Jakarta (ANTARA) - The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by Indonesia on international cooperation to protect seafarers during the pandemic.

"This resolution is clear evidence of Indonesia's achievement as the largest maritime and archipelagic country in encouraging cooperation to protect seafarers, especially from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi noted in a statement here on Wednesday.

The 193-member UNGA, in the resolution, urged all countries to designate seafarers and other marine personnel, as key workers, to immediately implement measures allowing safe ship crew changes, allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated, and to ensure access to medical care for all seafarers and other marine personnel.

The resolution, passed on Tuesday (Dec 1) in New York, the United States, is sponsored by 71 UN member states and the first UNGA resolution related to seafarers and the management of the flow of goods globally.

The support from 71 UN countries is testament to Indonesia's success in striving for addressing strategic issues and in acting as a "bridge" among various state interests from various regions, the minister pointed out.

This is a crucial breakthrough based on the fact that the issue of seafarers is a common concern of all parties, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indonesian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani stated that the support of various countries for the Indonesian initiative is owing to the active role of Indonesia's multilateral diplomacy in the maritime sector and the management of global goods flows, including in encouraging cooperation in the midst of the COVID-19 situation.

The resolution, titled “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support global supply chains,” was presented at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.

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Currently, Indonesia ranks third, with the largest seafaring manpower in the world after China and the Philippines.

Indonesia's initiative at the United Nations aligns with efforts to encourage increased international trade and smooth sea transportation.

Some 90 percent of the global trade is carried out by sea, and curbs imposed during the coronavirus pandemic in some jurisdictions are affecting supply chains.

Based on data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), some two million seafarers in the world work on over 980 thousand commercial vessels and transport more than 11 billion tons of global trade products.

"Yet today, hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded aboard their ships,” European Union diplomat Peggy Vissers told the General Assembly, Reuters reported.

“Owing to travel restrictions and border closures, they are unable to leave their ships and return home after long months of uninterrupted work. They are both physically and mentally exhausted,” she noted.

Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), on its official website on Dec 1, welcomed the resolution.

This is a significant step in recognizing the crucial role that two million sailors play in transporting food, medicines, energy supplies, and other essential raw materials across the globe amid the height of a global pandemic, Secretary General of the ICS Guy Platten stated.

“We welcome the news that the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution urging the classification of all seafarers as key workers and commend the Indonesian government for spearheading this resolution," he remarked. The inability to rotate crew from their ships and provide safe, frictionless transport through international borders risks the passage of trade that all our economies rely on," he emphasized.

"I am grateful to those countries that have already taken steps to designate seafarers as key workers and to all UN agencies and industry partners, who have been working tirelessly to find ways to resolve the difficult situation. This is a human rights issue. Seafarers' lives are being made impossible through the crew change difficulties, and this can only have a detrimental effect on ship safety and on the supply chain, the longer the situation continues," International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim stated while welcoming the adoption of the resolution. (INE)

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Translator: Fardah Assegaf
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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