Agencies adopt co-ordinated approach to ship scrapping as Joint Working Group makes progress

A Joint Working Group on ship scrapping established by IMO, the International Labour Organization and the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal concluded its first meeting at IMO headquarters in London yesterday.

The overall task set by the three Organizations for the Group was to act as a platform for consultation, co-ordination and co-operation in relation to their work programmes and activities with regard to issues related to ship scrapping. The Group aimed to promote a co ordinated approach to the relevant aspects of ship scrapping with the aim of avoiding duplication of work and overlapping of roles, responsibilities and competencies between the three Organizations, and identifying further needs.

During the meeting, the Group considered the respective work programmes of the pertinent bodies of ILO, IMO and the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the issue of ship scrapping and developed a list of the main items that are being considered by the three Organizations concurrently. This includes the possible development of mandatory requirements, a reporting system for ships destined for recycling, the development of a "single list" of potentially hazardous materials on board, the issue of the abandonment of ships on land or in port, the promotion of the implementation of the Guidelines on ship scrapping and technical co-operation. For each item identified, a list of work programme activities being carried out or planned by each of the Organizations was developed, and a number of recommendations were proposed to be taken into account by the three Organizations, as appropriate, during their future deliberations on these work items.

Specifically, the Group agreed that the three Organisations should ensure that the issue of "abandonment of ships on land or in ports" would be adequately covered by an international legally binding instrument, as deemed appropriate.

With a view to identifying any possible gaps, overlaps, or ambiguities, the Group began a comprehensive initial examination of the relevant IMO, ILO and BC guidelines on ship scrapping based on a comparison of the issues presented in each of the guidelines in the form of a matrix, and a draft overview paper outlining the purpose of each of the guidelines, their respective field of application and main contents. However, it was recognized that this was a large undertaking that was unlikely to be completed at this initial meeting. The Group agreed that intersessional work and further work at the second session would be needed.

The implementation of the guidelines was seen as being of paramount importance for the minimization of the environmental, occupational health and safety hazards related to ship recycling and the improvement of the protection of human health and the environment at ship recycling facilities.

The Group agreed that each Organization should consider the translation of its guidelines into the working languages of the main ship scrapping States, and that each should also ensure that a user-friendly web page is established, providing information on ship scrapping matters and a link to the other two Organizations' relevant web-pages and guidelines. It also agreed to invite the ship scrapping States to make point-of-contact details for the competent authorities responsible for issues related to ship scrapping publicly available, and to invite Governments and all involved stakeholders to provide information to the three Organizations on any experience gained in the implementation of the guidelines.

The implementation of the guidelines should be also promoted, it was agreed, through joint technical co-operation activities and the Group agreed to invite Governments and other stakeholders to provide information to the three Organizations on any technical co-operation activities or other relevant initiatives already launched or planned so that these activities could be taken into account in the future technical co-operation programmes of the Organizations. Each Organization should be asked to invite the other two to participate in any workshops or seminars they organize, and that a section providing information on the guidelines of the other two Organizations be included in the programme of any such activities. It was agreed that the three Organizations should be asked to consider a global technical co-operation programme on ship scrapping.

In considering the issue of the establishment of a ship recycling fund, the Group was of the opinion that all efforts should be focused on the further consideration by IMO of the proposal which had been agreed in principle by MEPC 52 for the establishment of an International Ship Recycling Fund to promote the safe and environmentally-sound management of ship recycling through IMO's technical co-operation activities.

During the meeting, a general discussion took place on issues such as the possible roles of flag States, port States, recycling States and other concerned states in the context of ship scrapping, as well as on possible reporting systems for ships destined for scrapping, but it was agreed that more substantive discussions would require the prior submission of documents and written proposals for consideration by the Joint Working Group.

The Group also agreed that any regulatory measures proposed should aim at the development of a realistic, well-balanced and effective solution to the problems of ship recycling and which at the same time should take into account the need for sustainable ship breaking, and that it should be recommended that ship scrapping countries submit to the three Organizations, as appropriate, any available information on their ship scrapping activities.

Additional information
Mr. Jens Henning Koefoed of Norway was elected as Chairman of the first Joint Working Group.

The full report of the first session of the Joint ILO/IMO/BC Working Group will be submitted to the 53rd session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, to the 4th session of the Open-ended Working Group and to the 292nd session of the ILO Governing Body.

The second session of the Joint Working Group will be hosted by the Basel Convention in Geneva, Switzerland, either in December 2005 or January 2006.

Among the items to be discussed will be: overall objectives and priority-setting for the Joint Working Group with regard to ship scrapping; concepts such as environmentally sound management and prior informed consent; practical approaches that promote occupational health and safety and environmentally sound management of ship scrapping; possible roles of concerned States, such as flag States, port States and recycling States in the context of occupational health and safety and the environmentally sound management of ship scrapping; requirements of a reporting system for ships destined for scrapping; basic principles of an applicable control mechanism; pre-cleaning and preparation of ships and its role in sustainable ship scrapping operations; the abandonment of ships on land or in ports and the potential benefits of a mandatory ship recycling plan.


ILO - the International Labour Organization - is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized labour standards.
Web site:

IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Web site:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989. The Secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (

The text of this press briefing has been agreed by all three Organizations and is being issued jointly.

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 ( or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (