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IMO Announces Policy Changes In Biennial Plan

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

09 December 2009

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Assembly has adopted several resolutions at the end of its 26th regular session, including making participation in the IMO Member State Audit Scheme mandatory, and approving a short-term action plan on tackling issues such as piracy.

According to the plan adopted by the Assembly, the IMO Member State Audit Scheme will be phased in as an institutionalized, mandatory scheme, through the introduction of appropriate requirements in the relevant mandatory IMO instruments.

Amendments to these instruments are to be adopted in 2013, for entry into force in January 2015. A resolution on the Framework and Procedures for the Scheme will also be adopted by the IMO Assembly in 2013, while preparatory work for the commencement of an institutionalized scheme will be carried out during 2014.

The Assembly urged Member States that have not yet volunteered for audits under the current, voluntary scheme to do so, in order that lessons can continue to be learned from it.

It also requested the Secretary-General to take action, within the Organization’s Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, to assist Member States to participate in the Scheme and with building capacity to address related needs.

The Assembly additionally adopted amendments to the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, 2007, which serves as the audit standard for the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme.

Other areas of the IMO action plan included:

  • Addressing the prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, in particular off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, and promoting capacity-building for that purpose in the affected countries;
  • Strengthening consideration of the human element in the rule-making process, and making adequate preparations to support the effective implementation of the revised International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and STCW Code, due to be adopted in June 2010;
  • Contributing to worldwide efforts to address the phenomena of climate change and global warming, through the introduction of appropriate measures to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships;
  • Promoting and raising the profile, quality and environmental consciousness of shipping; and
  • Identifying and addressing any capacity-building or other needs related to the safety or environmental aspects of ships not covered by IMO instruments (e.g. small vessels or vessels engaged solely in domestic trade).

Finally, commenting on recent developments, the Assembly welcomed the decision of the United Nations Security Council on November 30 to grant external government forces, for a extended 12 month period, access to Somalia’s territorial waters to aid the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in the fight piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast.

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