The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), along with SSI members, have launched a new project focusing on seafarers’ labour and human rights.

The joint project, called Delivering on Seafarers’ Rights, will develop a human rights code of conduct for charterers and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges which create human rights risks for seafarers.

Co-led by SSI and IHRB, the project brings together SSI members including China Navigation, Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus, Oldendorff Carriers, RightShip, South32 and Standard Chartered Bank.

SSI has seen a growing demand from consumers, investors, business partners, governments, and civil society for transparent and sustainable supply chains that address human rights along with environmental concerns, while charterers are also increasingly under scrutiny with regard to the sustainability of their supply chains including the vessels that transport their cargo.

“However, there is currently a lack of guidance on how labour and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated.

Plugging this gap is key to strengthening both chartering-related decision-making and due diligence processes,” SSI stated, adding that the project will see charterers play an active role in raising the industry’s bar through the development of an industry code of conduct.

“Respect of the labour and human rights of seafarers worldwide is a key milestone on the road to sustainable shipping. We strongly believe in the power of transparency to drive positive change, and through this work, we seek to catalyse collective action and leadership by charterers to advocate for more robust human rights protection within the industry,” said Andrew Stephens, executive director at SSI.

“COVID restrictions have stranded over 300,000 seafarers at sea worldwide, thrusting the human rights risks of shipping into the spotlight as never before.

IHRB welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with SSI and its members in raising the bar across the industry whereby respect for international human rights standards becomes part of everyday business, Frances House, deputy chief executive at IHRB, said.