in 2003, the Convention has failed to achieve widespread implementation, in large part because the technical standards adopted have been superseded by the technologies and infrastructure now used for the issuance and verification of ePassports.

Most notable among the recommendations agreed by the tripartite meeting was a proposal that the technical specifications for Seafarers’ Identity Documents, within the annexes to ILO 185, should be updated in order to bring them into line with those technologies currently used for ePassports. In practice, this would mean the inclusion within SIDs of a facial image biometric and a digital signature, both stored on a contactless chip, making SIDs inter-operable with the infrastructure used by most countries to issue ePassports and to verify them at their borders.

The recommendations will be considered by a future meeting of the ILO Governing Body which will consider whether the proposed measures should be taken forward.

”The effective implementation of ILO 185 is of great importance to the welfare of seafarers and the efficiency of the global shipping industry, as well as addressing the legitimate security concerns of governments,” Joe Cox, President of the Chamber of Shipping of America, said. ‘‘It will therefore be incumbent upon the ILO Governing Body to give careful consideration to the recommendations that have been put forward by this ILO tripartite meeting.”

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