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A torrent of words continues to swirl around seafarers’ rights. It’s a giant whirlwind that is constantly whipped up by the maritime unions and various NGOs. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has joined in with its own brand of rhetoric and sloganeering. Never mind if the issue of workers’ rights properly belongs to another UN agency, the International Labour Organization. Amid all the noise, one word hardly gets mentioned. Yet, in this single word can be found the path to a better treatment of seafarers.

Empathy is just another word, however. For it to work its wonders, it has to be cultivated in the minds and hearts of those who deal with seafarers. Unless this happens, no amount of legislation and speechifying will significantly reduce the mistreatment and suffering of seafarers. All  will be, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, just sound and fury.

~ Barista Uno

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