Human Rights at Sea has published the first voluntary NGO minimum standard guidance, working towards increased levels of joint coordination and cooperation for the on-going humanitarian relief effort in the Mediterranean region and in close co-ordination with established Rescue Coordination Centres, other State and non-State actors.

The first edition of the document titled 'Voluntary Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue Operations undertaken by civil society Non-Governmental Organisations in the Mediterranean Sea' is intended to act as the basis for rapid iterative development with as many stakeholders as possible, including European Institutions, Agencies, shipping and fishing associations and military forces.

Drafted in close co-ordination with numerous NGO stakeholders and project led by Melanie Glodkiewicz, it is based on established humanitarian principles, existing Search and Rescue Convention, applicable international law and SAR guidance from the IMRF.

The new publication puts down a marker and provides a starting point for a more comprehensive approach between NGOs in rescuing migrants and refugees at sea. It also seeks to provide increased transparency for understanding the actions of civil society NGOs by other actors.

The publication encourages the sharing and development of joint Standard Operating Procedures. Further, it develops the concept of agreed pre-operation on-scene coordination, to include a voluntary agreement on baseline operational principles between on-scene responders prior to enacting of formal SAR operational co-ordination under well-established SAR and maritime Conventions.

David Hammond, CEO Human Rights at Sea, commented that "With the unprecedented mass movement of people towards Europe, co-ordination at every level is critical to acting effectively and also protecting fundamental rights using a comprehensive approach to tackle this generational issue. This new voluntary guidance is aimed at getting people around the table, stopping unhelpful distractions by attacks towards civil society NGOs and promoting effective co-operation between all State and non-State actors."

See the full guidance here: or e-mail Mélanie Głodkiewicz at [email protected]