Douglas B. Stevenson, the Director of the Center for Seafarers
' Rights of the Seamen's Church Institute
, urged delegates attending the week-long meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea to place on its agenda review of its protections for persons employed in the workplace of the sea and how member States implement them.
He was the only non-government speaker on the agenda.
"We need the political will to enforce seafarers' rights guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," said Mr. Stevenson. "This meeting should take on matters of substance along with its administrative agenda," Stevenson told the delegates. "I am alarmed by the unprecedented assaults on the Law of the Sea Convention's protections for merchant mariners that have occurred over the past year. Never, in the 21 years since the adoption of the Law of the Sea Convention, have so many challenges existed to the rule of law affecting merchant mariners
, as have occurred in the past year."
Stevenson cited six reasons for CSR's growing concern: Pirate attacks on merchant shipping continue to increase in their numbers and in their violence; Coastal states
order ships to sail from safe waters to dangerous waters; Coastal States are creating disincentives for rescuing persons in distress at sea; Mariners are increasingly subjected to criminal prosecutions in pollution cases, even when there is no criminal culpability; Abandoned ships remain a problem worldwide; and Ship's crews face additional security responsibilities and duties as a result of post 9/11 maritime security measures.