IMO was established to adopt legislation and Governments are responsible for implementing them. When a Government accepts an IMO Convention it agrees to make it part of its own national law and to enforce it just like any other law. The problem is that some countries lack the expertise, experience and resources necessary to do this properly.
There is a demonstrated statistical evidence, when analysing the casualty rates or the port State control detentions of the ships in relation with their respective flags, that a highly significant difference exists between the performances of States with a substantial and organized maritime safety Administration, manned with experienced ship surveyors, and other ones that are not in a position to properly fulfil the different tasks and responsibilities of the flag State in relation with safety certification of ships.
IMO is concerned about this problem and in 1992 set up a special Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) to improve the performance of Governments. The FSI Sub-Committee was renamed the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) in 2013.
The III Sub-Committee works under the following terms of reference:
1 Under the direct instructions of the Maritime Safety Committee and the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III), in addressing the effective and consistent global implementation and enforcement of IMO instruments concerning maritime safety and security and the protection of the marine environment, will consider technical and operational matters related to the following subjects, including the development of any necessary amendments to relevant conventions and other mandatory and non-mandatory instruments, as well as the preparation of new mandatory and non-mandatory instruments, guidelines and recommendations, for consideration by the Committees, as appropriate:
.1 comprehensive review of the rights and obligations of States emanating from the IMO treaty instruments;
.2 assessment, monitoring and review of the current level of implementation of IMO instruments by States in their capacity as flag, port and coastal States and countries training and certifying officers and crews, with a view to identifying areas where States may have difficulties in fully implementing them;
.3 identification of the reasons for the difficulties in implementing provisions of relevant IMO instruments, taking into account any relevant information collected through, inter alia, the assessment of performance, the investigation of marine casualties and incidents and the port State control (PSC) data, while paying particular attention to the perceived difficulties faced by developing countries;
.4 consideration of proposals to assist States in implementing and complying with IMO instruments by the development of appropriate mandatory and non-mandatory instruments, guidelines and recommendations for the consideration by the Committees, as appropriate;
.5 analyses of investigations reports into marine casualties and incidents and maintaining an efficient and comprehensive knowledge-based mechanism to support the identification of trends and the IMO rule-making process;
.6 review of IMO standards on maritime safety and security and the protection of the marine environment, to maintain an updated and harmonized guidance on survey and certification related requirements; and
.7 promotion of global harmonization of PSC activities.
2 The conventions and other mandatory instruments (as may be amended from time to time) referred to above include, but are not limited to:
.1 1974 SOLAS Convention (chapters I, IX, XI-1 and appendix and other relevant chapters, as appropriate) and the 1978 and 1988 Protocols relating thereto;
.2 MARPOL, BWM and AFS Conventions and other related environmental instruments, as appropriate;
.3 International Safety Management (ISM) Code;
.4 Code for recognized organizations (RO Code);
.5 IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code); and
.6 Casualty Investigation Code, 2008.
3 The non-mandatory instruments referred to in paragraph 1, which the Sub-Committee may be called upon to review, include, but are not limited to:
.1 HSSC Guidelines;
.2 Procedures for Port State Control; and
.3 fair treatment of seafarers, non-convention ship-related matter, etc.
4 Any other relevant technical and operational issues referred to it by the Committees or other technical bodies of the Organization.
Port State Control
Another way of raising standards is through port State control. Many IMO conventions contain provisions for Governments to inspect foreign ships that visit their ports to ensure that they meet IMO standards. If they do not they can be detained until repairs are carried out.
These inspections were originally intended to be a back up to flag State implementation, but experience has shown that they can be extremely effective. The Organization adopted resolution A.682(17) on Regional co-operation in the control of ships and discharges promoting the conclusion of regional agreements. Memoranda of understanding (MoUs)/agreements have been signed covering Europe and the North Atlantic (Paris MoU); Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MoU); West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU); the Black Sea region (Black Sea MoU); the Mediterranean (Mediterranean MoU); the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MoU) and the Persian Gulf (Riyadh MoU).
IMO also has an extensive technical co-operation programme which concentrates on improving the ability of developing countries to help themselves. It concentrates on developing human resources through maritime training and similar activities.