Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI), 19th session

Opening address

(21 to 25 February 2011)

Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers – and welcome to the nineteenth session of the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation.  I extend a particular warm welcome to those of you who are attending this Sub-Committee for the first time.
As it has become customary for some time now, before I address the most important items on the agenda of a sitting IMO body, I say a few words about the theme for World Maritime Day, which the Council chooses for each particular year.  This year’s theme is "Piracy: orchestrating the response" and aims at complementing and coming as a sequel to last year’s theme, which was dedicated to seafarers. 
It is in the context of IMO’s overall concern about safeguarding human life at sea that we have set, as the overall aim of the theme chosen for this year, the redoubling of our efforts to meet the challenges of modern-day piracy and, in so doing, generate a broader, global response to eradicate it.  To give substance to the campaign and make a difference, we will, in the course of 2011, seek to:
• one: increase pressure at the political level to secure the release of all hostages being held by pirates;
• two: review and improve the IMO guidelines to Administrations and seafarers and promote compliance with industry best management practices and the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures ships should follow;
• three: promote greater levels of support from, and coordination with, navies;
• four: promote anti-piracy coordination and co-operation procedures between and among States, regions, organizations and industry;
• five: assist States to build capacity in piracy-infested regions of the world, and elsewhere, to deter, interdict and bring to justice those who commit acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships; and
• six:  provide care, during the post-traumatic period, for those attacked or hijacked by pirates and for their families.
To add emphasis to this year’s anti-piracy campaign, the action plan we have compiled, in co-operation with industry and seafarer representative organizations, was launched by the UN Secretary-General, who, together with the Executive Heads of the World Food Programme and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, came to IMO earlier this month for this purpose.  It is my sincere hope, and strong wish, that the action plan will generate the widest possible interest and that it will inspire and galvanize Governments, international organizations and industry stakeholders to act in the most appropriate and effective manner to eradicate the now all too frequent incidence of armed kidnap and ransom that characterize piracy these days, in particular off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.  I hope you will also support the campaign and assist in the delivery of its components as best as you can.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with those seafarers, who, at present, are in the hands of pirates.  May they all be released unharmed and returned to their families soon.
Distinguished delegates,
Since your last session, seven months ago, the Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Protection Committees have each met once and, under agenda item 2, you will be informed of decisions they took relevant to your work, along with decisions of other IMO bodies.
Of the many important items on your agenda this week, I would single out your work relevant to the institutionalization of the IMO Member State Audit Scheme. Under agenda item 13, you are expected to progress the development of draft amendments to the nine mandatory instruments that are required to meet the 2015 deadline established by the Assembly, by which the Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments and auditing should become mandatory.  I am confident that you will be able, at this session, to advance the development of those amendments, which are currently covered by the Code, so that, in due course, they form an integral part of the respective Conventions.  You will recall that the two Committees have directed that the amendments should, where possible, be brought into force under the tacit acceptance procedure. The work conducted by the ad hoc correspondence group you established at your last session should enable you to revise the Implementation Code in a manner that would support the mandatory audit regime we are aiming at. Irrespective of our work on the development of the Scheme in its new form, it is of great importance that Member States continue to volunteer for audit so that any lessons learnt and any benefits accrued from each audit can be incorporated into the institutionalization process. I, therefore, urge all Member States, which have not already done so, to volunteer for audit at their earliest convenience.
Another important task for you, at this session, is the development of a Code for recognized organizations. In its context, you are invited to consider the report of the relevant ad hoc correspondence group, on the basis of which you should seek to make progress in developing the Code as a useful tool for Administrations to better understand and meet their responsibilities when delegating power to recognized organizations. This time you are expected to identify areas within existing IMO instruments where additional information, provided by the draft code, would improve standards of implementation – at the same time, developing any additional requirements that you may consider necessary to include in the draft Code. While going about this task, you should also consider the broader policy issue of how the Code would supplement existing IMO instruments.
The finalization, from your Sub-Committee’s perspective, of several draft Assembly resolutions so that they may be forwarded to MSC and MEPC for approval, and subsequent submission to the Assembly for adoption at its forthcoming session in November, is another subject that requires meticulous attention. I am referring, in particular to, the draft Assembly resolutions on Revised Procedures for port State control; the Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification; and the Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments.
Distinguished delegates,
Moving on to the Mandatory reports under MARPOL item, I have noted that, in 2009, the rate of reporting by Parties to the Convention had improved over previous years – and this should be welcomed. However, while this positive development is salutary, the fact remains that compliance with this mandatory requirement is still low as only 39 out of the current 150 Parties to the Convention actually reported during last year. I would, therefore, once again, urge all Parties to comply with that specific MARPOL requirement.  By so doing, they will assist the Organization and all concerned to understand better the nature and extent of any contraventions.  In turn, and most importantly, a deeper understanding of any compliance difficulties will assist in the formulation of improved standards and in a more effective implementation of MARPOL, to the benefit of the overall objectives the Convention seeks to achieve.
The Sub-Committee’s analysis of marine casualties and incidents is of vital importance if we are to learn from the causes and circumstances that have led to reported accidents and avoid their recurrence in future. Once we have duly and diligently analysed the root cause of any accidents brought to our attention, we must then promulgate any lessons learned within their context and thus facilitate the development of any necessary relevant standards to the benefit of enhanced safety and environment protection.  The fostering of co-operation among flag States and other substantially interested States in both the collection and analysis of casualty data is of paramount importance and the entry into force of the Casualty Investigation Code under amendments to the SOLAS Convention last year will go a long way towards achieving our common objectives in this particular area.
Distinguished delegates,
The harmonization of port State control activities has been an objective vigorously pursued by your Sub-Committee for a long time.  In moving this matter forward, progress has undoubtedly been achieved and, while this is commendable from the perspective of the Sub-Committee’s endeavours, we should also give port State control regimes due credit for the role they have played in this.  However, as is so often the case, more needs to be done and, in this context, in addition to your work on the draft Revised Procedures for port State control, you should pursue the completion of the guidance to port State Control officers relative to the inspection of LRIT equipment and pilot ladders.  The Fifth IMO Workshop for secretaries and database managers of the regional port State control agreements is scheduled to take place here at IMO Headquarters in June and any proposals you may wish to make to optimize our preparations for the meeting will be very helpful.
Distinguished delegates,
Other items on your agenda that are equally important to those I have already mentioned include:

