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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Labour Organization (ILO)

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United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for
Sustainable Development
7 June 2017
United Nations Headquarters, New York
Statement by: Ms. Alette van Leur, Director, Sectoral Policies Department
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Much has been said this week about the ocean and the need to
protect it. The ILO adds to this message that the ocean is also a
workplace, where tens of millions of people every day earn their
Promoting decent work is crucial for sustainable development as
it contributes to ending working poverty, ensuring safety and
health, and achieving equality. Yet there are significant “decent
work deficits” for many people working at sea and in the ocean
At its worst, this includes such problems as child and forced
labour and abandonment of seafarers, long working hours, nonpayment
of wages and hazardous conditions of work. These
violations of labour rights are not only detrimental to the
workers concerned: they also damage the reputation of the
fishing and shipping industry and those competing legally and
The ILO makes a unique contribution towards addressing these
deficits by adopting international labour standards, drawn up by
representatives of governments, employers and workers, and
closely monitoring their implementation. Countries ratifying
ILO conventions commit themselves to applying them in law
and practice and reporting on their implementation. They
commit themselves to applying them in law and practice and
reporting on their implementation.
The ILO supervisory bodies regularly examine their application.
Complaint procedures can be initiated against countries for
violations of a ratified convention. If there are problems in the
application of standards, the ILO seeks to assist countries
through social dialogue and technical assistance.
Let me draw your attention to the two key ILO Conventions
concerning living and working conditions at sea.
First, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, provides a
comprehensive set of standards governing living and working
conditions of seafarers. It has now been ratified by 83 ILO
member States and covers around 90% of the world fleet by
gross tonnage. The ILO has witnessed impressive efforts from
the shipping industry, seafarers’ organizations and governments
to promote decent work by implementing this Convention.
Similarly, the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) aims
to set out standards governing conditions of work on fishing
vessels. This Convention has, so far, received ten ratifications
and will enter into force in November 2017.
The ILO encourages all States to ratify and implement these
Conventions, as a crucial contribution to the fulfillment of
Sustainable Goal 14.
The ocean is a workplace and seafarers and fishers, as all other
workers, have the right to decent work.
Thank you.