Overview – IMO Assembly, 30th session, 27 November to 6 December 2017

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A view from the Assembly

11/12/2017 The Assembly adopted strategic plan, including seven newly-identified strategic directions to support implementation of UN SDGS. Full Story »

IMO Secretary-General opening speech here.

The IMO Assembly met for its 30th session at IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom (27 November to 6 December). The Assembly was the largest-ever gathering at IMO Headquarters in London, attended by some 1,400 participants, including 56 at the ministerial level, from 165 Member States, as well as observers from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. 

Strategic directions and vision adopted
The Assembly adopted its strategic plan for 2018-2023, including a revised mission statement, a vision statement (included for the first time) and seven newly-identified strategic directions for IMO, placing the Organization firmly on route to supporting the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The strategic directions are:

  • Improve implementation – ensuring regulations are effectively, efficiently and consistently implemented and enforced.
  • Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework – balancing the benefits derived from new and advancing technologies against safety and security concerns, the impact on the environment and on international trade facilitation, the potential costs to the industry, and their impact on personnel, both on board and ashore.
  • Respond to climate change – developing appropriate, ambitious and realistic solutions to minimize shipping’s contribution to air pollution and its impact on climate change.
  • Engage in ocean governance – engaging in the processes and mechanisms by which the use of the oceans and their resources are regulated and controlled.
  • Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade – addressing things like arrival and departure formalities, documentation and certification, and generally reducing the administrative burdens that surround ship operation.
  • Ensure regulatory effectiveness – improving the actual process of developing regulations, to make them more effective; gathering more data, and being better and smarter at using it to make decisions; getting better feedback from Member States and the industry and improving the way IMO learns from experience and feeds those lessons back into the regulatory process.
  • Ensure organizational effectiveness – increasing the overall effectiveness of IMO, including the Member states, non-governmental organizations, donors, the Secretariat –all the many stakeholders in the Organization as a whole.

Vision statement:  
“IMO will uphold its leadership role as the global regulator of shipping, promote greater recognition of the sector’s importance and enable the advancement of shipping, whilst addressing the challenges of continued developments in technology and world trade; and the need to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

To achieve this, IMO will focus on review, development and implementation of and compliance with IMO instruments in its pursuit to proactively identify, analyse and address emerging issues and support Member States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Focus on marine plastic pollution
The Assembly recognized that the ongoing problem of marine plastic pollution required further consideration as part of a global solution within the framework of ocean governance. This is in line with the UN SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) which has a target to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution by 2025.

IMO’s MARPOL treaty addresses garbage under its Annex V, which bans the discharge of plastics from ships into the oceans.  The treaties which regulate the dumping of wastes at sea (London Convention and Protocol) also have role to play in addressing plastic in the oceans from land-based sources.

The Assembly recognized the role that the Organization has and continues to play in addressing this problem. The Assembly encouraged Member States, Parties to MARPOL Annex V and international organizations to submit concrete proposals to the next sessions of the Marine Environment Protection Committee and the meeting of the Parties to the London Convention and Protocol which meet during 2018.

Polar code second phase welcomed
The IMO Assembly welcomed the planned work within the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to build on the already-adopted Polar Code and move forwards with looking at how vessels not currently covered by its requirements might be regulated in future.

The Polar Code, which entered into force on 1 January 2017 under both the SOLAS and MARPOL treaties, provides additional requirements for safe ship operation in polar waters and the protection of the polar environment.

The work on the second phase, to address other vessels, including fishing vessels and smaller ships not covered by the SOLAS treaty, will be initiated at MSC 99 in May 2018.

IMO number scheme extended to fishing vessels and other vessels  
The Assembly agreed to extend the IMO Ship Identification Number Scheme to more vessels, on a voluntary basis, to support ship safety and pollution prevention by being able to more easily identify vessels.

The number scheme applies to ships over 100 GT and is mandatory for passenger ships of 100 gross tonnage and upwards and all cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards. In 2013, the Assembly agreed to voluntary extension to fishing vessels over 100 gt. Further voluntary application is now extended to fishing vessels of steel and non-steel hull construction; passenger ships of less than 100 gross tonnage, high-speed passenger craft and mobile drilling units, engaged on international voyages; and to all motorized inboard fishing vessels of less than 100 gross tonnage down to a size limit of 12 metres in length overall authorized to operate outside waters under national jurisdiction of the flag State.

Identifying and tracking fishing vessels operating at sea and being able to establish their ownership is an important part of ongoing work to tackle illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing. IMO is working closely with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) as well as other stakeholders, to tackle IUU fishing.

IMO is also encouraging States to ratify the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety, to bring this important treaty into force.

