The IMO Assembly held its 30th Session from Monday 27 November through Wednesday 6 December 2017 under the Presidency of His Excellency Mr. Rolando Drago Rodriguez of CHILE.
InterManager Members will recall that the IMO Assembly is the highest Governing Body of the organisation and meets every second year to approve the work programme, endorse the budget and generally check the workings of the various committees within IMO. It also elects an Executive Body, known as the Council, for the two year interim period, charged with supervising the conduct of IMO’s work and provides the forum for the annual Bravery at Sea awards, also that for the International Maritime Prize.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 162 Member States, plus 2 Associates, 3 UN and Special Agencies, 10 Inter-Governmental and 40 Non-Governmental organisations. Of the 1600 delegates enrolled for the meeting, 1400 turned up making it a pretty large gathering.
In his opening address to the Assembly, the Secretary General welcomed all 162 Member States in attendance, which marked the completion of his second year in office. He spoke of the importance in formally adopting the new IMO Strategic Plan 2018-2023 and its application. Following expression of his condolences over recent incidents in the Sinai Peninsula and that for the 44 crew members of the missing Argentinian submarine, ARA San Juan, the S-G reminded delegates of the importance he attached to formally adopting the new Strategic Plan 2018-2023 plus its application. In it, he stated that the 7 Strategic Directions point us towards more effective rulemaking and implementation processes by the integration of new and advanced technology with which to respond to all challenges. He saw these as being increases in ship safety, including new emerging technologies such as autonomous vessels, facilitation of international trade, engagement in ocean governance and IMO’s contribution towards combatting cybercrime, all of these, whilst taking due consideration of Human Element factors. In order to achieve these objectives, he wished to transform IMO into a knowledge-based organisation which would enable the Secretariat to perform the necessary adjustments in order to further improve implementation and improve rule-making. The next part of his delivery explored ideas on how best to deal with technology moving faster than the pace of the regulatory process and put forward his belief that the regulatory framework must be based around solutions of goals and functions (rather than prescriptive solutions) which would address better the time lag between adoption and entry-into-force of new rules and regulations. In changing the organisation to a more knowledge-based concept, a functional review of the Secretariat has been set in train which will embrace the era of digitalisation and encompass technologies such as artificial intelligence. This would provide greater opportunities to enhance the amount of data and statistics needed in order to understand underlying trends and causal factors behind ship casualties. In referring to Green House Gases, the S-G reminded delegates that IMO’s Member States have told the world that they will produce a comprehensive strategy in order to reduce GHG emissions from ships, for which the initial plan will be adopted next year together with a clear vision of real substance regarding a revised [ambitious] roadmap for 2023.
With regard to the composition of the Council, members fall into three categories, viz:
- Category (a) 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services;
- Category (b) 10 other States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade; and,
- Category (c) 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) which have special interest in maritime transport or navigation and, importantly, whose election to the Council ensures the representation of all major geographic interests of the world.
The 10 sitting States in Category (a) were unchallenged and remain in post. In Category (b) however, 162 valid votes were cast for 12 contenders vying for the 10 places. This resulted in promotion to the Council of AUSTRALIA and the UAE whilst ARGENTINA and BANGLADESH were demoted. Finally, Category (c) was also keenly contested by 24 Member States seeking to win the 20 seats. In the event, the 4 States receiving the least number of votes and thus not elected were; ALGERIA, ANTIGUA and BARBUDA, NIGERIA and SAUDI ARABIA.
The composition of the new Council in alphabetical order within the 3 categories is therefore:
- Category (a) CHINA, GREECE, ITALY, JAPAN, NORWAY, PANAMA, REPUBLIC of KOREA, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, UK and the USA.
- Category (b) AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, FRANCE, GERMANY, INDIA, NETHERLANDS, SPAIN, SWEDEN, and the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
- Category (c) BAHAMAS, BELGIUM, CHILE, CYPRUS, DENMARK, EGYPT, INDONESIA, JAMAICA, KENYA, LIBERIA, MALAYSIA, MALTA, MEXICO, MOROCCO, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SINGAPORE, SOUTH AFRICA, THAILAND and TURKEY.
