When it comes to the rights and welfare of seafarers, action always speaks louder than words.


On 17th November 2021, I emailed the ILO library to ask permission to redistribute ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, though Marine Café Blog’s Downloads section. I explained that the blog has a worldwide readership that includes seafarers and expressed the hope that more seafarers would get to read the full text of the Convention.

My request was forwarded on the same day to the ILO’s Publications Rights people, who informed me on 22nd November, just five days later, that they had no objections to the redistribution.

I am telling this little story because it not only shows the professionalism of ILO personnel. More important, it highlights the stark contrast between the ILO and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the treatment of maritime conventions that affect seafarers.

IMO and ILO conventions are copyrighted to the two UN agencies respectively. The huge difference is that the full texts of ILO treaties can be read on the organisation’s website, and they are free to download. Redistribution, though, requires the ILO’s express permission.

Not so with the IMO. You cannot access online the full texts of the STCW and other IMO conventions. For that, you have to pay through the nose for the print and electronic editions. How utterly ironic! The IMO concocted the “Day of the Seafarer” and continues to usurp the ILO’s role as the UN entity responsible for promoting the rights and welfare of workers, including seafarers.

Now, who really cares about the men and women who toil at sea?

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