The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed on several recommendations in an effort to address violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault in the maritime sector.

A meeting of the Joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group (JTWG) was held from 27 to 29 February in IMO to discuss potential future steps to prevent and address this serious issue.

The Joint ILO/IMO group agreed on several recommendations to be submitted to the IMO’s maritime safety committee at its next meeting in May 2024 and to the ILO governing body in due course.

The JTWG recommended the use of the terminology “violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault” in relevant instruments and guidance under both IMO and ILO. 

Additional recommendations include mandatory training for seafarers, the adoption of measures for Administrations and shipping companies, removal of perpetrators from service, and amendments to medical guides.

The JTWG recommended the launch of a joint ILO-IMO international campaign, with the support of ILO and IMO Member States, seafarers, shipowners, governmental and non-governmental organizations, to raise awareness around the issue. It encouraged Governments to launch national campaigns in collaboration with social partners and other national organizations.

The IMO and ILO Secretariats are encouraged to explore ways to collect data about violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault.

Furthermore, the JTWG recommended that the ILO Governing Body invite the members of the ILO Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (STC), which meets in April 2025, to consider submitting relevant proposals to amend the MLC, 2006.

The aim is to ensure that Member States and shipping companies define and prohibit shipboard violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault and adopt relevant policies, measures and programmes to prevent and address these issues.

Arsenio Dominguez, IMO Secretary-General, said: “Recognizing that this is not only a moral imperative but also a practical necessity for the industry’s sustainable growth, we are committed to preventing and combatting bullying and harassment in the maritime sector.

“Our shared goal is clear – to meet the expectations of seafarers, the industry, Administrations, and the public at large in making shipping free of any form of aggression.”

Source: IMO