Swiss interest grows for Human Rights at Sea Arbitration Tribunal Project

Press Release

13 January 2021

London, UK. / Basel, Switzerland. Prof. Dr. Anna Petrig, Chair of International Law and Public Law at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and Board advisor to Human Rights at Sea, on 8 January 2020 introduced the concept of Maritime Arbitration and Human Rights during the 2021 online Swiss-based Competence Centre Arbitration and Crime webinar.

Professor Petrig provided an outlook on the special panel on maritime arbitration and human rights to be hosted during the Competence Centre Arbitration and Crime conference in Switzerland in January 2022 and on the Human Rights at Sea and Shearman & Sterling LLP arbitration project relating to a new form of maritime arbitration tribunal and process.

She highlighted the work to explore whether or not such an arbitration process could be a new route to achieving effective remedy for human rights abuses at sea and if so, how it could or should be designed.

Substantive international human rights law has seen a progression in the last decade as the subject has been explored academically, noting the emerging principle that human rights apply at sea, as they do on land, including the civil society development; and the concept of business and human rights has gained greater awareness and acceptance in the maritime supply chain.

Combining these two recent developments, it is argued that today there is solid grounding for all business entities in the maritime sector must respect human rights provisions and protections throughout their operations.

The real issue highlighted is not the lack of human rights law, but the lack of enforcement at sea, including the exercising of jurisdiction by flag States, and in particular flags of convenience otherwise known as open registries. This includes a distinct lack of transparency as to business practices, reporting of incidents and the ability for independent and public scrutiny of incidents of human rights violations.

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Professor Petrig: 


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