IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos welcomed the launch of the Seafarers’ Rights International Centre, an independent forum dedicated to advancing seafarers’ interests, describing it as an important development on World Maritime Day, the theme of which is “2010: Year of the Seafarer”.
The new Centre will be located at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)’s London offices, with initial funding coming from the ITF’s Seafarers’ Trust. An international Advisory Board, currently 10-strong, has already been established and the Centre’s stakeholders will include seafarers, lawyers and other advisers, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, welfare organizations and campaigners, students and academics, shipowners and other major actors in the shipping industry, as well as Governments.
During the launch of the Centre, which took place at IMO Headquarters in London, Mr. Mitropoulos took the opportunity to stress IMO’s long-standing commitment to seafarers and said it was fitting that the new Centre should be launched at IMO Headquarters on a World Maritime Day exclusively dedicated to them.
He said, “When 2010 was first proposed as the Year of the Seafarer, I remarked upon the particular hazards that confront the 1.5 million seafarers in the world. As well as the natural hazards of the sea and the elements, which they have to deal with as a matter of course, they also face exceptional hazards, such as pirate attacks, unwarranted detention and abandonment”.
“The launch of Seafarers’ Rights International today will undoubtedly help those seafarers that are caught up in such circumstances, through no fault of their own”, he continued, “by providing a centre dedicated to advancing seafarers’ interests through research, education and legal training concerning seafarers’ issues.”
The launch of the Centre was also attended by, Ms Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Seafarers’ Rights International, and members of the Centre’s Advisory Board.
Piracy petition presented to Secretary-General Mitropoulos
In a separate event, Mr. David Cockroft, General Secretary of the ITF, supported by shipping industry representatives, presented a petition signed by 930,406 people to Secretary-General Mitropoulos, calling for Governments to do everything possible to protect the thousands of seafarers and the hundreds of ships at risk of attack by pirates by:
• dedicating significant resources and concerted efforts to find real solutions to the growing piracy problem;
• taking immediate steps to secure the release and safe return of kidnapped seafarers to their families;
• working within the international community to secure a stable and peaceful future for Somalia and its people.
“IMO shares the deep concern of seafarers, industry and the broader community with regard to piracy and I know I can speak for the Organization’s entire membership and its partners in stating that it is our strong collective wish to see it eradicated,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
Mr. Mitropoulos said that the petition would significantly support the objectives identified by IMO with regard to the World Maritime Day theme for 2011, which will be “Piracy: orchestrating the response”.