IMO Assembly meets for 23rd session

Places of refuge, guidelines on ship recycling and the development of a model audit scheme are among the important technical issues on the agenda for the 23rd Assembly of the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency concerned with maritime safety and security and the prevention of marine pollution from ships.

The Assembly, which meets at IMO's London Headquarters from 24 November to 5 December 2003, will also officially appoint a new Secretary-General, elect a new Council and adopt the work programme and budget for the next biennium (2004-2005).

IMO's Assembly normally meets once every two years. All 163 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.

The Assembly will be preceded on Friday, 21 November by the 22nd extraordinary session of the IMO Council.

The main tasks of the Assembly will be as follows:

1     Approve the appointment of the Secretary-General

The Assembly will be invited to approve the appointment of Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos (Greece) as the new IMO Secretary-General, as decided by the Council at its 90th session in June this year.

2    Elect the new IMO Council

The Council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization. It is comprised of 40 Member States, elected by the Assembly in three categories:

Category A: 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services. (Currently China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.)
Category B: 10 other States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade. (Currently Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden.)
Category C: 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world. (Currently Australia, Bahamas, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Ghana, Honduras, Kenya, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela.)

Between sessions of the Assembly the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention or other matters concerning the effect of shipping on the marine environment assigned to the Organization under international instruments.

   Approve the work programme and budget
The Assembly will consider with a view to approval the proposed budget for 2004-2005 and the related work programme for the Organization.

The IMO budget for 2001-2003 was £39,531,100.

4   Adopt draft resolutions prepared by subordinate bodies

A number of 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 22nd Extraordinary Session.

Draft resolutions submitted to the Assembly include those addressing the following subjects:

  • Long-term work plan of the Organization (up to 2010)
  • IMO Model Audit Scheme
  • Technical Co-operation
  • Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance
  • Maritime assistance services (MAS)
  • Human element vision, principles and goals for the Organization
  • Amendments to the principles of safe manning
  • Recommendations on training and certification and operational procedures for maritime pilots other than deep-sea pilots
  • Worldwide radionavigation system
  • Improved guidelines for marine portable fire extinguishers
  • Proper use of VHF channels at sea
  • Graphical symbols for shipboard fire control plans
  • Provision of hydrographic services
  • Wider acceptance of the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966
  • Revised survey guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification
  • Guidelines on ship recycling
  • Follow-up action to UNCED and WSSD
  • IMO policies and practices related to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 50th session
The meetings of the Assembly will be suspended for the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) to hold its 50th session, on Monday, 1 and Thursday, 4 December.

The agenda for the MEPC includes the consideration of draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78).

The draft amendments include a proposed accelerated phase-out scheme for single- hull tankers, along with other measures including an extended application of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) for tankers and a proposal for a regulation banning the carriage of Heavy Grades of Oil (HGO) in single-hull tankers.


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

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For further information please contact:

Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 ( or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 ( ).