IMO COUNCIL, 108th SESSION 11 – 14 June 2012

The IMO Council held its 108th Session from Monday 11 through Thursday 14 June, under the Chairmanship of Mr J. Lantz (UNITED STATES). The Group of Council Members, as instructed by the Council, met from 11 – 13 June 2012, under the chairmanship of Mr Brad Groves (AUSTRALIA), to review and advise the Council on new applications for consultative status submitted by 7 organisations. Simultaneously, the Working Group on the Periodic Review of Administrative Requirements in Mandatory IMO Instruments met under the Chairmanship of Mr Ranjeet Singh (SINGAPORE).

Following is a very short summary of salient points that may be of interest to Intermanager members:
• STRATEGY, PLANNING AND REFORM. The Secretary-General informed Council that restructuring of the sub-committees had been included in the scope of his review and reform of the Organisation. The Council decided that, given the budgetary allocations for the current biennium, sub-committee meeting plans should be made on the basis of 8, rather than 10 plenary sessions requiring interpretation in a 5-day period, a considerable saving in expenditure.
• VOLUNTARY IMO MEMBER STATE AUDIT SCHEME. It was noted by the Council that a decision will need to be made at the Council’s 109th Session, on the sensitive issue of confidentiality in the context of a mandatory scheme, taking the outcome of MSC 90 and MEPC 64 into account. Meanwhile, Member States that have not yet volunteered for audit were encouraged to do so and were further invited to continue to nominate as many qualified auditors as possible; those nominated could participate in the auditors’ training courses being arranged by IMO.
• COUNSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF MEPC. The most notable items of concern to Intermanager members are:
(i) the decisions taken and work carried out, concerning implementation of the amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on energy efficiency for ships;
(ii) the progress made and decisions taken, concerning impact assessment of the proposed Market-based Measures for reduction of GHG emissions from ships; and
(iii) the approval of draft amendments to the IBC Code with a view to adoption at MEPC 64 and the decision taken on development of the Polar Code.
• CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF THE LEGAL COMMITTEE. Most notable was the inclusion of a new agenda item on the collation and preservation of evidence following an allegation of a serious crime having taken place on board a ship or following the report of a missing person from a ship with a target completion date of 2014. Further analysis will be carried out on the liability and compensation issues connected with trans-boundary pollution damage resulting from offshore oil exploration and exploitation activities, with the aim of developing guidance to assist States interested in pursuing bilateral or regional arrangements.
• CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF MSC. The Council noted the actions taken by the MSC on LRIT-related matters, general cargo ship safety and on issues related to passenger ship safety. Council also took note of measures to enhance maritime security, implementation of the STCW Convention; the technical assistance sub-programme in maritime safety and security; capacity building for the implementation of new measures; the role of the human element and finally guidelines related to maritime safety and security.
• WORLD MARITIME UNIVERSITY. The Council endorsed a proposal to establish an Endowment Fund and supported the proposed governance and management structures of the Fund with the establishment of a Board of Trustees. The current Secretary-General of IMO, Mr Koji Sekimizu was appointed WMU Chancellor for the two-year period commencing 1 July 2012.
• IMO INTERNATIONAL MARITIME LAW INSTITUTE. The Council recognised the essential role played by IMLI in strengthening the capacity of developing countries to implement the various IMO treaty instruments to which they are party. Mr Sekimizu was appointed Chairman of the IMLI Governing Board for the two-year period commencing 1 July 2012.
• PROTECTION OF VITAL SHIPPING LANES. The Council expressed its appreciation to the Secretary General for the initiative taken with respect to the high-level meetings, and to those who arranged, prepared for and contributed to the three most recent high-level piracy events. Council also expressed appreciation to the littoral States of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for the timely implementation of the various components of the Cooperative Mechanism in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
• EXTERNAL RELATIONS. With regard to seven NGO applications for consultative status, all were declined, largely on the grounds that their areas of expertise are already covered by other NGO’s which are already accredited.
• WORLD MARITIME DAY. The theme for 2013 will be: ‘Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio + 20’.
• INTERNATIONAL MARITIME PRIZE. This was awarded to Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos, the previous Secretary General of the IMO.
• PERIODIC REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS IN MANDATORY IMO INSTRUMENTS. An Ad-Hoc Steering Group on Reducing Administrative Requirements (SG-RAR) was formed ensuring appropriate geographical distribution and with the following criteria: 2 members each from the Flag States and Port States, 1 member each from the Shipowners, Seafarers, Classification Societies and IMO Secretariat. When CYPRUS pointed out that this will mean no representation from either Ship/Crew Managers and that of ship recycling the Council agreed to a limited number of additional members in the SG-RAR to take into account the 2 further interests identified. Intermanager has volunteered to participate and the Secretary-General will take action as appropriate. Information to Member States and observer organisations will be disseminated when the consultative process is established.
• REGIONAL MARINE POLLUTION EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTRE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA (REMPEC). This was established in 1976 as a UN inter-agency project between the UNEP Secretariat for the Barcelona Convention (22 Contracting Parties) based in Athens and the IMO. Contributions to a Trust Fund (Mediterranean) administered by UNEP are made annually by the Contracting Parties and to cut a long story short, the rate of collection of contributions to UNEP has fallen to a dangerously low level, provoking a serious cash-flow problem. IMO has responsibilities for the administration of the Centre, indeed they recruit and contract the staff, thus they are placed in an awkward position vis-à-vis the funding of staff contracts, ie the paying of salaries! However, following an extremely long and heated debate, the Council agreed to the Secretary-General’s proposal of maintaining the staff until November 2012 by making funds available as an 85,000 Euro capped loan from the Technical Cooperation fund (under their rules of procedure, and only in the event of a shortfall) and for him to convene a meeting with UNEP and the Barcelona Convention Parties to formulate a recovery plan such that there is no re-occurance of this embarrassing position. Not unexpectedly, the situation will be reviewed at the next Council meeting this November.

Captain Paddy McKnight

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