The IMO Committee on Facilitation held its 42nd Session (FAL 42) from Tuesday 5 through Friday 8 June 2018 under the Chairmanship of Mr Yury Melenas (RUSSIAN FEDERATION) together with his Vice Chair, Mrs Marina Angsell (SWEDEN).  On the final day of the meeting, the Committee sincerely thanked Mr Melanas on standing down (in accordance with the Rules of Procedure) , and acknowledged his excellent services whilst Chairing the Committee over the preceding six years.   Mrs Angsell was then promoted to the Chair for 2019 and Mr Moises de Gracia (PANAMA) elected as Vice-Chair.  During the meeting, two Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1    Electronic business, Mr Roger Butturini (USA)


WG2    Review and update the Explanatory Manual to the FAL Convention, Mrs Marina

Angsell (SWEDEN)


DG1    Review of FAL.6/Circ.14, Mr R Brough, (ICHCA)


The meeting was attended by representatives from 83 Member Governments, 1 each from the Associate Members and UN and Specialised Agencies, 4 Intergovernmental Organisations, and 27 Observers from Non-Governmental organisations.


Items of particular interest to InterManager Members are highlighted as follows:


ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL.  The Secretary-General expressed condolences to the people of Guatemala following the volcanic eruption that caused so much loss of life and significant damage.  On a cheerier note, he welcomed the latest Member State, NAURU, to the IMO, bringing membership to 174. He once more referred to the visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in March to celebrate the IMO’s 70th anniversary and re-affirmed that World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 27 September with a parallel event in Poland from 13 to 15 June.


He next referred to FAL 40 where three challenges were presented; the first to meet once a year, the second to focus more on the relationship between ships and ports and the third, to make FAL even more inclusive.  To assist these ambitions, there will be a Special Port Event after FAL 42 on

11 June to discuss issues such as the maritime single window, the port community system, how to improve facilitation, improvement of coordination and reduction of emissions in ports, including shore power supply.  This will be followed by a port security-focused event on 12 and 13 June to tease out best practices.


Rounding off his welcoming address, the S-G highlighted a few of the key issues that FAL 42 would discuss such as; the revision of the legal status of the Explanatory Manual to the FAL Convention, the legal status of the Appendices to the FAL Convention, Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport and the Maritime Single Window project, and, finally, the review of the IMO Compendium seeking to harmonise and standardise the data elements of FAL forms to guarantee the interoperability of maritime single windows.  Mr Lim then wished delegates every success in their deliberations.


AMENDMENTS TO THE FAL CONVENTION.  The Committee noted that no amendments to the annex to the Convention had been proposed for consideration or formal adoption at this session.  However, following the request of FAL 41 to the IMO Legal Committee for advice as to the legal status of the appendices to the FAL Convention, the Committee took due consideration and decided as follows :


Appendix 1.  (IMO FAL Forms referred to in Standard 2.19).   Agreed that appendix 1 is part of the FAL Convention;


Appendix 2. (Arrival and departure of persons).  Agreed that appendix 2 is not part of the Convention;


Appendix 3. (Form of stowaway details referred to in Recommended Practice 4.6.2).  Recalled that FAL 41 had agreed to include additional information on “port facility number”, together with the port, terminal and berth information, when reporting the place of boarding of stowaways, and approved :

  1. a unified interpretation of appendix 3 to the FAL Convention (FAL.7/Circ.1); and
  2. reports on stowaway incidents (FAL.2/Circ.50/Rev.3);


Appendix 4. (IMDG Code, amendments 38-16, chapter 5.4 on Documentation).  Agreed that Appendix 4 is not part of the FAL Convention.


REVIEW AND UPDATE THE EXPLANATORY MANUAL TO THE FAL CONVENTION.  Following discussion in Plenary to consider the report of the correspondence group (CG), WG2 was established and instructed to further develop the Explanatory Manual to the FAL Convention, taking into account comments made and decisions taken in Plenary based on the report of the CG (document FAL 42/4).  The Committee subsequently approved the report by WG2 in general, and in particular :

  1. Noted the progress made by the group on the review and update;
  2. Noted that the extended explanation relating to the Dangerous Goods Manifest (Standard 2.8.1) developed by the group could be deleted and instead, a reference made to the IMO Compendium;
  3. Invited proposals for the Explanatory Manual to FAL 43 relating to paragraphs 3.2.3/4/5;
  4. Instructed the Secretariat to seek advice from UNHCR on confidentiality when a stowaway declares himself/herself to be a refugee;
  5. Instructed the Secretariat to make any necessary editorial corrections and prepare a clean text of the Manual as the basis for approval by FAL 43;
  6. Noted WG2’s recommendation not to re-establish the CG on review and update of the Explanatory Manual to the FAL Convention; and
  7. Approved terms of reference for the CG on the Review and Update of the Annex to the FAL Convention.


