Blue trade and forced labour: breaking the resounding silence of international economic law

Leila Delphine Choukroune, James J. Nedumpara

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On 5 December 2017, the United Nations declared a 'Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development' to be observed from 2021 to 2030. Beyond the rhetoric of sustainability, the absence of a rights-based approach that places human beings at the core of ocean policy and governance is striking. The ocean indeed remains the scene of major human rights violations. From seafarers to ship breaking sites or fisheries, the ocean is not only the place where 90% of trade in goods happens, but also the territory where grave human rights violations, often related to the labour recruited for ocean trade and investments, occur. In this context and based on a series of case studies involving seafarers, ship breaking and fisheries, in various countries, this article interrogates the silence of international economic law instruments and dispute settlement mechanisms and suggests pathways for reform in better integrating the International Labour Organization approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-121
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of World Investment and Trade
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • blue economy
  • blue trade
  • fisheries
  • forced labour
  • foreign direct investment
  • international economic law
  • labour
  • seafarers
  • ship breaking
  • World Trade Organization


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