GENEVA (ILO News) – On 26 February, the Representative of the Russian Federation, Mr. Dmitry Gonchar, handed over to the Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department, Ms. Doumbia-Henry Russia’s instrument of ratification of the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (No. 185). This brings the number of ratifications of the Convention up to 17, with a declaration of provisional application by one further ILO member State.
The revised Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention was born in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001. “We are convinced that with this Seafarers' Identity Document, the ILO will contribute both to safer shipping through positive identification of bona-fide seafarers, and to making life easier for the seafarers concerned” said Ms. Doumbia-Henry.
“Russia has undertaken extensive work for the implementation of the Convention in preparing for this ratification and we hope that Russian seafarers will be able to move more easily around the world with this international document” said Mr. Gonchar.
The Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention of 2003 (No. 185) revises the earlier Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, 1958 (No. 108). The new Convention provides for essentially the same facilities as the 1958 Convention, namely “shore leave” enabling seafarers to go ashore in foreign ports after perhaps weeks or even months on board, and facilities for joining their ship or for transit across a country for professional reasons. The much needed changes of 2003 relate to the identification of the seafarers. They have radically enhanced the security features as well as the uniformity of the Seafarers’ Identity Document (SID) that countries are required to issue to their seafarers and lay down minimum requirements with respect to the countries’ processes and procedures for the issuance of SIDs.
In addition to the normal physical features for a modern machine-readable identity document, the new SID carries a fingerprint-based biometric template, which was adopted with the agreement of the world’s shipowner and seafarer organizations and must conform to an international standard enabling the biometric templates on a SID issued by one country to be correctly read by devices used in other countries. In addition, the border authorities around the world will be able to check the authenticity of a SID produced by a seafarer, as the new Convention enables them to verify information in the SID either by reference to the national electronic database in which each issued SID must be stored or through the national focal point of the country of issuance, who must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The country issuing SIDs must in addition arrange for an independent evaluation of the administration of its issuance system to be carried out at least once every five years. The evaluation report is reviewed in the framework of the ILO with a view to the maintenance of a list of the countries that fully meet the minimum requirements laid down by the Convention.
With its extended coastlines, large fleet and great number of seafarers serving both on its own and on foreign flagged ships, the Russian Federation will make a significant contribution to the necessary freedom of movement of seafarers. Through ratification of the Convention, Russia has joined an international security regime facilitating the admission of foreign seafarers into its territory for shore leave and other professional purposes, as well as the admission of its own seafarers into the territory of other ratifying countries for those purposes.