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Assembly – 26th session: 23 November to 4 December, 2009

Outcome of 26th Assembly

December 4, 2009

IMO Assembly agrees to make audit scheme mandatory
The IMO Member State Audit Scheme, participation in which is currently voluntary, is to be made mandatory, under a plan to institutionalize the Scheme agreed by the Organization’s highest governing body, the Assembly, when it met for its 26th regular session from 23 November to 2 December 2009.
 
The Assembly also updated IMO’s Strategic Plan for the next six years and High-level Action Plan for the next two years; agreed the Organization’s budget for the 2010-2011 biennium; and adopted a wide range of technical and other resolutions, addressing issues varying from piracy through to guidelines for ships operating in polar waters.
 
IMO Member State Audit Scheme
According to the plan adopted by the Assembly through resolution A.1018(26), the IMO Member State Audit Scheme would be phased in as an institutionalized, mandatory scheme, through the introduction of appropriate requirements in the relevant mandatory IMO instruments. Amendments to these instruments would be adopted in 2013, for entry into force in January 2015. A resolution on the Framework and Procedures for the Scheme would also be adopted by the IMO Assembly in 2013, while preparatory work for the commencement of an institutionalized scheme would be carried out during 2014.
 
The Assembly urged Member States that have not yet volunteered for audits under the current, voluntary scheme to do so, so that lessons can continue to be learned from it. It also requested the Secretary-General to take action, within the Organization’s Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, to assist Member States to participate in the Scheme and with building capacity to address related needs.
 
The Assembly also adopted amendments to the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, 2007, which serves as the audit standard for the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme. The amendments update the Code, to take into account amendments to mandatory IMO instruments that have entered into force or become effective since it was last revised, in 2007.
 
High-level Action Plan
IMO’s High-level Action Plan for 2010-2011 sets out in detail the planned outputs for the biennium and links them to the six-year Strategic Plan. The new Strategic Plan supersedes the previous version, and identifies strategic directions that will enable IMO to achieve its objectives in the years ahead. High-priority areas reflected in the strategic directions and high-level actions include:
  • addressing the prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, in particular off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, and promoting capacity-building for that purpose in the affected countries;
  • strengthening consideration of the human element in the rule-making process, and making adequate preparations to support the effective implementation of the revised International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and STCW Code, due to be adopted in June 2010;
  • contributing to worldwide efforts to address the phenomena of climate change and global warming, through the introduction of appropriate measures to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships;
  • promoting and raising the profile, quality and environmental consciousness of shipping; and
  • identifying and addressing any capacity-building or other needs related to the safety or environmental aspects of ships not covered by IMO instruments (e.g. small vessels or vessels engaged solely in domestic trade).
Budget
The Assembly approved the Organization’s budget for the next biennium, agreeing to a total appropriation of £61,151,200, comprising an appropriation of £30,290,900 for 2010 and an appropriation of £30,860,300 for 2011.
 
Wide range of resolutions adopted
Altogether, 21 resolutions were adopted by the Assembly, on a wide range of topics, including those highlighted below.
 
Piracy off the coast of Somalia
The Assembly adopted a resolution on piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia, which, among other things, condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, irrespective of where such acts have occurred or may occur.
 
Building on resolution A.1002(25), adopted by the Assembly in 2005, the new resolution welcomes the decision, taken on 30 November by the United Nations Security Council (through resolution 1897 (2009)), to renew, for a period of 12 months, its previous authorizations for States and regional organizations co-operating with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and use all necessary means to fight piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast, provided advance notification was given by the TFG to the United Nations Secretary-General. (See IMO Briefing 40/2009 ).
 
The Assembly also adopted the revised Code of Practice for the Investigation of the Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, updating the Code of Practice adopted by resolution A.922(22) in 2001.
 
