THE International Chamber of Shipping, the European Community Shipowners’ Association and the Asian Shipowners’ Association have jointly urged immediate action by the international community to stop the escalation of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz.

The joint statement called for all countries to ensure the safe passage of merchant vessels, respecting the Freedom of Navigation enshrined in Article 87(1)a and the Right of Innocent Passage defined in Article 19 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

A statement from the three organisations said the Stena Impero is a British flagged vessel, owned by a Swedish company, with a multinational crew, and appears to have been detained illegally while transiting an international strait. The situation therefore requires a diplomatic solution in order for business to return to normal as soon as possible.

ICS secretary general Guy Platten said freedom of navigation is vital for global trade and is a fundamental principle of international maritime law.

“Seafarers and ships must be allowed to operate in safety, and it is simply not acceptable for them to be used as bargaining counters in any way,” he said.

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ECSA secretary general Martin Dorsman said merchant vessels engaged in international trade should not be subject to unlawful seizures or armed attacks.

“The Strait of Hormuz is an important route for European merchant vessels and we strongly urge EU member states to work with Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in order to safeguard this vital passageway,” he said.

ASA secretary general Ang Chin Eng pointed out that the Strait of Hormuz is the only route in and out of the Persian Gulf, and a critical shipping lane for Asian countries.

“We therefore urge all countries to completely secure the safe passage by respecting the freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage as enshrined in the UNCLOS, and to push for a complete de-escalation of tensions in the region,” he said. The joint statement said the ICS, ECSA and ASA, representing the global and regional shipping industries, would continue to work with all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of merchant shipping in the region.

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