Resolutions on audit scheme, places of refuge and ship recycling adopted at IMO Assembly

Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on the need for an audit scheme to assess their effectiveness in implementing global shipping standards, with the adoption of an Assembly resolution on the subject at the 23rd IMO Assembly, which met at the Organization's London Headquarters from 24 November-5 December 2003.

The Assembly also adopted guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance and guidelines on ship recycling.

Altogether the session saw 30 resolutions adopted by the Assembly. Other issues covered by resolutions included the Organization's work programme and budget for the biennium 2004-2005 and resolutions on technical issues relating to the Organization's work on safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The Assembly was attended by around 1,000 delegates representing 149 Member States and three Associate Members; representatives from the United Nations and specialized agencies; and observers from six intergovernmental organizations and 30 non-governmental organizations.

IMO Member State Audit Scheme
The Assembly resolution Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme approved the establishment and further development of the scheme, to be implemented on a voluntary basis. It requests the IMO Council to develop, as a matter of high priority, procedures and other modalities for the implementation of the scheme.

The proposed IMO Member State Audit Scheme will be designed to help promote maritime safety and environmental protection by assessing how effectively Member States implement and enforce relevant IMO Convention standards, and by providing them with feedback and advice on their current performance.

Places of refuge
New Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance were adopted. These guidelines are intended for use when a ship is in need of assistance but the safety of life is not involved. Where the safety of life is involved, the provisions of the SAR Convention should continue to be followed.

The guidelines recognize that, when a ship has suffered an incident, the best way of preventing damage or pollution from its progressive deterioration is to transfer its cargo and bunkers, and to repair the casualty. Such an operation is best carried out in a place of refuge. However, to bring such a ship into a place of refuge near a coast may endanger the coastal State, both economically and from the environmental point of view, and local authorities and populations may strongly object to the operation.

Therefore, granting access to a place of refuge could involve a political decision which can only be taken on a case-by-case basis. In so doing, consideration would need to be given to balancing the interests of the affected ship with those of the environment.

A second resolution, Maritime Assistance Service (MAS), recommends that all coastal States should establish a maritime assistance service (MAS). The principal purposes would be to receive the various reports, consultations and notifications required in a number of IMO instruments; monitoring a ship's situation if such a report indicates that an incident may give rise to a situation whereby the ship may be in need of assistance; serving as the point of contact if the ship's situation is not a distress situation but nevertheless requires exchanges of information between the ship and the coastal State, and for serving as the point of contact between those involved in a marine salvage operation undertaken by private facilities if the coastal State considers that it should monitor all phases of the operation.

Ship recycling
The Assembly adopted Guidelines on Ship Recycling, which have been developed to give advice to all stakeholders in the recycling process, including administrations of ship building and maritime equipment supplying countries, flag, port and recycling States, as well as intergovernmental organizations and commercial bodies such as shipowners, ship builders, repairers and recycling yards.

The guidelines note that, in the process of recycling ships, virtually nothing goes to waste. The materials and equipment are almost entirely reused. Steel is reprocessed to become, for instance, reinforcing rods for use in the construction industry or as corner castings and hinges for containers. Ships' generators are reused ashore. Batteries find their way into the local economy. Hydrocarbons on board become reclaimed oil products to be used as fuel in rolling mills or brick kilns. Light fittings find further use on land. Furthermore, new steel production from recycled steel requires only one third of the energy used for steel production from raw materials. Recycling thus makes a positive contribution to the global conservation of energy and resources and, in the process, employs a large, if predominantly unskilled, workforce. Properly handled, ship recycling is, without question, a "green" industry.

However, the guidelines recognize that, although the principle of ship recycling may be sound, the working practices and environmental standards in the yards often leave much to be desired. While ultimate responsibility for conditions in the yards has to lie with the countries in which they are situated, other stakeholders must be encouraged to contribute towards minimising potential problems in the yards.

Technical co-operation
The Assembly confirmed the importance of technical co-operation as the key element in securing a general increase in the rate of implementation by developing countries of IMO conventions and standards.

The Assembly resolution Development and improvement of partnership arrangements for technical co operation encourages the development of effective technical co operation partnership arrangements and invites Member States, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and the industry to provide financial and in-kind support for implementation of International Technical Co-operation Programme (ITCP) activities through development of effective partnership arrangements with IMO.

