© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
The UN Human Rights Office and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, have joined the United Nations Global Compact in calling for businesses across the value chain to act and assess the human rights situation facing seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight hundred thousand seafarers are currently either stranded on vessels or prevented from returning to ships due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel and transit.
Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all business enterprises should respect human rights throughout their operations, including during the transfer of goods in their supply chains. With many seafarers stuck onboard ships well beyond the 11 months maximum mandated by international labour standards, security and environmental hazards risk increasing.
In a joint statement, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact and Anita Ramasastry, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, call upon all relevant business enterprises to:
Various shipping, non-shipping and seafood companies have called for urgent action, regarding the situation around seafarers. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, also reiterated seafarers’ essential role in the “often invisible global logistics chain”. He repeated calls to governments, alongside leaders from business, the UN, and unions, to deem them “key workers” and facilitate their transfer.