Legal Committee (LEG), 89th session, 25-29 October 2004
statement by the Secretary-General
Amendments to suppression of unlawful acts (SUA) treaties
Conference to adopt amendments to the 1988 SUA Convention and Protocol1
will be held in October 2005, IMO's Legal Committee agreed at its 89th session
from 25 to 29 October 2004.
The main purpose of the SUA Convention is to ensure that appropriate action
is taken against persons committing unlawful acts against ships. These acts
include the seizure of ships by force: acts of violence against persons on board
ships and the placing of devices on board a ship which are likely to destroy
or damage it. The Convention obliges Contracting Governments either to extradite
or prosecute alleged offenders. Similar provisions are contained in the SUA
Protocol, relating to unlawful acts against fixed platforms located on the continental
The 2005 Conference will consider the adoption of two Protocols incorporating
substantial amendments aimed at strengthening the SUA treaties in order to provide
an appropriate response to the increasing risks posed to maritime navigation
by international terrorism.
In preparation for the October 2005 diplomatic Conference, the Legal Committee
agreed to hold a second session of its working group on the revision of the
SUA Convention and Protocol (from 31 January to 4 February 2005), followed by
a two-week Legal Committee meeting from 18 to 29 April 2005 to continue its
consideration of the draft Protocols (as well as to consider other Legal Committee
Proposed amendments to the treaties in the revised draft Protocols include a
substantial broadening of the range of offences included in Article 3 of the
SUA Convention and the introduction of provisions for boarding vessels suspected
of being involved in terrorist activities in Article 8.
Work on the revision of the SUA treaties followed the adoption in 2001 of Assembly
resolution A.924(22) which called for a review of measures and procedures to
prevent acts of terrorism which threaten the security of passengers and crews
an the safety of ships. The SUA amendments will complement the International
Ship and Port Facilities Security (ISPS) Code, which entered into force in July
2004, by providing a legal basis for the arrest, detention and extradition of
terrorists in the unfortunate event that a terrorist attack against shipping
on wreck removal
The Committee continued its consideration of the draft Wreck Removal Convention
(WRC). The WRC is intended to provide international rules on the rights and
obligations of States and shipowners with respect to wrecks and drifting or
sunken cargo which may pose a hazard to navigation and/or pose a threat to the
is intended to clarify the rights and obligations regarding the identification,
reporting, locating and removal of hazardous wrecks, in particular those found
beyond territorial waters. The proposed Convention will also cover the issue
of compensation in the event that the coastal State itself needs to take relevant
of guidelines on claims for death, personal injury and abandonment of seafarers
The Committee received a progress report on the work of the Joint IMO/ILO Ad
Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for
Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers.
urged member States and non governmental organizations to respond, without delay,
to requests for information on the implementation of resolution A.930(22) Guidelines
on provision of financial security cases of abandonment of seafarers and
to report any cases of abandonment in order to assist the Committee in furthering
its work on the subject.
to resolutions adopted by the International Conference on the Revision of the
Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by
Sea, 1974 The Committee reviewed the interim results of a study into the current
practice of bareboat charterer registration and the implications for certificate-issuing
obligations under IMO liability conventions carried out by the Comité
Maritime International (CMI) with support from the IMO Secretariat. The Committee
encouraged the CMI to continue its work.
also invited member States to contribute to further work on two issues relating
to the Athens Convention on passenger liability: firstly, the fact that the
Convention requires a higher amount of compulsory insurance and of liability
than existing IMO pollution prevention conventions; and secondly, the fact that
article 3 of the Athens Convention is not strictly confined to non-war protection
and indemnity insurance, but may also affect war risk insurance. It was generally
agreed that these issues should be addressed by the Committee, but not through
amendments to the Athens Convention.
Places of refuge
The Committee reviewed a report from the CMI on its thirty-eighth conference
in Vancouver, Canada in June 2004, which had discussed topics relevant to places
of refuge. The CMI informed the Committee that it had identified several concerns
in the present arrangements (based on IMO's Guidelines on places of refuge
for ships in need of assistance), one of which was that there was no single
international convention establishing the rights and obligations of a coastal
State when it was faced with a request to provide a place of refuge. The Committee
agreed that the issues raised in the report needed further study.
protect crews and passengers against crimes committed on vessels
The Committee considered a resolution on Criminal offences on board foreign-flagged
ships adopted by the CMI at its Vancouver conference, which recommended
that the CMI establish a Joint International Working Group to draft a model
national law concerning such offences.
took note of the information and suggested that, rather than developing a model
national law, the CMI might consider working with the Legal Committee with a
view to developing an instrument that might be developed into customary international
The Committee agreed the terms of reference for the Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc
Expert Working Group on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime
Accident and nominated eight IMO Member Governments to represent the Organization
at the Group's first meeting, scheduled for 17 to 19 January 2005 at IMO Headquarters.
IMO, in co-operation
with ILO, will consider the development of appropriate guidelines based not
only on the principles of UNCLOS2 but also on the fact that
unwarranted detention is a violation of basic human rights. IMO member Governments
and the Social Partners (employer and employee representatives) were encouraged
to submit proposals for consideration by the Group.
of the HNS Convention
The Committee was updated on the status of the implementation of the International
Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage
of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) by Sea, 1996.
The HNS Convention
is intended to add a vital component in the international compensation regime
for pollution damage at sea. At the end of September 2004, it had been ratified
by six States, representing 1.73 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.
The Committee noted that the ratification process had been held back by some
States to ensure that as many States as possible ratify at or about the same
time, thereby triggering the entry into force of the treaty.
into force, the HNS Conference requires ratification by 12 States, four of which
have not less than two million units of gross tonnage, provided that persons
in these States who would be responsible for paying contributions to the general
account have received a total quantity of at least 40 million tonnes of contributing
cargo in the preceding calendar year.
was informed that the IOPC Fund had a database for identifying and recording
contributing cargo. Governments were also reminded that article 43 of the HNS
Convention imposes a requirement on contracting Governments to report information
on contributing cargo at the time of ratification and annually basis, including
arrangement in a strait used for international navigation
Following a request from the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)
and the Sub-committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV), the Legal Committee reviewed
the legal aspects of compulsory pilotage in a strait used for international
general agreement on some of the fundamental principles of international law
as codified in UNCLOS, in particular the right of transit passage through a
strait used for international navigation. There was also agreement that IMO
is the competent international organization to adopt measures such as the one
proposed by Australia and Papua New Guinea to extend the existing Great Barrier
Reef compulsory pilotage scheme to the Torres Strait.
the Committee remained divided and was unable to resolve the issue of the legality
of adopting requirements for compulsory pilotage in straits used for international
1 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the
Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988, and its Protocol of 1988 related to Fixed
Platforms located on the Continental Shelf.
2 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.