IMO Budget and work plan
The Assembly agreed the work programme for the forthcoming biennium and budgetary appropriations of £46,194,900 for 2004-2005. This is a 7.7 per cent increase in the appropriation for 2002-2003. The Assembly also approved the long-term work plan of the organization up to 2010, including lists of indicative subjects for consideration by each Committee.

Approval of the appointment of Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos as Secretary-General
The Assembly confirmed the appointment of Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos of Greece as the new Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, for an initial term of four years, to succeed the incumbent, Mr. William O'Neil of Canada, when he steps down from the post at the end of this year.

Mr. William O'Neil appointed Secretary-General Emeritus
The Assembly agreed unanimously to honour Mr. O'Neil by designating him as Secretary-General Emeritus from 1 January 2004.

Conferences approved
The Assembly approved the holding of the following Conferences to adopt new or amend existing regulations:

  • Conference to adopt a new International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, to be held 9-13 February 2004.
  • One Legal Conference to be held in the biennium 2004-2005 - this will adopt either revisions to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988, and its Protocol of 1988 relating to Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (SUA Convention and Protocol), or a new Wreck Removal Convention.

Assembly officers
The Assembly elected His Excellency Mr. Mel Cappe, High Commissioner for Canada as President of the Assembly.

The Vice-Presidents were:

1st Vice-President: The Honourable Mr. Symeon Matsis, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Works, Cyprus
2nd Vice-President: His Excellency Mr. Edgardo B. Espiritu, Ambassador of the Philippines to the UK

The Assembly elected the following to chair the two Committees of the Assembly:

Committee 1

Chairman: Rear Admiral Peter Brady, Head of the Maritime Authority, Jamaica
1st Vice-Chairman: Captain Frederick Ouma Wahutu, Merchant Shipping Superintend, Kenya
2nd Vice-Chairman: Captain Pawel Czerwinski, Permanent Representative to IMO, Poland

Committee 2

Chairman: Mr. Koichi Yoshida, Vice Principal Research/Co-ordinator National Maritime Research Institute, Japan
1st Vice-Chairman: Mr. Clive Davidson, Chief Executive Officer, AMSA, Australia
2nd Vice-Chairman: Captain Marcelo Gustavo Genne, Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO, Argentina

The Credentials Committee was made up of the following countries: Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, Lebanon, Tonga

Resolutions adopted
The Assembly adopted the following resolutions:

A.936(23) Appreciation of the services to the Organization of Mr. William A. O'Neil
A.937(23) Approval of the appointment of the Secretary-General
A.938(23) Relations with non-governmental organizations
A.939(23) Appointment of the External Auditor
A.940(23) Arrears of contributions
A.941(23) Presentation of accounts and audit reports
A.942(23) Work programme and budget for the twenty-third financial period 2004-2005
A.943(23) Long-term work plan of the Organization (up to 2010)
A.944(23) Strategic plan for the Organization (for the six-year period 2004 to 2010)
A.945(23) 1991 Amendments to the Convention on the International Maritime Organization (Institutionalization of the Facilitation Committee)
A.946(23) Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme
A.947(23) Human element vision, principles and goals for the Organization
A.948(23) Revised survey guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification
A.949(23) Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance
A.950(23) Maritime Assistance Services (MAS)
A.951(23) Improved guidelines for marine portable fire extinguishers
A.952(23) Graphical symbols for shipboard fire control plans
A.953(23) World-wide radionavigation system
A.954(23) Proper use of VHF channels at sea
A.955(23) Amendments to the principles of safe manning (Resolution A.890(21))
A.956(23) Amendments to the guidelines for the onboard operational use of shipborne Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) (Resolution A.917(22)
A.957(23) Amended Traffic Separation Scheme "Off Finisterre"
A.958(23) Provision of hydrographic services
A.959(23) Format and guidelines for the maintenance of the Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR)
A.960(23) Recommendations on training and certification and operational procedures for maritime pilots other than deep-sea pilots
A.961(23) Wider acceptance of the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966
A.962(23) IMO Guidelines on ship recycling
A.963(23) IMO Policies and practices related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships
A.964(23) Follow-up action to UNCED and WSSD
A.965(23) Development and improvement of partnership arrangements for technical co-operation

The 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.

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: