Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) International Maritime Initiative

Briefing Note


The Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) initiative has been independently developed for the benefit of the international community, including the maritime industry, for matters and issues concerning human rights in the maritime environment. It is a work-in-progress having been launched on the 3 April 2014 in London.

It will be complimentary to existing national and international human rights work relating to the maritime environment, including fully supporting established seafarers organisations and their initiatives. The work aims to mirror the General Principles of the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights, otherwise known as the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework. Nothing in the HRAS initiative should be read as creating new international law obligations, or as limiting or undermining any legal obligations a State may have undertaken, or be subject to under international law with regard to human rights.

The HRAS initiative will be accessible, clear and transparent for the provision of applicable information and documentation for the referral and use by, flag States, ship owners, shipping associations, charterers, insurers, ship managers and agents, Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs), Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) and interested third parties, including, but not limited to, government organisations, international business, civil society NGOs, academic institutions and individuals.

The HRAS initiative will be an independent point of reference for matters concerning business and human rights within the maritime environment. It will concurrently develop related human rights projects through international Collaborative Partnerships; those being entities and individuals who are recognised experts in their respective fields and who can also provide a balanced lobbying function where applicable.
The HRAS concept will be further disseminated through international Supporting Entities who have voluntarily applied to join the initiative and support the underlying proposition that, Human rights apply at sea, as equally as they do on land.

The HRAS initiative has been conceived and developed by David Hammond, Barrister, 9 Bedford Row International Maritime Practice, of the Chambers of Anthony Berry QC, London. This has been undertaken in conjunction with leading international maritime and human rights` experts, maritime associations, civil society organisations, lawyers, academics and associated maritime commercial entities.
Oversight and peer review is provided by internationally recognised and named maritime and human rights organisations and individuals in order to ensure accuracy of content, context and applicability in the maritime environment.


The HRAS initiative aim is to raise the profile, awareness, implementation and accountability for human rights protections throughout the maritime industry, especially where they are currently absent and being abused.


  • Increased global awareness of the explicit requirement for protection of, respect for and provision of remedies in relation to human rights at sea.
  • Continued international development of effective, enforceable and accountable remedies for human rights abuses at sea.
  • Independent and effective state, business and individual lobbying in support of the concept of human rights at sea.
  • Global awareness of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the maritime environment and throughout the maritime industry based upon the HRAS initiative.

Year 1 Scope 

  • The initial scope of the initiative has been bounded by five concurrent activities for Year 1 (April2014 April 2015).
  • First, is the global promotion of the HRAS initiative through Supporting Entities, Collaborative Partners, conferences, academic papers and the HRAS web platform;
  • Second, is the development of and working with existing international Collaborative Partner Projects, focusing on issues concerning human rights abuses at sea;
  • Third, is the development of the maritime interpretation of the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
  • Fourth, is the development of voluntarily applied Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) documentation;
  • Fifth, is the pursuance of international funding sources.