APPLICATION OF SINGLE-WINDOW CONCEPT.  There were only 2 submissions related directly to this subject, one by NORWAY on automated ship reporting based on the Single Window concept and the other by ICS giving a perspective on the prototype maritime single window project, plus an information paper by the Republic of Korea on implementation of Simplified Services for Ships’ Port Clearance by using maritime multi-band ad-hoc Communication Technology.  Despite the paucity of submitted documents, there was a wide-ranging and prolonged debate in Plenary.  The ICS paper provided a perspective on the development of a prototype MSW by the Organisation to provide a more holistic approach, laying less emphasis on technology solutions, whilst that of Norway argued that a possible way to achieve such an holistic approach to the MSW concept, could be made possible by facilitation of automatic reporting in the future.  WG1 was tasked to consider the submissions of Norway and ICS as part of their work and in considering Actions requested of the Committee, it :


  1. Noted the discussion of the Group related to the application of the Single Window concept and the general support for collection of information and reporting under IMO’s various instruments to help reveal the scope for the Committee’s potential involvement in advising on facilitation aspects, particularly with regard to information related to the single window concept;
  2. Requested the Secretariat to review the final report of the Ad Hoc Steering Group for Reducing Administrative Requirements (SG-RAR) and the Inventory of administrative requirements as a starting point to identify elements relevant to implementation of the single window concept;
  3. Requested the Secretariat to notify other IMO committees of the intention to undertake this work and to share the results;
  4. Agreed to put in abeyance further work on the MSW prototype project until FAL 45 or such time as when a Member State requests recommencement; and
  5. Agreed to incorporate the concepts of an holistic approach for establishing MSW as expressed in document FAL 423/5/1 into Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport.

REVIEW AND REVISION OF THE IMO COMPENDIUM ON FACILITATION AND ELECTRONIC BUSINESS.  It was recalled that FAL 41 had noted the importance of standardising definitions of data elements referred to in FAL forms, because this would have a positive effect on the work of the Committee on interoperability, MSW, implementation of electronic certificates and e-navigation.  FAL 41 also approved a new output to review and revise the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business whilst noting that WCO had coordinated an informal Correspondence Group on the review and revision since FAL 39.  The Committee thanked WCO for its role as coordinator of the work through its DMPT Focus Group on “IMO FAL Compendium Technical Maintenance”, and also UNECE and ISO for their commitment to the harmonization of the various data models.  WG1 was invited to consider document FAL 42/6, WCO’s update on the progress of discussions on the Compendium, and to provide advice on the concepts and goals described therein, including scope and expectations.  Having received the relevant part of WG1’s report, the Committee :

  1. Noted the Group’s discussion of the review and revision of the IMO Compendium, also, their concerns about future maintenance of same whilst approving the proposed new format;
  2. Invited WCO to report on progress of the informal Correspondence Group to FAL 43;
  3. Noted the work done by the Group to advise the updating of FAL.5/Circ.36 under the new title, ‘Guidelines for setting up a maritime single window’;
  4. Agreed to re-establish a correspondence group to continue updating 3. above; and
  5. Encouraged Member States with MSW in place to provide the information necessary to populate the draft template of the revised guidelines for FAL 43.

UNSAFE MIXED MIGRATION BY SEA.  Note was taken of document FAL 42/9 by the Secretariat containing information on the Inter-agency Meeting on Mixed Migration held at IMO Headquarters on 30 October 2017 following an invitation to the Heads of international organisations concerned, also main stakeholders of the maritime industry.  The Committee further noted that the intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact for migration to be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York would conclude by July 2018 and that the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration would be held in Morocco from 10 to 11 December 2018.

CONSIDERATION AND ANALYSIS OF REPORTS AND INFORMATION ON PERSONS RESCUED AT SEA AND STOWAWAYS.  The Committee recalled that FAL 41 had agreed to review the Revised guidelines on the prevention of access by stowaways and the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases to reflect amendments to section 4 of the FAL Convention adopted by resolution FAL.12(40).  Accordingly, the Secretariat prepared a revised version of the Guidelines for consideration at this session and, taking into account amendments made at MSC 99, the Committee adopted resolution FAL.13(42) on ‘Revised guidelines on the prevention of access by stowaways and the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases’.


Following on from the regional seminar on Stowaways held in Abidjan in March 2014, a further one was held in Yaounde, Cameroon in March 2018 which drew further conclusions and recommendations approved by the participants for consideration by the Committee.  It was noted that the total number of reports received by the Organisation until 31 December 2017 was 4,577, which involved 14,270 stowaways; and the fact that, despite the new facility provided in GISIS, the downward trend of notifications to IMO was pronounced, and the number of reports submitted was very low, therefore, the statistics were not very reliable.  Member States and international organisations were urged to provide timely and accurate information on stowaway cases to the Organization, making use of the GISIS module in accordance with Standard 4.7.1 of the FAL Convention.


The P & I Clubs informed the Committee that a fourth data collection exercise, for the policy year 2017/18 has already been initiated, the results of which should indicate whether or not there has been any improvement in the situation as a result of the two regional seminars organized by IMO in 2014.  It was also noted that since the date of launch of the Inter-agency platform for information sharing on migrant smuggling by sea in GISIS on 6 July 2015, only six incidents have been introduced in the database.  Member States were once again encouraged to provide and update the necessary information via the Inter-agency platform for information sharing on migrant smuggling by sea in GISIS.

REVISION OF THE REVISED LIST OF EXISTING PUBLICATIONS RELEVANT TO AREAS AND TOPICS RELATING TO THE SHIP/PORT INTERFACE (FAL.6/Circ.14).  FAL 41 instructed the Secretariat to carry out a comprehensive review of the list of existing publications relevant to areas and topics related to the ship/port interface.  The Secretariat informed the Committee that since then, it had received updated lists of publications from some of the organisations referred to in FAL.6/Circ.14, i.e. UNCTAD, IHO, ICS, BIMCO, IACS, INTERTANKO, SIGTTO, ICHCA, IPIECA AND PIANC. Following this, the Committee established a drafting group, instructing it to prepare the list, as described.  This was duly done, and the Committee subsequently approved a draft revised circular (FAL.6/Circ.14) on ‘List of publications relevant to the ship/port interface’ drawn up by the DG, instructing the Secretariat to effect any necessary editorial modifications.

MARITIME CORRUPTION: IMPACT ON GLOBAL TRADE, PORT GOVERNANCE AND SEAFARERS.  The Committee considered document FAL 42/16/3 describing how maritime corruption has a negative effect, impedes social and economic development and may contribute to other risks such as security in ports and on board ships in addition to affecting the well-being, health and safety of seafarers.  In the ensuing discussion, views were expressed such as:


  1. Corruption is a serious problem for shipmasters and shipowners that has high costs and a negative impact for the image of the Industry;
  2. The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a very valuable platform for businesses to contribute to the elimination of corrupt practices;
  3. Corruption is a sensitive subject in most countries, it is also a two-way process with some masters trying to seek preferential treatment;
  4. IMO should play an active role using GISIS as a suggested platform on which to report corrupt practices to the countries where the incident occurred, bearing in mind confidentiality and the presumption of innocence;
  5. Corrupt practices are recognized as criminal acts in some national legislations;
  6. Regional seminars on corruption organized by IMO, similar to the ones on stowaways would be advisable; and
  7. An holistic approach to the problem should be adopted.


Following lively discussion, the Committee invited Member States to submit documents to FAL 43 with suggested actions to address this problem.


CREATION OF A COLLABORATIVE WEB-BASED WORKSPACE.  The Committee recalled that FAL 41, while recognizing the potential benefits of implementing a collaborative web-based workspace in IMO, nevertheless agreed that any further discussion should be considered by the Council rather than Committees and invited Member States to submit proposals to C 118.  In addition, the Secretariat was tasked to present further information to the Council, in particular, on accessibility to the system and the budgetry implications for developing and maintaining such a system.  In this regard, the Committee noted that C 118, having noted general support for the proposal, had requested the Secretary-General to inform C 120 on accessibility to the IMO Space, cybersecurity, additional financial and administrative resources required, and availability of an alternative open-source web-based workspace.


GUIDELINES ON MARITIME CYBER RISK MANAGEMENT.  It was recalled that FAL 41 had approved a joint MSC-FAL.1 circular on ‘Guidelines on maritime cyber risk management’, subject to concurrence by MSC 98 which was duly given.  Thus MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3 on the Guidelines supercedes the interim guidelines contained in MSC.1/Circ.1526.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING.  The next meeting, FAL 43, has been provisionally scheduled from Tuesday 9 to Friday 12 April 2019.


END                                                                                                   CAPTAIN PADDY McKNIGHT








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