Last week more than 50 senior legal professionals from 22 countries took the opportunity to increase their understanding of the MLC and the tough challenges faced in implementing its provisions and amendments across local jurisdictions. They came together at the second Symposium on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and Case Law, jointly organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Training Centre of the ILO with the assistance of Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI).
Deirdre Fitzpatrick (pictured), Executive Director of SRI, the international pan-industry body researching maritime and seafarers’ law, is a keen supporter of the Symposium: “The MLC is sometimes seen as self-contained with its enforcement provisions aimed at flag State, port States and labour supplying States, as well as provision for seafarer complaints. But the enforcement of seafarers’ rights has a long history that pre-dates the MLC and the creation of the ILO and it is ever important that seafarers have access to courts to enforce their rights should this be necessary.
“This exchange of experiences and mutual learning between lawyers, judges, legal practitioners and academics from different countries is part of the network that is needed to facilitate seafarers’ rights before courts, tribunals or other dispute mechanisms. The work that we are doing at the Symposium will bring a better understanding of the issues preventing full implementation of the MLC and the need for harmonisation of legal decisions around the world.
“An increased familiarisation of the Convention amongst the legal fraternity globally can only strengthen the crucial role of the MLC in a changing world of work”, she said.
Rear-Admiral Jean-Marc Schindler, Chair of the Maritime Labour Convention conferences 2001-2006 and the Joint IMO/ILO ad hoc expert working group on liability and compensation regarding claims for death, personal injury and abandonment of seafarers, and a member of the SRI Advisory Board, addressed the delegates. He said: “The MLC remains a unique example of the review by a United Nations body of nearly 70 of its international instruments. It is an innovative and dynamic instrument and it is a field of progress.
“Lawyers are new actors and the Symposium is an excellent tool for lawyers and others to learn and exchange views on how they can play a role in maintaining the dynamic nature of the Convention”.
During the two-day event participants reviewed recent comparative studies at an international level on the challenges in the maritime industry, discussed how to implement the MLC 2006 effectively, analysed case law relating to seafarers’ rights, and compared trends worldwide.