IMO COUNCIL, 109th SESSION 5 – 9 November 2012

The IMO Council, the Governing Body of the Organisation, met for its 109th Session from Monday 5 through Friday 9 November 2012, under the Chairmanship of Mr J Lantz (USA); his Vice-Chairman, Mr D Ntuli (South Africa) was also present. In his opening remarks, the IMO Secretary General spoke of promoting ‘paper-smart’ meetings (which equate to ‘greener’ meetings) and that this week’s session would be conducted in a manner to help determine whether such an approach could be adapted to all IMO meetings. Thus, apart from the final working paper recording decisions taken during the C109 session, all other supporting documents were referred to on the IMO website.

Following is a very short summary of salient points that may be of interest to Intermanager members :
• STRATEGY, PLANNING AND REFORM. The Council took note of the status of planned outputs of the Assembly, Council and Secretariat for the 2012-2013 Biennium. It also welcomed the Secretary-General’s study on proposals for review and reform of the (IMO) Organisation noting that there are financial implications for which a number of budget growth scenarios had been submitted to Council. This was done in a transparent manner, projecting the implications for both Member States and the Secretariat. After an extensive debate, majority support was expressed for the Secretary-General’s ‘review and reform path’ representing mixed zero-growth, the preferred middle way between zero nominal and zero real, growth.
• REVIEW OF THE SUB-COMMITTEES. The Council endorsed in principle:
(1) An amalgamation of the NAV and COMSAR sub-committees, but rejected the proposal that SAR issues should be considered in an intersessional working group reporting to MSC on a biennial basis.
(2) A reallocation of responsibilities between the current DE, FP and SLF sub-committees renamed as Technical I and Technical II.
(3) A renaming of the sub-committee of the Flag State Implementation to that of solely ‘Implementation’ though retaining its existing terms of reference.
(4) The establishment of a sub-committee to deal exclusively with environment-related matters and as a consequence, renaming BLG as the sub-committee on the Environment.
(5) The renaming of DSC as sub-committee on Cargoes (to include wet and dry).
In endorsing these principles, the Council invited the MSC and MEPC to examine the implications and practicability of the relevant proposals under their respective purview, including the appropriateness of the proposed new names and to report back to Council’s next session in July 2013.
• WORKING PRACTICES AFFECTING THE COMMITTEES’ GUIDELINES. The Council :
(1) Noting the unfair effect on smaller delegations, rejected the proposal that a restriction on the combination of the five Ad Hoc groups at any session of the sub-committees be removed; nor did it endorse the proposal that the maximum number of substantive agenda items be restricted to 10.
(2) Agreed that unplanned outputs (duly costed) only be accepted within a biennium in truly exceptional circumstances.
(3) Noted potential savings in utilising experienced editors rather than [more costly] technical officers in preparing meeting documents.
(4) Endorsed the proposed revision of the annotated agendas of meetings to contain all relevant background information; and
(5) Requested the Secretary-General to table a detailed proposal at the next Council Session on the conduct and evaluation of a trial for a revised reporting format and procedures which should include identification of the cost and benefits accruing to Member States and the Secretariat.
• PRIORITY SETTING. Following a UK proposal which enjoyed unanimous support, the Council agreed to defer until the 2014-2015 biennium, a planned output which would apply the risk management framework to all elements of the Strategic Direction and the High-level Action plan. The resources thus made available would be used to establish a one-off meeting of the Council Working Group on Prioritisation to meet in spring 2013 and which would be open to all Member States.
• MEETING SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS. The Council was invited to note the benefits to be gained from the introduction of enhanced audio recording systems in capturing discussion and thus obviating the need for a written summary of debates. Towards this end, the current audio system in the Main Hall, also Committee Rooms 9 and 10 has been upgraded with a view to obviating the need to produce [hard copy] summary records and summary of discussion in the working languages (French, Spanish and English) and which would need no longer form part of the written report thus leading to considerable cost savings. This provoked extensive, even somewhat rebellious, exchanges in which a majority of Member States expressed opposition to doing away with the need for a written summary of debates, particularly those emanating from the Working Groups. Equally, Council did not support a proposed strategy that background information features in the annotated agenda should contain only references, outcomes and decisions since the full discussion is recorded and available online. However, it was agreed that the Secretary-General would prepare a document for the next Council meeting setting out precise details for a [paper-smart] trial to be conducted by a nominated sub-committee, with particular regard to costs attributable to the Organisation and its Members.
• RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. With regard to the engagement of secondees provided at no cost to the IMO on secondment from institutions, private sector corporations or Member States, the Council agreed that:
(1) All proposed secondees, including those from the private sector, should be channelled through Member States.
(2) Sponsors from the private sector only would be required to pay IMO an annual sum of 12 per cent of the total cost if their secondees are paid through IMO, or a fee of US $10,000 if not; and
(3) Where secondees are paid through IMO, advance payment of their emoluments should be made to IMO.
• VOLUNTARY IMO MEMBER STATE AUDIT SCHEME. The number of Member States volunteering for audit now represents about 40% of IMO’s total membership at an average cost per audit of £11,000. In the debate that ensued on the issue of confidentiality, there were two camps. The first, championed by SWEDEN, felt that transparency is paramount, asserting that the working group [on the audit scheme] had voted for full automatic release (and to the public) though this had been ‘watered down’ to releasing only the Executive Summary. The other camp, notably CHINA, pointed out that the aim of the audit is to assist Member States, also that sovereign and legal differences means that release should be selective and even then only amongst Member States. SOUTH AFRICA endorsed this view adding that the aim is technical cooperation and capacity building, not to ‘name and shame’ thus dictating agreement before release. Given the balance in Members’ points of view, the Council decided that the release of the executive summary report [of the relevant audit] and the Member States’ comments on the implementation of its corrective action plan to the public or Member States, will be subject to authorisation by the Member State concerned prior to the audit. Additionally, this aspect of the mandatory scheme will be kept under review.
• CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF THE MARITIME ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION COMMITTEE. The Council took note of work carried out at MEPC 64, in particular, that concerning the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention. Recognising that a number of significant technical issues still require resolution, Council urged MEPC to identify and suggest pragmatic solutions to any impediment delaying the early entry into force and implementation of the Convention, especially those concerning Port State Control issues. Particular note was also taken of work carried out on the Hong Kong Convention and the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI amendment concerning energy efficiency for ships.
Council instructed the Secretariat to seek comment from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the possible incompatibility between WTO rules and Market-Based Measures (MBM) for international shipping prior to MEPC 65.
• REGIONAL MARINE POLLUTION EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTRE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA (REMPEC). The Secretary-General informed Council that, funding has now become available for REMPEC until the end of this year thus a draw-down facility from the TCC fund would not be required. However, given that assured REMPEC funding is available only to mid-2013, the Secretary-General was again authorised to extend REMPEC credit, if needed, for the second half of 2013.
• IMO INTERNATIONAL MARITIME LAW INSTITUTE (IMLI) The Statute of IMLI was amended to reflect:
(1) A Board composition of not more than 20 Governors, rather than the current figure of 40.
(2) That the initial term of the Director shall be four years (rather than two) and successive terms also of four years.
(3) Changes will come into effect on 1 July 2013.
INDIA’s suggestion of the term ‘centre of excellence’ will be included in the Statute whilst a further suggestion that the word ‘Institute’ be replaced by ‘University’ will be duly examined.
• 110th REGULAR AND 27th EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS OF THE COUNCIL. It was agreed that the next Council session will take place from 15 through 19 July 2013 with interpretation facilities throughout. A decision will then be taken regarding the 27th Extraordinary Session scheduled for 21 and 22 November (prior to Assembly 28 the following week) as to whether a third day (Saturday 23 November) will be necessary.

Captain Paddy McKnight

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