The IMO Council held its 125th session (C125) remotely from Monday 28 June through Friday 2 July 2021 under the coordination of the Chair, Vice-President Mr Edmundo Deville del Campo (PERU).




Council Members that had registered on the Online Meeting Registration System (OMRS) presented their credentials, all of which were in order, thus deemed to be “present” within the rules of procedure of the Council, and in accordance with the interim guidance to facilitate remote sessions of the IMO Council during the COVID-19 pandemic .  A number of Observer Member States also took part in the meeting, together with Associate Members, Intergovernmental organisations, and Non-governmental organisations.


Two Working groups were formed during the meeting to discuss Council Reforms and Strategic Planning:


IMO ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE.  In order to better understand this report, following is a very basic description as to how the IMO structure is organised: The Assembly is comprised of 174 Member States which meet every two years (shortly to be every four years), the next occasion being in December 2021.  In the intervening period, a Council of 40 Member States (shortly to be 52), elected during Assembly, carries out the functions of the Assembly. Committees such as the MSC, MEPC, Legal Affairs, FAL and Technical Cooperation report directly to the Council and hence Assembly.  The Committees in turn, are assisted in their work by specialist Sub-Committees such as CCC, HTW, III, NCSR, PPR, SDC, and SSE who answer to the Committee related to their subject area e.g. NCSR reports to MSC whilst PPR reports to MEPC. This, then, is the chain of command and the Secretary-General heads the Organisation whereby he tasks the Secretariat in response to the dictates of the Member States, as described above.




Strategy and Planning.  An open-ended working group, replete with appropriate terms of reference, met in parallel with the plenary session.  The Council approved the report of the Group, in general, and in particular:


  • Approved the strategic direction on the human element as specified;
  • Approved performance indicators (PIs) to the strategic direction on the human element;
  • Requested the Secretariat to analyse the data for the agreed PIs as part of the third analysis of the PIs of the Strategic Plan for 2018-2023;
  • Requested the Secretariat to align the relevant outputs to the new strategic direction for the 2022-2023 biennium;
  • Further requested the Secretariat to submit a revised Strategic Plan, including the revised table of PIs, the list of outputs for the 2022-2023 biennium,, and Assembly resolution to the next session of the Council;
  • Approved the deletion of PI 6.3 of amendments per mandatory instrument within four years of entry into force;
  • Requested Member States to submit proposals to a future session on additional PIs, in particular for SD2 and SD6;
  • Encouraged Member States to submit assessments on the suitability of current PIs to a future session and suggest enhancements where necessary;
  • Agreed that while the additional PIs on safety and environmental protection are necessary, further clarification is needed to include them at this stage; and,
  • Encouraged Member States to submit information and data, noting the importance of mandatory reporting in GISIS, in particular on marine casualties.


Reform.  Following a preliminary discussion in which approval was given for the relevant portions of the report of the Intersessional Working Group on Council reform not already approved a C/ES.33, the Council approved the revised work plan of the Working Group and endorsed the re-establishment of the Group.  Terms of reference were issued and its subsequent report was approved in general.  In particular, Council:


  • Approved and recommended the Draft guidance on consistent application of Article 17 (Council composition) of the IMO Convention to the Assembly for adoption;
  • Endorsed the recommendation of the Group to proceed with the preparation of consolidated versions of IMO Conventions;
  • Invited the committees to develop a priority list of conventions for which a consolidated version would be most beneficial;
  • Noted the discussion of the Group on the different options for financing the human resources required for such consolidation and requested the Secretariat to provide further detailed information on the available financing options;
  • Endorsed the recommendation of the Group regarding the nature of access that should be applied to the different types of documents contained on IMODOCS;
  • Noted the discussion of the Group on live streaming of IMO meetings to the public;
  • Requested the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive review of live streaming meetings to the public, including all financial, technical, and security implications;
  • Further requested information on the policies and practises at the United Nations as to which meetings were selected for live-streaming to the public;
  • Approved a revised work plan for the Working Group on Council Reform; and,
  • Endorsed the re-establishment of the Working Group on Council Reform at a future session of the Council.



RESOURCE MANAGEMENT.  This agenda item covered a wide range of topics including Human Resource matters, the Financial Report, Report on Investments, Budgetry matters for 2021, and a report on the Functional Review.  Of particular interest, the Council noted the oral report by the Chairman of the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia and the Secretary-General on the Organisation’s financial report and audited financial statements for the financial year ended 31 December 2020, and the External Auditor’s report and opinion thereon.  In this regard, the Council, in particular:


  • Welcomed the unqualified opinion of the External Auditor [which was laudable];
  • Expressed its appreciation to the External Auditor for his report; and,
  • Welcomed the Secretary-General’s stewardship of the Organisation’s Funds and his report to the Council.


In respect of budgetry matters for 2021, the Secretary-General concluded that expenditure could be maintained within the approved allotment across all Funds although such a conclusion is dependent on the maintenance of the excellent collection rate of the annual assessment on Member States.




The Council endorsed the Organisation’s regular budget staff complement for the 2022-2023 biennium, which will remain unchanged at 265.  It also approved, in principle, the regular budget for the 2022-2023 biennium of £75,671,000 comprising an appropriation of £37,350,000 for 2022 and an appropriation of £38,321,000 for 2023.  The Secretary-General will provide his detailed results-based budget reflecting the conclusions and decisions of   C125, together with a related draft Assembly resolution, at Council’s thirty-fourth extraordinary session, for consideration.




The Council noted the information set out in documents C125/7 and C125/7/1, on the reports of the MSC at its 102ndand 103rd sessions, respectively.

Points of particular interest to InterManager members on both documents, were noted by the Council as follows:


  • The adoption by the Committee of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and associated mandatory codes, part B of the STCW Code as well as the approval and adoption of two non-mandatory instruments;
  • Decisions taken on matters related to the goal-based ship construction standards (GBS) for bulk carriers and oil tankers and the GBS verification scheme;
  • The actions taken with regard to the outcome of the Sub-Committees reporting to the session, in particular the approval of a draft Assembly resolution on guidelines for vessel traffic services and revocation of A.658(16) following adoption of resolution MSC.481(102) on Revised use and fitting of retro-reflective materials on life-saving appliances;
  • Decisions taken on matters related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on safe ship crew changes, unforeseen delay in the delivery of ships and other safety-related matters;
  • That the Committee completed the regulatory scoping exercise on the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS);
  • The progress made regarding the development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel-oil and measures to improve domestic ferry safety;
  • The adoption of resolution MSC.489(103) on Recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea;
  • Decisions taken on matters related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ship safety related matters, in particular the adoption of resolution MSC.490 on Recommended action to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination of seafarers;
  • Endorsement of the establishment of a standing Joint ILO/IMO Working Group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element, subject to the groups method of work adopted by the Special Tripartite Committee (STC) of ILO, by relevant IMO Committees;
  • The decision of the Committee to approve 11 new outputs; and,
  • The holding of an intersessional meeting of the Editorial and Technical Group

(E&T 36) in the first half of 2022.





The Committee noted the information set out in document C 125/8 on the report of the

forty-fourth session of FAL, in particular:


  • The decisions regarding measures for greater public access to information;
  • The progress made on the review of the annex to the 1965 FAL Convention;
  • Developments regarding the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, including approval of a revised version;
  • The progress made on the guidance to address maritime corruption; and,
  • That the Committee strongly endorsed resolution MSC.473(ES.2) on Recommended action to facilitate ship crew change, access to medical care and seafarer travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.




The Council considered the information set out in document C 125/9 on the outcome of the seventy-fifth session of MEPC and in particular, noted:


  • That the Committee adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI and the 2004 BWM Convention;
  • The action taken on issues related to ballast water management, in particular the approval of BWM systems that make use of Active Substances;
  • The action taken by the Committee on issues related to air pollution and energy efficiency of ships, in particular the adoption of resolution MEPC.326(75) on 2020 Guidelines for monitoring the worldwide average sulphur content of fuel oils supplied for use on board ships;
  • The action taken by MEPC on issues related to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from ships. In this regard, the adoption of resolution MEPC.327(75) on Encouragement of Member States to develop and submit voluntary National Action Plans to address GHG emissions from ships.  Further, the approval of the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI concerning mandatory goal-based technical and operational measures to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping plus arrangements for a comprehensive impact assessment of the short-term measure and the Fourth IMO GHG Study 2020; and,
  • Consideration of a proposal for the development of a research and development (R&D) programme to accelerate the introduction of low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies.


Actions taken by the Committee on the outcome of PPR 7.


The Committee:


  • Endorsed the evaluation of products and cleaning additives by PPR and the development of associated guidance; and,
  • Approved draft amendments to annexes 1 and 4 to the 2001 AFS Convention; MEPC.1/Circ.889 on 2020 Guidelines for onboard sampling of fuel oil intended to be used or carried for use on board a ship; 2/Circ.70/Rev.1 on 2020 Guidance for the commissioning testing of ballast water management systems; BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.2 on 2020 Guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis for trial use in accordance with the BWM Convention and Guidelines (G2); and the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex 1 concerning prohibition on the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oil by ships in Arctic waters; and,
  • Approved the decision taken by the Committee concurrent with that of MSC 102 on the outcome of HTW 6 regarding a conversion of STCW model courses into e-learning model courses.


Actions taken by the Committee on the outcome of III 5 and III 6.


The Committee:


  • Instructed III to consider the Consolidated Audit Summary Reports (CASRs) completed in 2017 and 2018 and approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I, IV and VI concerning the exemption of unmanned non self-propelled (UNSP) barges from survey and certification requirements;
  • Noted the action taken by the Committee regarding technical cooperation activities for the protection of the marine environment; and,
  • Approved MSC-MEPC.1/Circ.5/Rev.2 on Organisation and method of work of the MSC and MEPC Committees and their subsidiary bodies.


Regarding matters emanating from the seventy-sixth session of the Committee, endorsement was given to holding the ninth meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions of Ships (ISWG-GHG 9) from 15 to 17 September 2021; the tenth meeting of ISWG-GHG 10 from 18 to 22 October 2021; and an intersessional meeting of the ESPH Technical Group in 2022.





The Council noted the Committee’s decision inviting the Secretariat to make arrangements hosting a possible online repository under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) draft instrument on the foreign judicial sale of ships and their recognition, as an additional GISIS module, providing a progress report to LEG 108.

The Council approved the report of the 107th session of LEG in general and transmitted it to the Assembly at its thirty-second session, in accordance with Article 21(b) of the IMO Convention.





The Committee noted the outcome of the seventieth session of the TCC and in particular, noted:


  • The establishment of a CG on Measuring the Impact of Technical Cooperation in Training and Capacity building;
  • The establishment of a Working Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during this session of the Committee, and the progress made by the Group on developing SMART indicators for data collection within IMO’s mandate for technical cooperation; and,
  • Adoption of the new document on the Organisation and method of work of the TCC, which was circulated as TC.1/Circ.74.


The Council approved the proposed amendment to resolution A.1128(30) on Financing and partnership arrangements for an effective and sustainable Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme in relation to the IMO Regional Presence Scheme.  It also approved the report of TCC 70 and transmitted it, with its comments and recommendations to the Assembly at its thirty second session.





The Council noted the information set out in document C 125/14 regarding developments related to the Cooperative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection (Cooperative Mechanism), as well as C 125/INF.6 reporting on the twenty-fourth Meeting of the Aids to Navigation Fund (ANF) committee under the Cooperative Mechanism.  Continued support for the Cooperative Mechanism was expressed and note taken of the discussions on safety of navigation and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.





World Maritime University (WMU).  The Council noted the information set out in documents C 125/15(a) and C 125/15(a)/1, on the report of the Board of Governors and budget, respectively, of the WMU. The Council, in particular:


  • Noted the key elements of the 2019 operations of the University;
  • Urged Member States to take action so as to enable recognition, under their national legislation, of the degrees conferred by the University;
  • Expressed appreciation to donors who had contributed financially and in-kind to WMU;
  • Strongly urged Member States, IGOs, NGOs and industry to continue support and render financial assistance to the WMU;
  • Noted the University’s Trending Budget for 2020 and the Initial budget for 2021; and
  • Welcomed the efforts by WMU management to attract additional revenue.


Of note, Council welcomed the information provided by Sweden and the Secretary-General that the Government of Sweden had decided to recognise masters and doctoral degrees conferred by WMU, subject to adoption of an act by the Swedish Parliament.


IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI).  The Council noted the information set out in documents C 125/15(b) and C 125/15(b)/1 on the report of the Governing Board of IMLI and the Institute’s budget for 2020, together with the proposal for 2021, respectively.

The first four bullet-points in WMU’s report above were essentially voiced again but applicable to IMLI.





Provisional agenda for the thirty-second regular session of the Assembly.  The Council approved the provisional agenda for A 32 as contained in the annex to document

C 125/16(a) with the inclusion of an agenda item on “Matters arising from the COVID-19 pandemic”.


