Constitution of the Maritime Safety Committee

 

The Assembly held its first meeting in London from January 6th to January 19th, 1959, under the presidency of Louis Audette from Canada. “A dispute arose concerning the election of the Maritime Safety Committee. Article 28 (a) pro­vided that this important Committee should " consist of fourteen Members elected by the Assembly from the Members, Governments of those nations having an important interest in maritime safety, of which not less than eight shall be the largest ship-owning nations (1).  On January 15th, the Assembly elected the following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, France and Germany. Objection was taken to the election of France and Germany on the grounds that, in terms of the merchant fleets of IMO Members shown according to Lloyd's Register of Shipping Statistical Tables, 1968, these countries were not as large "ship-owning nations" as Liberia and Panama (2). Six members were elected as being " Members, governments of other nations with an important interest in maritime safety, such as nations interested in the supply of large numbers of crews or in the carriage of large numbers of berthed and unberthed passengers, and of major geographical areas " (3).

 “Accordingly, four days later, it was decided to request the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on the following question: " Is the Maritime Safety Committee of the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, which was elected on January 15, 1959, constituted in accordance with the Convention for the establishment of the Organization ? “ (…)

The Court rendered its opinion' (see below) to the effect that the Maritime Safety Committee was not properly constituted since Article 28 (a) required the Assembly to elect the eight countries, with the largest amount of registered tonnage, and this had not been done (4)

In 1961, the second session of the Assembly opened on April 5th and adopted twenty resolutions. The first of these involved the decision, upon consideration of the Advisory Opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice on June 8, 1960," to dissolve the Maritime Safety Committee elected on January 18, 1959; to constitute a new Maritime Safety Committee in accordance with Article 28 of the Convention as interpreted by the Court; and to declare that the measures already taken by the improperly constituted Maritime Safety Committee were " hereby adopted and confirmed.

Footnotes:

(1) Johnson, D.H.N: IMCO: The First Four Years (1959-1962) “The International and Comparative Law Quarterly” 12 (1963): 36-55

(2) The following eight Members were elected as " the eight largest shipowning nations: United States of America (24,848,818); United Kingdom (21,712,174); Norway (11,688,400); Liberia (10,978,765); Japan (7,654,962); Greece (5,428,109); Italy (5,866,988); and France (5,045,088). The figures in brackets show gross tonnage of merchant ships registered as at February 28, 1961, on Lloyd's Register of Shipping. The figure for the United States shows the reserve fleet. These eight countries were at the top of the list in Lloyd's Register. The tonnage figures in that Register were therefore followed without exception.

 

 

(3) The six members were: Argentina (1,117,840), Canada (1,658,704), Federal Republic of Germany (4,685,818), Nether­lands (4,977,728), Pakistan (274,885), and U.S.S.R. (8,998,145). Again the figures in brackets show gross tonnage of merchant ships registered so at February 28, 1961, on Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

(4) ((1960) I.C.J. Reports 160)  

 

International Court of Justice Opinion

 

The Court's Opinion was to the effect that the Maritime Safety Committee was not properly constituted since Article 28 (a) required the Assembly to elect the eight countries, with the largest amount of registered tonnage, and this had not been done ( (1960) I.C.J. Reports 160.

Advisory Opinion of 8 June1960  

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