Photo: International Maritime Organization

UN Resolution Urges ‘Key Worker’ Designation for Seafarers

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December 2, 2020

The United Nations General Assembly has called on UN Member States to designate seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers and implement measures to allow seafarers stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic to be repatriated.

In a resolution adopted yesterday during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations recognized the need for an urgent and concrete response from stakeholders, including the private sector, to resolve the situation of seafarers stranded at sea and/or unable to join ships because of government-imposed travel restrictions.

The resolution also encourages Governments and relevant stakeholders to implement IMO-recognized protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sadly, hundreds of thousands of seafarers, who are vital to maintaining supply chains, remain stranded at sea for months beyond their contracted time,” said International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim. “This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable. I hope that this call to action will result in positive momentum to resolve the crew change crisis.”

The UN resolution calls on international organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including workers and employers organizations, to support Governments, upon their request, in the design and implementation of their responses and policies aimed at ensuring the integrity and increasing the resilience of global supply chains, decent working and living conditions and human rights of seafarers.

With vaccines in sight, Secretary-General Lim says the key work designation would ensure seafarers and maritime workers receive priority vaccination.

“I hope that the key worker designation will ensure that seafarers can be vaccinated expeditiously. This will go some way to resolving the ongoing crew change crisis,” Mr. Lim said.

The full text can be downloaded here: https://www.undocs.org/en/A/75/L.37

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