LAW firm HFW has put its support behind the development of a new Geneva Declaration to define and defend the human rights of the global maritime population.

The global law firm previously carried out a joint review of the declaration on behalf of UK-based nongovernmental organisation Human Rights at Sea, which produced the proposed international convention in 2022.

The firm has now translated the Declaration into nine languages – Ukrainian, Russian, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, and Spanish – to assist HRAS in securing the support of states around the world for submission to the UN Human Rights Council to formally adopt the declaration.

The declaration targets human rights abuses stemming from piracy, criminal violence, breaches of maritime labour rights, seafarer abandonment, slavery, trafficking, child labour, and failures in equality and inclusion.

It applies to seafarers, fishers, workers in offshore oil and gas, and the tourism industry and extends to passengers, scientists, state officials on naval and coast guard vessels, migrants and refugees, and people involved in unlawful activities.

 HFW partner Alex Kemp said the Geneva Declaration is a major milestone in the fight to end human rights abuses at sea.

“We would encourage organisations around the world to support the Declaration in any way that they can, so that the lives of seafarers, who play such a crucial role to everyone’s day-to-day lives, are protected by law,” HE SAID.

HRAS CEO David Hammond said, “[HFW] has been with us since the beginning and has played a vital role throughout the development of the declaration. These translations are essential in enabling and encouraging the use of the Declaration around the world, to help to obtain justice for victims of human rights abuses at sea.”

The declaration is structured around 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 they do on land.
  • All persons at sea, without any distinction, are entitled to their human rights.
  • There are no maritime-specific reasons for denying human rights at sea.
  • All human rights established under both treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea.