The 27th Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will meet in London at IMO Headquarters from 21 to 30 November 2011.
All 170 Member States and three Associate Members are entitled to attend the Assembly, which is IMO’s highest governing body. The intergovernmental organizations with which agreements of co-operation have been concluded and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO are also invited to attend.
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 Organization’s 40-Member Council.
The Assembly is preceded by the twenty-sixth extraordinary session of the Council, on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th November.
Review of the work of the Organization
The Assembly will review the work carried out by the Organization during the biennium 2010 2011, through the Council, the five IMO Committees and the Secretariat.
Highlights include the adoption, in May 2010, of the Manila amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code – the pinnacle of a year dedicated to the seafarer under the World Maritime Day 2010 theme of “2010: Year of the Seafarer”; the adoption, in April 2010, of the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (HNS Convention); and the breakthrough adoption, in July 2011, of amendments to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), Annex VI Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, to add a new chapter on Regulations on energy efficiency for ships, representing the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.
The biennium saw the entry into force, on 28 July 2010, of the 2005 Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, respectively.
A comprehensive package of amendments to the international regulations affecting new passenger ships also entered into force.
Goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers were adopted; as were new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching. Development of a mandatory Polar Code, for ships operating in ice-covered waters, was commenced, and a Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes was approved.
A draft agreement on implementation of the 1993 Protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, one of the principal instruments on fishing vessel safety adopted by IMO but which has yet to enter into force, was approved, for submission to a diplomatic conference in 2012.
In a strong biennium for IMO’s technical co-operation activities, an achievement worthy of particular mention was the completion, in March 2011, of a major project to establish search and rescue cover around the coastline of the continent of Africa.
Also high on the agenda during the biennium has been piracy, the escalation of which, in recent years, has been a matter of great concern and has prompted IMO to make combating it a central theme of its work in 2011.“Piracy: orchestrating the response” was chosen as the theme for World Maritime Day 2011, emphasising the crucial role of IMO and other entities - including the United Nations, Governments acting collectively or individually, political and defence alliances, shipping companies, ship operators, ships’ crews - in tackling this criminal activity and maintaining the integrity of strategically important shipping lanes.
Strategic plan and budget
The Organization’s updated strategic and high-level action plans and the related results-based budget for 2012-2013 will be presented to the Assembly for adoption.
Appointment of the Secretary-General
The Assembly will be invited to endorse the decision of the IMO Council in June to elect Mr. Koji Sekimizu (Japan) as IMO Secretary-General, to start his four-year term on 1 January 2012. The current Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos (Greece) ends his term on 31 December 2011.
Adoption of resolutions
A number of draft resolutions have been submitted by the various IMO Committees for adoption by the Assembly, which will also consider, for adoption, any resolutions submitted by the Council’s 26th Extraordinary Session. The topics covered by such resolutions include:
• piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia;
• further development of the IMO Member State Audit Scheme;
• the revised and updated Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, 2011, to include the requirements deriving from amendments to relevant IMO mandatory instruments that will enter into force up to and including 1 July 2012;
• the revised Recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships;
• the International Code on Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code);
• the Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 2011 (2011 TDC Code), revising and updating the original code adopted in 1973;
• the revised Procedures for Port State Control;
• the Periodic Review of Administrative Requirements in Mandatory IMO Instruments;
• technical co-operation;
• the issue of certificates relating to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001, to ships that are also required to hold a certificate in relation to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992, as amended;
• the Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident;
• the issue of wreck removal certificates to bareboat-registered vessels under the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007;
• the revised Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification;
• amendments to the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966, to shift the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa further southward by 50 miles;
• pilot transfer arrangements;
• the World-wide Radio Navigation System;
• principles of minimum safe manning; and
• the IMO/World Metereological Organization (WMO) Worldwide Met-Ocean Information and Warning Service.
2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
On the evening of the opening day of the Assembly, on Monday 21 November, the 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be presented to Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, Master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry. Captain Seog was nominated by the Government of the Republic of Korea for his heroic actions to keep his vessel and crew safe, while suffering vicious assaults, following a hijack by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Certificates of Commendation will also be presented to a number of other nominees and special certificates will be presented to the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres of Falmouth (United Kingdom) and Stavanger (Norway).