The IMO Council, meeting for its 109th session in London has endorsed, in principle, a restructuring of IMO's Sub-Committees, in order to better address the technical and operational issues covered by IMO regulations, as part of a review and reform process initiated by Secretary-General Mr. Koji Sekimizu aimed at ensuring the Organization meets current challenges as a forward-looking, efficient and cost-conscious Organization.
IMO’s main technical Committees, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) were invited to consider the proposals, which could see the number of Sub-Committees reduced from nine to seven, potentially saving four meeting weeks per biennium.
Under the proposals:
• The Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) would be renamed the Sub-Committee on the Environment, and would be tasked with dealing exclusively with environment-related matters, to allow the MEPC to delegate preliminary technical/scientific discussions to a sub-committee;
• The Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC) would be renamed as the Sub-Committee on Cargoes (to include both wet and dry cargoes), in order to address all cargo issues in one sub-committee;
• The Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications, Search and Rescue (COMSAR) and the Sub-Committee on Navigation (NAV) would be amalgamated, into a combined single sub-committee, reflecting the fact that there is increasing commonality in much of the work of COMSAR and NAV, relating to the operation of IT-based equipment, its use and its integration, including e-navigation. There would need to be further discussion on how search and rescue issues would be dealt with, and the Council requested further information on how this would impact on the work of the Joint IMO/International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Working Group on SAR which, among other things, reviews and develops draft amendments to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual;
• The Ship Design and Equipment, Fire Protection, and Stability, Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety Sub-Committees would be amalgamated into two new technical sub-committees: One Sub-Committee to address ship design, stability and related codes, whilst the other Sub-Committee would address equipment issues related to fire safety and life-saving; and
• The Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) would be renamed the Sub-Committee on Implementation, to reflect the fact that its work has been increasingly addressing issues related to the implementation of IMO instruments – not only for flag States but also for port and coastal States.
For the time being, the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping Is unaffected by the proposals.
The last review of the sub-committee structure was in the 1996-1997 biennium when the number of Sub-Committees was reduced from 11 to 9 (BLG, COMSAR, DE, DSC, FP, FSI, NAV, SLF and STW).
First “PaperSmart” IMO meeting a success
The Council meeting was the first “PaperSmart” meeting for the Organization, and was considered a success by delegates.
Delegates were invited to make the meeting "paperless" (PaperSmart), to reduce costs and make IMO meetings "environment friendly". Delegates were asked to come to the meeting with their own laptops, tablet computers, etc., together with their own Internet cables to connect to wired access points in the main meeting room. An enhanced wireless facility (Wifi) was provided for improved wireless access to the IMO documents site (IMODOCS) and to the Internet.
Parallel events in Peru and Morocco in 2013 and 2014
The Council decided to accept the offers made by the Governments of Peru and Morocco to host the IMO World Maritime Day parallel events in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and expressed its deep appreciation to both Governments for their offers.
The Council also noted, with pleasure, that the eighth World Maritime Day parallel event had been successfully organized, jointly by the Government of Bahrain and IMO, in Manama, on 17 and 18 October 2012. The Council expressed its appreciation to the Government of Bahrain (in particular the Ministry of Transport) for hosting a successful event.
IMO Member State Audit Scheme
The Council noted the progress being made towards making the IMO audit scheme mandatory, through the development of the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the standard for the IMO audit scheme, and draft amendments to a number of treaties to make the III Code and auditing mandatory.
With regards to the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme, 68 Member States and two Associate Members have formally indicated their readiness to be audited. This represents about 40% of the membership of the Organization. Since the actual commencement of audits, in September 2006, 50 Member States, two Associate Members and five dependent territories have been audited with one more audit scheduled for this year. Of the remaining Member States still to be audited of the 68 that have so far volunteered, four have now committed to be audited in 2013, with the possibility of eight more to be confirmed at a later date.
The Council encouraged Member States that had not yet volunteered to be audited, to do so as early as possible. Member States were also encouraged to nominate more individuals for inclusion in the roster of auditors. To date, 214 individuals have been nominated for inclusion, from 63 Member States and one Associate Member, from all geographical regions of the world.
The Council discussed the issue of confidentiality in the context of a mandatory audit scheme; and decided that the release of the executive summary report and the Member State's comments on the implementation of its corrective action plan to the public or Member States will be subject to the authorization of the Member State concerned prior to the audit. The Council also agreed to keep this aspect of the mandatory scheme under review.