A wide range of resolutions, reflecting the broad canvas of the Organization’s work, was adopted by the 27th Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it met in London at the Organization’s Headquarters from 21 to 30 November 2011. They included a resolution urging Governments to continue their efforts to combat piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and a resolution firmly establishing 25 June each year as the “Day of the Seafarer”.
The Assembly also adopted the high-level action and strategic plans for the Organization; the Organization’s budget for 2012 to 2013; and several updated codes and guidance documents.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The resolution on piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, irrespective of where such acts have occurred or may occur; and expresses deep sympathy for the loss of seafarers, while in captivity, for their plight while held hostage in appalling conditions, often for long periods of time, and for their families.
Expanding on a similar resolution adopted by the previous IMO Assembly, the resolution notes the extensive efforts undertaken by IMO and others to address piracy, in particular during 2011, when the theme for World Maritime Day of "Piracy – Orchestrating the response" has underscored much of the Organization’s work. It appeals to all parties that may be able to assist to take action, within the provisions of international law, to ensure that all acts or attempted acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships are terminated forthwith and that any plans for committing such acts are also forthwith abandoned; and that any hijacked ships, seafarers serving on them and any other persons on board such ships are immediately and unconditionally released and that no harm is caused to them.
Among other things, the resolution strongly urges Governments that have not already done so to do everything in their power, promptly, to ensure that ships entitled to fly their flag comply with the preventive, evasive and defensive measures detailed in the best management practice guidance already promulgated through IMO.
It also urges Governments, taking into account the interim recommendations and guidance developed by the Organization, to decide, as a matter of national policy, whether ships entitled to fly their flag should be authorized to carry privately contracted armed security personnel and, if so, under what conditions. In addition, port and coastal States are strongly urged to promulgate their national policies on the embarkation, disembarkation and carriage of privately contracted armed security personnel and of firearms, ammunition and security-related equipment to be used by such personnel on board ships; and to make those policies and procedures known to the shipping industry, to the providers of privately contracted armed security personnel, and to all Member Governments.
The resolution also strongly urges Governments to encourage owners and operators of ships entitled to fly their flag to consider fully the provision of post-traumatic care for seafarers attacked or held hostage by pirates, and for their families and, in so doing, take into account recommendations and good practice guidance produced by the Organization, the shipping industry and welfare organizations; and to establish, as necessary and when requested, plans and procedures to keep substantially interested States informed, as appropriate, about the welfare of seafarers in captivity on ships entitled to fly their flag, measures being taken for the early release of such seafarers and the status of payment of their wages.
Strategic and High-level Action Plans
IMO’s High-level Action Plan for 2012-2013 sets out in detail the planned outputs for the biennium and links them to the six-year Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan identifies strategic directions and specific actions aimed at addressing current trends, developments and challenges, including:
• piracy and armed robbery against ships;
• the impact of global shipping activities on the environment, including the need to contribute to international efforts to reduce atmospheric pollution and address climate change;
• the need to eliminate sub-standard shipping;
• the implementation of security measures while ensuring that the flow of seaborne trade continues to be smooth and efficient;
• identifying shipping activities and incidents that could have an adverse impact on the environment and developing corresponding preventive measures;
• the need to place increased emphasis on the contribution of the human element to safer, more secure and environmentally friendly shipping;
• the continuing challenge of safety of life at sea;
• the implementation of effective measures to address the issues of migrants transported by sea, stowaways and the humanitarian aspects of piracy and armed robbery against ships;
• ensuring an equitable and sustainable means of funding for the integrated technical co-operation programme and to improve its delivery, efficiency and effectiveness; and
• ensuring that technological developments adopted are conducive, as applicable, to enhancing maritime safety, security, protection of the environment and facilitation of international maritime traffic, and take into account the need for their global application.
The Assembly adopted the Organization’s budget for the next biennium, agreeing to a total appropriation of £62,206,200, comprising an appropriation of £30,520,200 for 2012 and an appropriation of £31,686,000 for 2013.
Appointment of the Secretary-General
The Assembly endorsed the decision of the IMO Council in June to elect Mr. Koji Sekimizu (Japan) as IMO Secretary-General, to start a four-year term on 1 January 2012. The outgoing Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos (Greece) ends his second four-year term on 31 December 2011.
The Assembly also adopted a resolution expressing deep appreciation for the work of Mr. Mitropoulos as Secretary-General and designating him Secretary-General Emeritus of IMO, with effect from 1 January 2012.
Day of the Seafarer
The Assembly adopted a resolution on the Day of the Seafarer, establishing 25 June of each year as the "Day of the Seafarer", recognizing the invaluable contribution seafarers make to international trade and the world economy, often at great personal cost to themselves and their families. The resolution invites Governments, shipping organizations, companies, shipowners and all other parties concerned to promote and celebrate the Day in an appropriate and meaningful manner.
The Day of the Seafarer was first celebrated in 2011, following its establishment by a resolution adopted by the Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010, which adopted major revisions to the STCW Convention and Code.
The Day of the Seafarer has now been included in the annual list of United Nations Observances.
Reducing administrative burdens
The Assembly also adopted a resolution on Periodic Review of Administrative Requirements in Mandatory IMO Instruments, which requests the Council to establish an Ad Hoc Steering Group for Reducing Administrative Requirements, with the aim of releasing resources from administrative tasks for Administrations and industry alike, thus contributing to the Organization's goals of efficient regulation of safety and security of shipping and the prevention and control of pollution by ships.
Altogether, 27 resolutions were adopted by the Assembly:
- A.1033(27) Day of the Seafarer
- A.1034(27) Appreciation of the services to the Organization of Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos
- A.1035(27) Approval of the appointment of the Secretary-General
- A.1036(27) Appointment of the external auditor
- A.1037(27) Strategic Plan for the Organization (for the six-year period 2012 to 2017)
- A.1038(27) High-level action plan of the Organization and priorities for the 2012-2013 biennium
- A.1039(27) Results-based budget for the 2012-2013 biennium
- A.1040(27) Presentation of accounts and audit reports
- A.1041(27) Arrears of contributions
- A.1042(27) Revision of the Organization’s financial regulations (effective 1 January 2012)
- A.1043(27) Periodic review of administrative requirements in mandatory IMO instruments
- A.1044(27) Piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia
- A.1045(27) Pilot transfer arrangements
- A.1046(27) World-Wide Radionavigation System
- A.1047(27) Principles of minimum safe manning
- A.1048(27) Code of Safe Practice for Ships carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 2011 (2011 TDC Code)
- A.1049(27) International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code)
- A.1050(27) Revised recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships
- A.1051(27) IMO/WMO Worldwide met-ocean information and warning service guidance document
- A.1052(27) Procedures for port State control, 2011
- A.1053(27) Survey guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC), 2011
- A.1054(27) Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, 2011
- A.1055(27) Issue of Bunkers Certificates to ships that are also required to hold a CLC Certificate
- A.1056(27) Promotion as widely as possible of the application of the 2006 Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident
- A.1057(27) Issue of Wreck Removal Certificates to bareboat registered vessels
- A.1058(27) Collation and preservation of evidence following an allegation of a serious crime having taken place on board a ship or following a report of a missing person from a ship, and pastoral and medical care of victims
- A.1059(27) Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations
IMO Assembly background
The 27th session of the IMO Assembly was held at IMO Headquarters, London, from 21 to 30 November 2011 and was attended by some 1,200 delegates from IMO Member States, as well as observers from international organizations.
The Assembly is IMO’s highest governing body. All 170 Member States and three Associate Members are entitled to participate, as are 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.