Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III), 1st session, 14-18 July 2014 (opening address)

This text is an ad verbatim transcript.

1st session
(14 to 18 July 2014)

Good morning distinguished delegates, 

welcome to the first session of the newly established Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments. I would like to express my welcome message particularly to those who are attending this meeting for the first time. The III Sub-Committee scope was expanded and now the Sub-Committee will include not only flag State implementation but also port State and coastal State activities for implementation of IMO instruments. 

This year's theme for IMO's World Maritime Day is "IMO conventions: effective implementation" and, in my view, it is a significant development that a new Sub-Committee with this new responsibility was established in this year. 

I took the initiative for restructuring all sub-committees two years ago and the revised structure was agreed upon and a new system was created. I hope the benefits of restructuring will be fully recognized and I hope that this Sub-Committee can explore the new sub-committees' arrangement in dealing with current and future challenges.

At the opening of this Sub-Committee, I would like to share with you some of my expectations.

The III Sub-Committee is the IMO forum for cooperation and shared responsibilities of States for the implementation of IMO instruments. In the new setting, in my view, flag State implementation remains a central issue. Promulgation of IMO rules is under the responsibility of flag States; survey and certification with recognized organizations; and casualty investigation is an important function of flag States, under UNCLOS and IMO conventions.

Secondly, port State control continues to be an important field of the work of the III Sub-Committee towards harmonization. The Sub-Committee should monitor, exchange views and improve IMO's system of port State control and the Sub-Committee should continue to handle this very important field of activities. Port State control is really coming from the sovereign right of port States, and also the provisions of UNCLOS, but IMO measures and agreements aim at a global system where ships meeting IMO measures could enjoy port visits for trade without the need to comply with specific port State regulations. Obviously, excessive port State control may affect sustainable shipping.

Thirdly, the coastal State responsibility could be an important field for the Sub-Committee for example, Aids to Navigation, the lighthouse services, VTS, Electronic Navigational Charts, Maritime Safety Information, including weather forecasts, navigational warnings and maritime security information. They are all under the responsibility of the coastal State and I hope that this Sub-Committee will discuss anything relating to implementation in the coming years.

The flag States, port States and coastal States should support and strengthen IMO's global system of implementation and in my view, "shared responsibility" are the key words for this Sub-Committee.

The Committees' guidelines and work programme management at the MSC and the MEPC are fundamental in dealing with management of workload and scope of activities and, through the established mechanism, I hope this Sub-Committee will offer an opportunity for an exchange of views and cooperation for anything regarding implementation of IMO instruments and strengthen our system of global implementation of IMO conventions. This Sub-Committee should not be a forum of criticism, it should be a forum to share experience, should be a forum to share responsibilities and should be a forum to strengthen and improve IMO's mechanism of implementation.

This Sub-Committee should be the Sub-Committee of cooperation.

As you all know, the mandatory audit scheme will be implemented from the beginning of 2016. The audit schedule has already been established and I am now sending letters to the 19 States whose audit will be carried out in 2016 to ask them to prepare for IMO's audit. I will also strengthen the Secretariat's resources to support the IMO audit scheme very shortly. The III Sub-Committee will eventually explore its function in the context of mandatory audit, and I am looking forward to the constructive debate at an appropriate time.

Now I would like to provide some specific comments on issues on the agenda of the first session.

First of all, Non-convention ships standards – you may recall my statement at MSC 93. The time has come to take a further step forward to improve safety of passenger ships regardless of the nature of navigation, either international or domestic. I express condolences, once again, for the victims of a Vanuatu inter-islands ferry which capsized last week. The work of the Sub-Committee on GlobalReg is really appreciated. I have launched, as you may be aware, a new TC project to strengthen the current project on Domestic Ferry Safety with a view to establishing recommendations and guidelines for Administrations on domestic ferry safety and I am holding an informal meeting this week with participating countries on domestic ferry safety to discuss the way forward. We are contemplating to hold a conference on this issue in the Philippines next year. I hope that we will combine the efforts of the Sub-Committee with my own initiative and make progress in improving the safety of passenger ships, carrying hundreds of general public, regardless of their nature, international or domestic.

Secondly, casualty analysis and statistics is an important field of activities of the Sub-Committee.I paid particular attention to the planned work this week on the casualty investigation report of the Costa Concordia, Danny F II and Swanland. You might have touched upon the news that the Costa Concordia was finally taken off the ground for demolition. I stress the importance of this work of casualty investigation and analysis in the context of learning lessons from recent casualties and establishing any necessary measures under the provisions of SOLAS. The Maritime Safety Committee debated the need for better casualty data collection and analysis based on the submission by IACS and other industry organizations. Casualty investigation is the responsibility of the flag State and the timely and swift action by flag States and submission of reports to IMO must be ensured. In this context, any discussion on improvements is welcome.

Thirdly, the Ballast Water Management Convention guidelines. Since FSI 21, four more States have ratified (Germany, the Republic of Congo, Switzerland and Tonga). Congratulations to Germany on winning the World Cup last night and I also wish to express my appreciation for all the national teams for the wonderful games played over the past 4 and a half weeks. Turning back to the agenda, recently, I was informed that Argentina, Italy, Japan and Turkey are making real progress with their national procedures for ratification. If all of them ratified the Convention, the accumulated tonnage of the signatory countries would become 34.2% against the condition of entry into force threshold of 35%. I continue to encourage IMO Member States to accelerate the ratification process. This week, this Sub-Committee will have a discussion on a very important issue: Guidelines for the port State control inspection for compliance with the Ballast Water Management Convention. The MEPC, at its October session, will have an important debate on how the BWM Convention should be implemented with particular issues of sampling and PSC in mind. I hope that the MEPC could agree with a set of measures for implementation which may touch upon the issue of grandfathering already installed type approved facilities and, in this context, it is essential that your Sub-Committee provide a clear outcome of discussion on the issue of PSC as a basis of discussion at the MEPC.

Finally, the last point on which I wish to comment is regarding persons rescued at sea. Two weeks ago, NCSR 1 recognized the importance of the safety of persons rescued at sea, but noted that no significant progress had been made so far in our attempt to reach an agreement in the Mediterranean region for the disembarkation of migrants at sea. NCSR 1 agreed to request the MSC to extend the target completion dates by two years. I have stated several times already that we should deal with prevention of migrants travelling by sea. I have now decided to determine and map out the role of IMO in an attempt, in cooperation with other UN agencies such as UNHCR and UNODC, to prevent illegal migrants travelling by sea from countries in north Africa to countries in continental Europe. I have allocated the necessary resources in the Secretariat in this context, in order to provide the necessary support for this activity.

With this, distinguished delegates, I would like to conclude my opening remarks and before we move to the first activity of the Sub-Committee, I would like to invite everybody to join the usual cocktail reception, which will be held at the end of the day today.