Developing MLC, 2006 Enforcement Guidelines

Oct 15, 2008

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006), sometimes called the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights”, is important international legislation protecting seafarers’ rights. For two meetings in September, SCI’s Director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights, Douglas B. Stevenson, was in Geneva to discuss the implementation of these international standards. Stevenson was the leader of a delegation sent by the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) to develop guidelines for the enforcement of the MLC, 2006.

“An essential key to the MLC, 2006’s effectiveness is that it must be enforced in a uniform and harmonized manner,” says Stevenson.  “The guidelines that were adopted in the September ILO (international Labour Organization) meetings in Geneva will provide inspectors enforcing the rules outlined in the MLC, 2006 with the tools they need to protect seafarers’ rights to decent working and living conditions.”

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) is a comprehensive, landmark agreement between governments, ship owners, and seafarers. It provides solid and uniform rules for the workers, employers and governments involved in commerce at sea, setting international requirements for the working and living conditions of the worlds 1.2 million seafarers. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office, writes of the Convention, “Under its provisions, for the first time in history, there will be a truly global foundation available for the various national laws in the maritime labour sector.”

“When it comes into force, hopefully by 2012, it will provide an essential pillar of international maritime legislation,” said Stevenson, “and it is legislation in which SCI and other member organizations of ICMA had an influence.”  Stevenson says that it was because of input of the experience from ICMA chaplains that a delegation from ICMA was invited to the meeting of experts.

SCI and ICMA participated in the development of the MLC, 2006 and strongly support its ratification, implementation and enforcement.   ICMA has non-governmental organization status at the ILO and SCI’s Stevenson is the chair of ICMA’s Standing Delegation to the ILO.  During the development of the MLC, 2006, SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights provided critical technical and policy support to the ICMA delegation.