Council 127th session (C 127), 11 to 15 July 2022 (remote session)

World Maritime theme for 2023 - "MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on"

The Council endorsed the World Maritime Theme for 2023: "MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on". The theme reflects the organization's long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework and emphasizes its ongoing commitment to this important work. 

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Joint IMO/ILO Working Group on seafarer issues

The Council endorsed the establishment of a standing Joint International Labour Organization (ILO)/IMO Tripartite Working Group (JTWG) to identify and address seafarers' issues and the human element. The Group's terms of reference were also endorsed.

The Council further endorsed the Maritime Safety Committee's (MSC 106) instruction to the JTWG to "consider bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, taking into account information submitted by interested parties, with a view to providing recommendations for future steps, including the development of legislation, mechanisms and policies, and the launching of awareness campaigns by relevant stakeholders, aimed at reporting and addressing these matters".

The Council endorsed the Legal Committee's forwarding of draft guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases to the first meeting of the JTWG in December 2022 for further consideration and refinement. From 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, a total number of 95 new cases had been reported on the IMO/ILO Joint Database on Abandonment of Seafarers. During the first half of 2022, a further 74 cases were reported, thus alarmingly surpassing last yearʹs record of reported cases of abandonment.

The Council nominated Governments as IMO representatives to the JTWG, as follows:

  • for the task concerning the guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases: Argentina, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Philippines and United Kingdom; and

  • for the task concerning bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment: Bahamas, France, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and United States.

It was noted that all other Member States may attend the discussions of the Group as observers. 

Hybrid meeting capabilities

In-person meetings are scheduled to resume at IMO Headquarters from September 2022.

The Council generally agreed to the use of hybrid meeting capabilities to supplement in-person meetings from September for a trial period of one year, with a commitment to reviewing the system at the Council's 128th session, in November-December 2022. (Meeting schedule here.)

Reform – live streaming of IMO meetings

The Working Group discussed measures to enhance access to information and transparency, including live streaming of IMO meetings.

The Council agreed in principle, that, some meetings, or parts of meetings, could be live streamed to the public, and agreed that clear criteria and procedures should be developed for the selection of such meetings or parts of meetings to be live streamed.

The Council invited interested delegations to submit proposals for criteria and procedures for the selection of meetings or parts of meetings to be live streamed for inclusion into a common policy to the next session of the Council; and requested the Secretariat to provide further information on the criteria for the selection of meetings for live streaming to the public of other United Nations system organizations, not only from the United Nations Secretariat but also from other similarly constituted, standard-setting organizations.

The updated work plan for the Working Group envisages that the IMO Assembly in 2023 (A 33, scheduled for 27 November to 6 December 2023) would consider the report of the Council regarding proposed measures relating to access to information and transparency in relation to live streaming of IMO meetings to the public; and take action, as appropriate.

Facilitating developing countries' participation in IMO meetings

The Council re-established a correspondence group to further consider the proposed establishment of a voluntary multi-donor trust fund to facilitate the participation of developing countries, especially small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) in IMO Meetings. In particular, the correspondence group will discuss eligibility and prioritization criteria for the proposed fund.

IMO Member State Audit Scheme – schedule endorsed

Since the commencement of mandatory audits of Member States under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) in February 2016, 85 audits have been conducted, in line with the overall audit schedule.

Following the decision of the Council to endorse the use of a remote audit mechanism as an interim measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, the audit schedule was updated based on the feedback received from Member States on their preference to undergo the remote or on-site audit.

The first two audits conducted in the second half of 2021 were fully remote audits and reports from these audits are being finalized.

To date, six audits have been completed in 2022 and one is ongoing. Three of those audits were conducted in fully remote mode; two audits were conducted in a hybrid mode (remote audits followed by on-site verification), with on-site verification for one audit due; and two audits were conducted on site.

The Council endorsed the revised overall audit schedule.

The Council encouraged Member States to enhance women's participation in IMSAS.

International Maritime Prize - Professor David Joseph Attard

The Council unanimously decided to award the International Maritime Prize for 2021 to outgoing Director of the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) Professor David Joseph Attard.

The Council recognized Professor Attard's invaluable contribution, extending over many years, to the work and objectives of the Organization, in particular, and to the international maritime community as a whole.

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IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea - Mr. Bo Xu, Chief Officer of Jian Qiao 502

A search and rescue officer from China has been selected to receive the 2022 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. Mr. Bo Xu, Chief Officer of the oil tanker Jian Qiao 502, is to receive the 2022 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, in recognition of his bravery, determination and endurance when rescuing two individuals in a liferaft near Zhifu Bay in northern China, in severe weather and heavy seas.

Further, five individuals or sets of nominees will receive certificates of commendation for their acts of bravery, and six will receive letters of commendation.

Read more here.