Launch of Code of Conduct and self-assessment tool to protect seafarers’ rights and welfare

A Code of Conduct and self-assessment tool developed to protect the human rights and welfare of the world’s nearly two million seafarers have been launched by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), in collaboration with the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights and RightShip.

The initiative aims to support a safe, healthy and secure onboard work environment, and goes beyond the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to focus on the full spectrum of seafarers’ rights and wellbeing, from fair terms of employment and minimum crewing levels to the management of grievance mechanisms.

Key SSI members played an active role in its development, with expert input from Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus Company, Oldendorff Carriers, South32, Standard Chartered Bank, Swire Shipping and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Carl Schou, CEO and President at Wilhelmsen Ship Management, commented: “The question is no longer whether seafarers deserve better, but how we are addressing this and taking action. This Code of Conduct and self-assessment tool is a good check and balance for responsible owners and operators to improve the welfare of our seafarers. The responsibility to ensure a thriving seafaring community is in our hands.”

Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, the Code of Conduct and self-assessment were created over eight months of consultation and collaboration with shipowners, operators, charterers, cargo owners, seafarers’ associations, civil society and others.

To enable immediate action across the industry, RightShip has launched an online self-assessment tool developed in collaboration with SSI and IHRB. This freely available questionnaire provides practical guidance on utilising the Code of Conduct, helping shipowners and operators understand their responsibilities while assessing current operations and ways of working, and consequently showing areas for improvement.

The Code of Conduct and associated documents are available on the SSI website.