Guidelines for ships operating in polar waters
These new guidelines are based on the Guidelines for ships operating in Arctic ice-covered waters but have been substantially updated and extended to also cover the sea area off the Antarctic. They are intended to be applied to ships constructed on or after 1 January 2011, although Governments are invited to apply the guidelines, as far as possible, before that date.
 
2009 MODU Code
The new Code revises and updates the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units adopted in 1989 (resolution A.649(16)) and provides an international standard for mobile offshore drilling units of new construction, to facilitate the international movement and operation of these units and ensure a level of safety for them, and for personnel on board, equivalent to that required by the SOLAS Convention and the 1988 Protocol to the Load Lines Convention for conventional ships engaged on international voyages. The 2009 Code is intended to be applied to MODUs constructed on or after 1 January 2012.
 
Code on Alerts and Indicators, 2009
Intended to provide general design guidance and to promote uniformity of type, location and priority for alerts and indicators required by the SOLAS Convention (including relevant performance standards) and by the MARPOL Convention, as well as by other associated instruments and codes, this new Code updates, revises and replaces the Code on Alarms and Indicators, 1995 (resolution A.830(19)).
 
Bunkers Certificates for ships in bareboat registry
This resolution aims to provide guidance to the Part responsible for the issuance of Bunkers Certificates in respect of ships registered in a bareboat registry (i.e., when a vessel is temporarily permitted to fly the flag of another country while ownership remains in the underlying registry), by recommending, in part, that all States Parties to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001, recognize that Bunker Certificates should be issued by the flag State if it is a Party to the Convention.
 
Resolution of stowaway cases
This resolution recognizes the need to revise the Guidelines on the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases (resolution A.871(20), adopted in 1997) to align them with section 4 (on stowaways) of the Annex to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, (FAL Convention) as amended, prescribing standards and recommended practices on matters relating to stowaways (which were adopted in 2002 and which entered into force on 1 May 2003).
 
The Maritime Safety and Facilitation Committees were requested to undertake the revision, to reflect developments in measures to prevent stowaways, as well as to provide guidance and recommendations, taking into account the FAL Convention provisions on stowaways (i.e measures that may be implemented by vessels for preventing cases involving stowaways).
 
Secretary-General’s closing remarks
Speaking at the close of the Assembly, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos commended the Assembly for its work and said that IMO stood ready to face any new challenges.
 
“In the coming biennium we cannot afford to be complacent in any way or think that problems will, by themselves, find their solution. We need to plan and be ready. We need to be proactive in getting ourselves in a strong position to face any adversity that may come our way – either in the form of a major accident at sea or in the form of a security scare or in the form of a pollution incident. We should be prepared to foresee trends, developments and challenges and capable of managing any risk within our sphere of competence,” he told delegates, adding, in this regard, that the Council’s oversight and coordination of IMO’s affairs helped to move the Organization from strength to strength.
 
Focusing specifically on the forthcoming Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen (COP 15), Secretary-General Mitropoulos reiterated his view that IMO Member States should be united in their common goal to address climate change, while ensuring that “the complexities of this most international of all industries [shipping] are duly taken into account when shaping their countries’ official policies and determining their position on the issue at hand – both at Copenhagen and at the post-Copenhagen rounds of consultations at IMO and elsewhere”.
 
IMO Assembly background
The 26th session of the IMO Assembly was held at IMO Headquarters, London, from 23 November to 2 December 2009 and was attended by some 1,200 delegates from IMO Member States, as well as international and non-governmental organizations.
 
The Assembly is IMO’s governing body. All 169 Member States and three Associate Members are entitled to attend, as are the intergovernmental organizations with which agreements of co-operation have been concluded, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO. The Assembly normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Council.
 
Council
The newly elected IMO Council for 2010-2011 (see Briefing 38/2009 ) met on Thursday, 3 December, and elected Mr. Jeffrey G. Lantz (United States) as its Chairman and re-elected Mr. Dumisani Ntuli (South Africa) as its Vice-Chairman.