The rights of Myanmar’s sizeable merchant seaman population will be better protected after the country last week ratified the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, the International Labour Organisation said.

Myanmar became the 75th ILO member to ratify the convention, in a document signed by Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and formally submitted at the UN organisation’s Geneva headquarters on May 25.

The convention, that will take effect in Myanmar on May 26, 2017, will help to ensure protection for the rights of seafarers working on ships flying its flag and greater certainty on standards imposed on ships calling at its ports, the ILO said in a statement.

It would also contribute to creating in Southeast Asia an homogeneous operating environment for the maritime shipping industry, it said.

Describing the 75th ratification of MLC, 2006, as a “significant milestone”, the ILO said both the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation had expressed satisfaction at Myanmar’s move.

The ILO said Myanmar has so far ratified three of its eight “fundamental” conventions. It ratified the conventions on Forced Labour, Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise, and Worst Forms of Child Labour, in 2013.

MLC, 2006, the fourth pillar of an international regulatory regime for quality shipping, began taking effect in 2013 when it was ratified by 30 ILO members and now covers more than 90 percent of world gross tonnage and has near universal implementation, the statement said.

It quoted ILO director-general Mr Guy Ryder as welcoming Myanmar, “an important labour supplying country for the maritime industry”, as being among the states that have ratified MLC, 2006.

“This ratification certainly has a particular historical importance for the ILO who has accompanied Myanmar in its democratisation process,” Ryder said.