New era on horizon as IMO Member States set to adopt voluntary audit scheme at 24th Assembly

Preview: Assembly (24th session): 21 November to 2 December 2005

The final phase in the development of the new voluntary IMO Member State audit scheme is set to be launched when the Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meets for its 24th session at IMO's London Headquarters from 21 November to 2 December 2005.

The adoption of the Scheme will herald a new era for IMO, in which the Organization will have at its disposal a tool to achieve harmonized, standardized global implementation of IMO standards, which is key to realizing the IMO objectives of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.

The Scheme will address issues such as a Member State's conformance in enacting appropriate legislation for the IMO instruments to which it is a Party; the administration and enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations of the Member State; the delegation of authority by a Member State in terms of the implementation of convention requirements; and the control and monitoring mechanism of the Member State's survey and certification processes and of its recognized organizations.

It will help to identify where capacity-building activities would have the greatest effect and it will also enable appropriate action to be much more precisely focused. Individual Member States which volunteer to be audited will receive valuable feedback and, on a wider scale, generic lessons learnt from audits could be provided to all Member States so that the benefits may be shared. The regulatory process at IMO may also benefit from the results of this learning experience.

Alongside the audit scheme framework, the Assembly is expected to adopt a Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, which will provide the audit standard.

Piracy off Somalia
It is expected that, at the recommendation of the Secretary-General and subject to the approval of the IMO Council, a draft Assembly resolution addressing the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia will be considered for adoption by IMO Member Governments. This follows the increasing number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships which reportedly occur in waters off the coast of Somalia, which may give rise to danger to life and serious risks to navigational safety and the marine environment.

Adoption of resolutions
A number of other draft resolutions have been submitted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Legal Committee for adoption by the Assembly. The Assembly will also consider for adoption any resolutions submitted by the Council's 23rd Extraordinary Session, which immediately precedes the meeting. The topics covered by resolutions expected to be adopted by the Assembly include:

  Ship recycling - development of a new legally-binding instrument and amendments to the
IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling.
  Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident.
  Implementation of the 2002 Athens Protocol.
  Guidelines for facilitation of response to a pollution incident.
  Revised guidelines for the identification and designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs).
  Ships' Routeing - establishment of an area to be avoided in the Galapagos Archipelago.
  Ships' Routeing - Amendments to the existing mandatory ship reporting system "In the Great Belt Traffic area".
  Revision of the Guidelines for the prevention and suppression of smuggling of drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals on ships engaged in international maritime traffic.

Review of the work of the Organization
The Assembly will be updated on the work of the Organization during the biennium 2004-2005, including the adoption of new instruments, such as the 2005 Protocols to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA) against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and its related Protocol, which provide the legal basis for action to be taken against persons committing unlawful acts against the safety of navigation (and against fixed platforms located on the continental shelf), and the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments which aims to prevent the potentially devastating effects of the spread of harmful aquatic organisms carried by ships' ballast water.

The biennium also saw the adoption of revised Annexes I (oil), II (noxious liquid substances) and IV (sewage) of the MARPOL Convention.

Amendments to SOLAS adopted in the biennium included a revised SOLAS chapter XII (Additional safety measures for bulk carriers), and a revised chapter II-1 (Construction - Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations).

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has, in the last biennium, been developing goal-based standards. This work, if successfully completed, could bring about a paradigm shift for the better in the overarching philosophy that governs the way standards are derived. The Assembly will be appraised of the basic principles and goals for goal-based standards for new ship construction that have been agreed in principle by the MSC.

Technical Co-operation
The significance of IMO's technical co-operation work will be highlighted at the Assembly. There has been an increase in the delivery of Technical Co-operation activities over the past biennium amounting to an overall expenditure of some US$14 million in 2004. There have, for example, been notable achievements in the delivery of the technical co-operation programme on maritime security. The Organization continues to enjoy considerable success in the partnerships it establishes with governments and regional organizations for technical co-operation, while the IMO regional presence scheme has been strengthened and continuing efforts have been made to promote partnerships.

IMO Assembly
IMO's Assembly normally meets every two years. All 166 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 which have consultative status with IMO.

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 (