- COMMITTEES OF THE ASSEMBLY. Two Committees were formed in order to focus specialist skills, the first (Committee 1) on Administrative, Financial, Legal and Technical Cooperation, the other (Committee 2) on Technical matters. In consideration of the Committees’ reports, the Assembly:
- adopted a draft Assembly resolution on the Strategic Plan of the Organisation for the six-year period 2018 to 2023, also its application. This follows a number of ‘Strategic Directions’ (SD’s), specifically : Improve implementation; Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework; Respond to climate change; Engage in ocean governance; Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade; Ensure regulatory effectiveness; and, Ensure organisational effectiveness.
- approved the reports of the Legal, Maritime Safety, Marine Environment and Protection, Technical Cooperation and Facilitation committees;
- considered the main activities of the Contracting Parties to the London Convention and it’s Protocol, duly noting their reports
- thanked Member States and other donors for their contributions which made technical assistance possible;
- adopted a draft resolution on the ‘Results-Based Budget for the 2016 – 2017 biennium;
- adopted the following resolutions of note:
- Escape route signs and equipment location markings;
- IMO Ship identification Number Scheme;
- Revised Guidelines on the implementation of the ISM Code;
- Procedures for Port State Control;
- Survey Guidelines under the Harmonised System of Survey and Certification (HSSC);
- Non-exhaustive list of obligations under instruments relevant to the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code);
- Code for the transport and handling of Hazardous and Noxious liquid substances in bulk on Offshore Support Vessels (OSV Chemical Code);
- Implementation and entry into force of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol;
- Delegation of authority to issue certificates of insurance or other financial security required under the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 2010 HNS Convention; and,
- Linkages between IMO’s technical assistance work and the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development;
- INTERNATIONAL MARITIME PRIZE. The Prize for 2016 was awarded to Mr Koji Sekimizu, IMO Secretary-General Emeritus who was nominated by Japan. It is awarded annually by the IMO Council to the individual or organisation judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work and objectives of the IMO. This paid tribute to Mr Sekimizu’s long service within the IMO culminating in his recent successful 4 year term of office as the Secretary-General.
- IMO BRAVERY AWARD. The IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, which was established in 2005, provides international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the environment. There are three categories of honour: first, the Award itself, second, Certificates of Commendation for acts of extraordinary bravery and third, Letters of Commendation for meritorious actions. The top award was made to two members of the Houston Pilots, Captains Michael McGee and Phillips for their superb handling of an incident involving fire on board a tanker whilst berthing in which they avoided the on-board spread of fire (indeed, inferno) to the ship’s cargo of oil and also managed to circumvent collateral damage to other ships in the vicinity. Three Certificates of Commendation and five Letters of Commendation were also awarded.
- WORLD MARITIME DAY 2018. The theme for World Maritime Day in 2018 will be: “IMO 70: Our heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future” noting that it will also commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention.
- Relations between IMO and Non-Governmental Organisations. 12 new applications for consultative status were received since Assembly 29, of which only 2 were granted namely that to the Active Shipbuilding Experts’ Federation (ASEF) and the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). The International Association of Technical Survey and Classification Institutions (TSCI) was instructed to submit further information to Assembly 120. The Assembly then endorsed the recommendation of the Council to maintain the consultative status of the current list of authorised organisations, amongst which InterManager is included. Of note was a complaint regarding the action of Greenpeace International when 25 of their activists surrounded a Bahamas-flagged ship in confined waters causing considerable danger to the vessel. In voicing this, the Bahamas delegation accordingly objected to the continuation of consultative status by Greenpeace following which the Secretary-General undertook to investigate the alleged situation and will report back to Council.
- MEMBER STATE AUDIT (MSA) SCHEME. The GISIS module on MSA, developed by the Secretariat provides a common platform for the implementation of the scheme which has been mandatory since January 2016. Member States that are scheduled to be audited after 2018 and who are prepared to have their audits brought forward, were invited to inform the Secretary-General as soon as possible.
- DATE OF NEXT MEETING. ASSEMBLY 31 will be held during Autumn 2019.
- MEETING OF COUNCIL 119. Following dissolution of Assembly 30, the newly formed Council met for the first time the following day, Thursday 7 December 2017. In a surprise development, Mr J Lantz announced that he would not be standing for re-election as Chair of the Council following which, his Vice Chair, Mr X Zhang (CHINA) was promoted to succeed Mr Lantz. Following further debate, it was decided that a new candidate for the post of Vice Chair will be selected at Council 120 which will take place from 2 – 6 July 2018 as that will give Member State capitals a chance to evaluate the most suitable person for the position
Captain Paddy McKnight END