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Tuesday, November 13, 2018 

A Regional Meeting of Asia’s leading seafaring nations has highlighted the plight many seafarers face in the event of a maritime accident and has pledged to lead the drive towards proper and effective implementation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) agreed Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers.

The Meeting, held in Manila, was organised by Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI), an international pan-industry body researching maritime and seafarers’ law, and DOLE, the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment. Issuing the first ever Manila Statement on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers, senior government representatives from more than 10 countries in the region said the time was right for action to be taken to protect their seafarers.

The Manila meeting aimed at raising awareness of the Guidelines amongst stakeholders and role players, and at exploring how the region could develop resources, knowledge and expertise in relation to the Guidelines. It addressed increasing cooperation amongst States at regional and international level.

It received international support from the Secretary-General of the IMO, the Director of Standards at the ILO, as well as Ambassadors and Embassy staff from more than 30 countries from outside the region. A keynote address was delivered to the Regional Meeting on behalf of the President of The Philippines.

Asia is the largest supplier of seafarers to the international fleet and seafarers are recognised as essential to the conduct of international trade and as a special category of worker. Given the global nature of the shipping industry and the different jurisdictions that seafarers may be brought into contact with, they need special protection, especially in relation to contacts with public authorities in the event of a maritime accident.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI, said announcement of the Manila Statement on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers is a crucial step in the fight to raise awareness. “We were delighted to host this first Regional Meeting in Manila in cooperation with Silvestre H. Bello III, Secretary of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment. It is especially significant to see Asia taking the lead in respect of this vital issue for seafarers.”

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), welcomed the Manila Statement saying this powerful statement charts the way forward for our work on the fair treatment of seafarers. “You have the ITF’s commitment working with SRI for an ongoing programme to support the fair treatment of seafarers.”

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