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Convention 185

In accordance with the G8 decision (G8 summit in Kananaskis 06.26.2002) concerning a transportation safety partnership, the International Labor Organization (ILO) revised the Convention of 1958 by adopting the Convention 185 (hereinafter referred to as Convention) in June 2003 that requires a Seafarer Identity Documents (SID) to contain biometrical information of the seafarer.

Convention 185 was praised as an important move towards the enforcement of safety measures off-shore and in seaports. At the same time, the new document provides a guaranty for the rights and freedoms of mariners, as well as recognizes the issues concerning duty reassignment, for example, when they board the vessel, take shore leave or return home.

One of the tragic after-effects of terrorism is that security enforcement may adversely reverberate on the situation of the mariners in the world, decline working conditions or even cause loss of jobs. This may affect the maritime industry in the whole, said Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labor Organization Program concerning the new convention promotion. Convention 185 provides establishment of the international identification system on the basis of the freewill agreement between the countries, ship owners and mariners.

Within Convention 185 the Administrative Board of the ILO approved the biometrical identification system that intends to guarantee more rigid control in accordance with the new maritime industry security requirements. The new Seafarers Identity Documents allow the use of biometrical data when two fingerprints are transformed into the 2-D bar code and entered into the identity document. Government, employer and Administrative Board employee representatives approved the adoption of the new convention in response to the new security requirements, which are already practiced among other mariners around the world.

All countries that ratified the Convention 185 may issue the new Seafarers Identity Documents in accordance with the standard ILO SID-0002 Finger Minutiae-Based Biometric Profile for Seafarers Identity Documents.

The Convention of 1958 was ratified by 61 countries, who are ILO members, accounting for 60.7 % of the world fleet. Under certain conditions these countries may begin issuing the new identity documents prior to ratifying the new convention.

International Labour Organization Web site: Seafarers Identity Documents Convention, 2003 (C185)

International Labour Organization Web site: Maritime Labour Standards page