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UN's Human Rights Agency moves to control the oceans under the banner of social justice

The United Nations is making a power grab to control life in detail on the high seas under the banner of human rights, social justice and protecting the planet from "destruction", according to Forbes magazine.

The article is by Nishan Degnarai, former chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council, who describes himself as a "development economist", and currently works for "leading Silicon Valley technology companies".

Mr Degnarai says the sharp end of the initiative will come through the UN’s Human Rights Agency (UNOHCR), which has launched an investigation into "human rights abuses associated with the global shipping industry and exposure to toxic chemicals without prior consent".

The evil genie of the piece is Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil or VLSFO, which supposedly contains "undefined toxic chemicals", and is now in 70 per cent of all ships, and likely to be the focus of the inquiry. Not mentioned is that this is the very fuel forced upon shipping by environmentalists demanding an end to heavy bunker fuel pollution.

On one hand it appears the UN attack is on its own marine agency, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as major shipping companies. One is blamed for being the source of most of the violations and the other for allowing them, suggesting collusion between the two.

But closer scrutiny shows these two would be the chief beneficiaries if the UNOHCR wins the day. That's because, the result would be a vast increase in sheer numbers of regulations, resulting in rocketing compliance costs that would drive smaller companies out of business, increasing the market share for the surviving mega corporations. As for the IMO, it would inherit the enforcement role and the wish list of the UNOHCR would appear as IMO standing orders for coast guards around the world.

How shipping lobbies like Intertanko, Intercargo, BIMCO, the International Shipping Council and the International Chamber of Shipping respond is the next question. Will they stand frozen like a deer in the headlights as they usually do? Or will they prepare defences for the freedom of the seas, and compel the UN "sea grabbers" provide proof of their allegations of harm done by the use of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil - or anything else they have up their sleeves. And will the lobbies provide the wherewithal to make this defence known to the public in the face of hostile media, academic, bureaucratic complex that will oppose a defence of freedom of the seas as a challenge to state power.

Shipping lobbies should no longer allow unelected bureaucrats, who seem mostly supported by NGOs and QUANGOs, proceed to regulation unchallenged. No longer should rules be based on unexamined assumptions. The shipping community must insist that scientific findings in support of regulations be more widely peer reviewed by eco-friendly scientists, who rubber stamp the dreams and schemes of officialdom.

Terms Mr Degnarai uses, like "undefined toxic chemicals" must be defined, and definitions sought and published - and published widely.

Nor should following emotive charges be meekly accepted: "Oil spills have a disproportionate impact on women," Mr Degnarai says. "The chemicals have a much more significant on female reproductive organs and health, affecting the health of unborn children. Many women faced greater social and financial pressures following the oil spill as they support husbands in the fishing business or make tourist products to be sold on informal beach stands."

What is expected is that this bureaucratic offensive will be encouraged by the media and university "studies" departments, and the face of such criticism, receive passive acceptance by an industry that simply wants to be left alone. And with the specter of feminism falling under the "don't-go-there" rule, men in male-dominated industries are disinclined to deal with female complaints with anything less than cringing apology.

But today such forays must be met with reciprocity. If these toxins "have a much more significant [impact] on female reproductive organs and health", proof of the allegation must be shown and not merely assumed to be true. Perhaps not by the lofty "beyond a reasonable doubt" criminal standard, but on the basis of the "balance of probabilities" used in civil law. Then if such allegations can be shown to be true, to what degree are they true? Is what is charged to be likened to the looting of a corporate treasury or to the misappropriation of an office ballpoint pen to sign a personal cheque unrelated to office business?

At what point does true culpability lie between these two extremes? And if extreme, how many people does the negative impact of the practice affect. The few or the many? And how many people does the proposed mitigation affect. Few or many? And cui bono? Who benefits from the imposition of restrictive regulations? Who gets paid for what in the formulation of new rules, and who and how many and what expense will be employed to enforce new regulations. And in the end, do the benefits outweigh the costs.

Bureaucratic claims must be viewed with a forensic eye. Environmentalists - eg, Al Gore's film, "Inconvenient Truth" - are not known for credibility - as they are long on dire predictions and short on actual damage claims.

Leading the charge is UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who maintains the hysterical tone of Greta Thunberg's of the UN's children's crusade: “Our planet is being recklessly destroyed, and we urgently need stronger global partnerships to take action to save it. We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people, particularly those in vulnerable situations – including the generations of tomorrow.

“We encourage every state to develop and enforce national legal frameworks which uphold the clear linkages between a healthy environment and the ability to enjoy all other human rights, including the rights to health, water, food – and even the right to life. We also strongly encourage greater recognition that the actions and advocacy of environmental human rights defenders are deeply beneficial to all societies. They must be better protected against the threat of violence and intimidation."

Mr Degnarai said that reports suggest that more than four environmental defenders were killed across the world every week in 2019. This rate has doubled in the last 15 years. The latest death toll highlights the ongoing dangers facing those who are defending their environmental and human rights.

What has escaped the attention of the international shipping community is the open warfare being conducted on capitalism. Private trucking in favour or state-owned railways has long been subject to state sponsored, via largely state assisted NGOs and QUANGOs, which encourage the state to move in directions it is already predisposed to go.

One can recall that we live in an age where what was considered normal is verging on being deemed abnormal in official circles. Who would have thought that a man declaring himself to be a woman would be taken seriously? Who would have thought that to not take him seriously would be an offence in law, under the rubric of "hate speech"? Or that an accusation of making a displeasing non-libelous comment online could bring a policeman to your door?

World shipping - tankers, bulkers and boxers - face such an existential threat and would be well-advised to put on war paint to face the hostile media, academic, bureaucratic fleet fast approaching on their port quarter with hostile intent.

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Should the world shipping community unite as one - dry bulk, liquid bulk, containers and car carriers resist what looks like a takeover of the high seas by the United Nations? Or go along to get along once more?

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