- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

GENEVA — Spurred by the heightened threat of global terrorism and heavy pressure from the United States, the International Labor Organization last week concluded and adopted a global accord to create a secure, internationally recognized biometric identity card for the world’s 1.2 million seafarers.

The international convention — negotiated in 15 months — also marks the first agreement providing specifications for an identity document to be accepted worldwide. The convention was adopted by a 392-0 vote, with 20 abstentions, under the ILO’s tripartite voting — by governments, employer associations and labor unions.

Among the governments, 122 voted in favor, none voted against, and seven, including Australia and Mexico, abstained.

The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The accord requires each commercial seaman in international trade to carry a biometric ID card based on a fingerprint template encoded in bar code, which will be derived from a uniform international standard, and a digital or original authorized photo. It also provides for secure databases, and random international verification.

The pact can come into force six months after the ILO receives two ratifications. It will replace this agency’s 1958 Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, which has been ratified by 61 states, but not by the United States.

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