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UN Launches Tool to Protect Seafarer Human Rights Globally

A group of United Nations organizations has teamed up with international labor leaders and other stakeholders of the maritime community to launch a new tool for global brands to ensure they protect the human rights of seafarers in their supply chain.

The new Human Rights Due Diligence Tool for cargo owners and charterers is designed to enhance existing initiatives like the Neptune Declaration, which links more than 800 international companies committed to specific cargo shipments and direct businesses to carriers that are making substantial efforts to protect the rights of their seafarers.

The human rights tool covers a broad spectrum of issues. It was issued to maritime businesses as part of a collaboration between the UN Global Impact, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Human Rights Office, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The tool also has the backing of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, the Global Forum, the World Economic Forum, the Consumer Goods Forum, and the Ethical Trading Initiative. Many global brands, such as Coca-Cola and Nestle, are expected to use this tool and companies that have already adopted the Neptune Declaration, like Unilever.

Commenting on the new tool, Managing Director of the Consumer Goods Forum, Wai-Chan Chan, said,

“The Consumer Goods Forum welcomes this new tool to urgently support the safety, health, and wellbeing of those working at sea. As our Board of Directors wrote to the UN Secretary-General last fall, not only has the COVID-19 crisis disrupted the maritime industry’s contribution to global supply chains, but it has also inadvertently created a modern form of forced labor. This is an unacceptable situation, and we support the call for all actors across sectors to work collaboratively and quickly to resolve it.”

The UN Global Compact has the tool easily accessible online and will distribute it to over 800 businesses connected to the organization. It is also expected that other groups and forums like the Consumer Goods Forum will equally distribute it to its members.

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