HRAS Publishes 1st Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea

seaIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license.

The first version of the inaugural ‘Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea’ was published by maritime NGO Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) on April 5, 2019.

As explained, the principal aim of the new declaration is “to raise global awareness of the abuse of human rights at sea and to mobilise a concerted international effort to put an end to it.”

It recognizes established International Human Rights Law and International Maritime Law, highlights the applicable legal assumptions, and reflects the emerging development and customary use of the increased cross-over of the two bodies of law.

The concept of human rights at sea rests on four fundamental principles:

1. Human rights apply at sea to exactly the same degree and extent that they do on land;

2. All persons at sea, without any distinction, enjoy human rights at sea;

3. There are no maritime specific rules allowing derogation from human rights standards;

4. All human rights established under treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea.

The declaration was first announced to students in Malta on April 4 at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) during the second Human Rights and the Law of the Sea workshop held in coordination with the Stockton Centre for International Law.

On April 5, it was briefed at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden during the Empowering Women in the Maritime Community conference.

According to HRAS, the publication comes after the initial drafting session which was held in Switzerland on March 20-21, 2019. The first drafting round was supported with input and observers from UN agencies, human rights lawyers, international and civil society organizations.

The second drafting session will be held in Geneva in May.

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