Port State Control – revised procedures adopted
Port State control plays a crucially important role as the second line of defence against sub-standard ships. The Assembly adopted revised Procedures for Port State Control.
The resolution contains a comprehensive compilation of guidelines relevant to Port State Control. It updates the previous Procedures for PSC adopted in 2011 (resolution A.1052(27)). The revisions include, in particular, guidelines on the ISM Code; the certification of seafarers, hours of rest and manning; and procedures regarding voluntary early implementation of amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and related mandatory instruments.

Ratification of 2010 HNS Protocol urged
The Assembly adopted a resolution calling on States to consider ratifying a key treaty which will provide a global regime for liability and compensation in the event of an incident involving the international or domestic carriage by sea of Hazardous and Noxious Substances, such as chemicals, LPG and LNG.

The resolution calls on States to consider ratifying, or acceding to, the 2010 HNS Protocol and to implement it in a timely manner. It also urges all States to work together towards the implementation and entry into force of the 2010 HNS Protocol by sharing best practices, and in resolving any practical difficulties in setting up the new regime.

Delegating the authority of issuing certificates of insurance 
The Assembly adopted a resolution to allow for the delegation of authority to issue certificates of insurance under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1992 (the 1992 Civil Liability Convention) and the 2010 HNS Convention.

Unlike the Bunkers Convention 2001, the 2002 Athens Convention and the 2007 Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 2010 HNS Convention do not provide an explicit framework for the delegation of authority to issue certificates of insurance.
The resolution confirms that a State Party to the 1992 Civil Liability Convention or the 2010 HNS Convention can authorize an institution or an organization recognized by it to issue the certificates of insurance or other financial security required by these Conventions.

It also  reminds States Parties that the delegation of authority to issue the certificates of insurance or other financial security required by the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 2010 HNS Convention would not affect the potential liability the delegating State may have in relation to those certificates.

Launching missiles without warning condemned
The Assembly endorsed the decision of the IMO Council to strongly condemn recent missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which posed clear and serious danger to the safety of shipping in international trade.

IMO budget adopted 
The Organization’s results-based budget and work programme for 2018 to 2019 was adopted by the Assembly. The budget includes an assessment on Member States of £31,864,000 for 2018 and £33,242,000 for 2019.

Election of the IMO Council
The Assembly elected the 40-Member IMO Council for the next biennium 2018 to 2019 (see Briefing 35/2017).

The Assembly directed the Council at its 120th session in June 2018 to examine the processes and procedures of the Assembly and Council, with a view to making suggestions for reform.

Election of Council Chair
The newly elected Council met on 7 December and elected Mr. Xiaojie Zhang (China) as Chair for 2018-2019. The election of the Vice-Chair was postponed until July 2018.  The Council expressed its deep appreciation for the outstanding efforts and achievements of the previous Chair, Mr Jeff Lantz (United States).

Full list of resolutions adopted:

A.1110(30) Strategic plan for the Organization for the six-year period 2018-2023

A.1111(30) Application of the strategic plan of the Organization

A.1112(30) Results-based budget for the 2018-2019 biennium

A.1113(30) Revision of the Organization’s financial regulations (effective 1 January 2018)

A.1114(30) Presentation of accounts and audit reports

A.1115(30) Arrears of contributions

A.1116(30) Escape route signs and equipment location markings

A.1117(30)) IMO Ship Identification Number Scheme

A.1118(30) Revised Guidelines on the implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by Administrators

A.1119(30) Procedures for Port State Control, 2017

A.1120(30) Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification (HSSC), 2017

A.1121(30) 2017 Non-exhaustive list of obligations under instruments relevant to the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code)

A.1122(30) Code for the transport and handling of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore support vessels (OSV Chemical Code)

A.1123(30) Implementation and entry into force of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol

A.1124(30) Delegation of authority to issue certificates of insurance or other financial security required under the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Convention

A.1125(30) Relations with non-governmental organizations

A.1126(30) Linkages between IMO’s technical assistance work and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

A.1127(30) Guiding principles of IMO’s integrated technical cooperation programme in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

A.1128(30) Financing and partnership arrangements for an effective and sustainable integrated technical cooperation programme

A.1129(30) World Maritime University and International Maritime Law Institute students visiting IMO Headquarters

A.1130(30) Charter of the World Maritime University

IMO Assembly 
The 30th Assembly of IMO met in London at IMO Headquarters from 27 November to 6 December 2017. It was attended by some 1,400 participants, including 56 at the ministerial level, from 165 Member States, as well as observers from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and from the World Maritime University (WMU), the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI).

The Assembly normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Organization’s 40-Member Council.

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