• August 3, 2015


“Few places on the planet are as lawless as the high seas, where egregious crimes are routinely committed with impunity”

We have run several items recently on Celtic News focusing on the world of International Shipping.

Articles have focused on the IOM register but also more generally on conditions for seafarers globally and on these issues we have raised concerns with both the International Maritime Organisation and also the International Labour Organisation (see links).

In tandem with this Celtic League have copied in a New York Times reporter, Ian Urbina, who has, over the past few days, been running a series of penetrating and thought provoking articles exposing the murky maritime world of THE OUTLAW OCEAN and a link to those article’s can be found here:


The series is very wide ranging and covers everything including, maritime working conditions on both merchant ships and trawlers. It also includes disturbing evidence about the treatment of stowaways and also suggests violent crimes including murder committed at sea often go unpunished.

Here’s a snippet from his first article:

“Few places on the planet are as lawless as the high seas, where egregious crimes are routinely committed with impunity. Though the global economy is ever more dependent on a fleet of more than four million fishing and small cargo vessels and 100,000 large merchant ships that haul about 90 percent of the world’s goods, today’s maritime laws have hardly more teeth than they did centuries ago when history’s great empires first explored the oceans’ farthest reaches.

Murders regularly occur offshore — thousands of seafarers, fishermen or sea migrants die under suspicious circumstances annually, maritime officials say — but culprits are rarely held accountable. No one is required to report violent crimes committed in international waters.

Through debt or coercion, tens of thousands of workers, many of them children, are enslaved on boats every year, with only occasional interventions. On average, a large ship sinks every four days and between 2,000 and 6,000 seamen die annually, typically because of avoidable accidents linked to lax safety practices.”

These articles are extremely detailed and the series is back up by supplementary material also in the New York Times.

It is to be hoped that both International authorities and National governments will be prompted by these thought provoking articles to take action to regulate more thoroughly what Ian Urbina rightly terms ‘THE OUTLAW OCEAN’.

As an accredited UN NGO the Celtic League will certainly be taking up with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Ian’s statement that:

“No one is required to report violent crimes committed in international waters.”

The New York Times are to be applauded for shining a light on this murky world.

Links to recent Celtic League correspondence to IMO and ILO:


J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League



The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues


Yahoo! Groups

About Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Celtic League
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x