• the development of guidelines on port State control under the Ballast Water Management Convention; and
• the review of the draft revised text on Guidelines for inspection of anti-fouling systems on ships.
In considering these and all the items on your agenda, you should keep uppermost in your mind the role of the human element, as emphasized by the MSC and MEPC and specifically called for in their Guidelines on the organization and methods of work. 
As you go about your business this week, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the considerable progress made on several of your agenda items by the various correspondence groups you established at your last session. All the members of these groups, especially their coordinators, deserve our thanks for, and recognition of, their important input.
Before I conclude, I will say, as I always do, a few words about security during meetings – on which your continued co operation at any given instance would be much appreciated.  These are not easy times and we should not, for lack of vigilance and alertness or the demonstration of any complacent attitude, make it easier for those who contemplate acts of violence to succeed.
Distinguished delegates,
Having highlighted some of the most important items on your agenda, I am left in no doubt that this session will, once again, demand a lot of hard work from all of you as you are expected to finalize several items on your agenda while achieving progress on others.  I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, guided by the constant commitment of all of us to this Organization’s twin causes of enhanced maritime safety and environmental protection and inspired by the customary IMO spirit of co-operation. This, in turn, will ensure that you make sound, balanced and timely decisions on which to base your advice to the parent Committees. I am confident that you will pursue your objectives vigorously and successfully, under the leadership of your Chairman, Captain Dwain Hutchinson of The Bahamas. As always, the Secretariat will give you all the support required. I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.
Thank you.