Legal Committee (LEG), 88th session, 19-23 April 2004
Opening address by the Secretary-General
Fair treatment of seafarers
The Legal Committee of IMO agreed to include in its work programme the development of guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers when it met for its eighty-eighth session from 19 to 23 April 2004. The Committee also continued its work on the revision of the SUA treaties and the development of a draft convention on wreck removal.
In agreeing to include a new item on its work programme on the development of guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers, the Committee also endorsed a proposal to establish a joint IMO/International Labour Organization (ILO) Working Group on this matter.
This decision followed a proposal that IMO, in co-operation with ILO, consider the development of appropriate guidelines based not only on the principles of UNCLOS but also on the fact that unwarranted detention was a violation of basic human rights.
Review of the
SUA Convention and Protocol
The Committee gave extensive consideration to the new offences contained in the draft. A majority of delegations favoured retention of offences related to discharges of substances causing damage to the environment. A majority of delegations also favoured the inclusion of transport offences, in particular to preserve the rights of bona fide seafarers and other innocent participants in commercial navigation.
The Committee recognized that, while there seemed to be general acceptance of the need to include provisions concerning boarding in the draft protocol, it was clear that the present draft still required further consideration. It was also recognized that the inclusion of boarding provisions implied a substantial inroad into the fundamental principles of freedom of navigation on the high seas and the exclusive jurisdiction of flag States over their vessels. The Committee accepted that the principle of flag State jurisdiction must be respected to the utmost extent, recognizing that the boarding by officials of a foreign-flag ship on the high seas could only take place in exceptional circumstances.
The Committee instructed
the Secretariat to convene an Intersessional Working Group from 12 to 16 July
2004 to further elaborate the draft protocol and report to the Committee at
its eighty-ninth session.
An article-by-article review of the draft WRC was carried out. The Committee approved, subject to drafting improvement, the provisions concerning objectives and general principles, scope of application, reporting of wrecks and determination of the hazard.
Interested delegations were invited to continue working intersessionally under the leadership of the delegation of the Netherlands to refine the text further.
of guidelines on claims for death, personal injury and abandonment of seafarers
The fifth session of the Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers (Joint Working Group) met in February 2004, with the sixth session of the Joint Working Group planned for early 2005.
of the HNS convention
The HNS Correspondence Group reported on work undertaken by the Group since the Committee's eighty-sixth session.
The Committee noted that the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund had nearly completed the development of an HNS Data Base, which would include a "cargo calculator" to facilitate the reporting of contributing HNS Cargo.
The Committee was
reminded that, at the time of ratification, States are obligated to provide
information to the Organization on the volume of contributory cargo which had
been received during the previous year, and this data is essential for the Organization
to use in determining when the entry into force requirements have been met.
The Secretariat was requested to monitor this information.
protect crews and passengers against crimes committed on vessels
The Committee noted
some suggested measures to prevent crimes on vessels, including establishment
of a legal scheme, adoption of a resolution or other instrument and amendments
to penal codes in order to enable them to be applied to a foreign offender.