Preparations for the thirty-second regular session of the Assembly.  The Council determined that A 32 should be held as a remote session with correspondence, and virtual meetings using the KUDO platform.  The Secretary-General was requested to make the necessary arrangements and to provide information on the following:


  • Developments on hybrid meetings capabilities of the Organisation for possible future meetings as hybrid sessions; the possibility of extending the working hours of the Assembly to accommodate general statements; and, possible arrangements to allow for additional speaker slots/active participants for Member States on the KUDO platform, reporting to Member States and Council Members prior to, and during the next session of the Council, as appropriate.
  • Endorsed voting by secret ballot, in person, during A 32, subject to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time of voting;
  • Recommended that those Member States without a presence in London, to accredit a representative in London to their delegation for the purposes of casting a vote during the Assembly;
  • Agreed that general statements made during A 32 should be time-limited and pre-recorded; and,
  • Also agreed that, given the time constraints for A 32, statements delivered in support of candidacies for election to the Council, normally provided just before the voting process begins, be dispensed with.


Draft report of the Council to the Assembly on the work of the Organisation since the thirty-first regular session of the Assembly.  The Council noted the information set out in document C 125/16(c), on the draft report of the Council to the Assembly on the work of the Organisation since the thirty-first regular session and requested the Secretariat to update it, as necessary, prior to the thirty-second Assembly session.


Draft amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.  The Council approved draft revised Rules of Procedure of the Assembly as set out in the annex to document C 125/16(d), with the amendments proposed in J paper number 4.  In particular, it renumbered the waiver provision in Article 61 of the IMO Convention ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’; incorporated gender-neutral language in rules 23-25 and 45; added substantive provisions relating to other Participants in rules 1,4,7,8,17,27,32,34,35,48,51,55 and 56; invitation of experts (rule 60); and suspension of rules (rule 62).  The approved draft revised Rules of Procedure of the Assembly were forwarded to the Assembly with a view to adoption at its thirty-second session.



EXTERNAL RELATIONS.  This item covered a spread of topics including ones of particular interest as follows:


  • Relations with non-governmental organisations. Due to time constraints, the Council postponed consideration of this item to the next session;
  • World Maritime Day (WMD). The Council advised Member States that they will be advised in due course, the arrangements to celebrate WMD 2021 around the theme chosen for the year: “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”.  It was agreed to postpone WMD Parallel events by one additional year, thus South Africa’s celebrations will be held in 2022 and other succeeding nations also delayed by one year.  The Council endorsed the proposed theme for 2022, that of, “New technologies for greener shipping” and authorised the necessary action for the celebration of WMD 2022.
  • Day of the Seafarer. The Council noted that the report on the Day of the Seafarer for 2021 will be submitted for Council’s consideration at its next session.
  • International Maritime Prize. The Council unanimously awarded the International Maritime Prize for 2020 to Mr Paul Sadler, who served as IACS Accredited Representative to IMO from 2007 until his retirement in December 2019.  During his tenure, Mr Sadler constantly advocated robust, pragmatic and effective maritime regulation, whilst playing a significant part in its development and implementation.  He was always constructive in his many interventions during plenary sessions and by virtue of his intellect, was able to simplify matters of a highly technical nature, such that delegates, not of a technical persuasion, were better able to grasp the issue being discussed;
  • IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. The Council endorsed the decision of the Panel of Judges to bestow the 2021 IMO Award on Mr. Tran Van Khoi, search and Rescue Officer of the Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre No.II, Viet Nam Maritime Administration, for his extraordinary courage, determination and endurance displayed in rescuing four survivors from a sunken vessel, in the midst of extreme weather and heavy seas.  In addition, the Council endorsed the decision of the Panel of Judges to award a well merited eight Certificates of Commendation plus a further six Letters of Commendation;
  • IMO Goodwill Maritime Ambassador(GMA) Scheme. The Council, recalling that it  had postponed consideration of this agenda item to C 125, and noted the information set out in documents C 124/5(g) and C 125/INF.4 on the update of the IMO-GMA Scheme.



STATUS OF CONVENTIONS AND OTHER MULTILATERAL INSTRUMENTS IN RESPECT OF WHICH THE ORGANISATION PERFORMS FUNCTIONS.  This item was deferred from Council’s previous session.  In considering it, endorsement was given to the Secretary-General’s continuing efforts to encourage Governments to accept those instruments to which they are not yet parties and have not yet been ratified, namely the 2009 Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention, the 2012 Cape Town agreement and the 2010 HNS Protocol, to enable their entry into force as soon as possible.



MATTERS ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.  The Council noted the information set out in document C 125/21, on the update of remote meeting capabilities and adopted a draft Council resolution on the enhancement of information and communications (ICT) at IMO.


PLACE, DATE AND DURATION OF THE NEXT TWO SESSIONS OF THE COUNCIL.  The Council confirmed that C/ES.34 will be held virtually from Monday 8 to Friday12 November 2021 and C 126 to be held on Thursday16 December 2021, with full interpretation services provided for the sessions.







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