Maritime Lawyers, Shipowners to Promote Ratification of International Maritime Conventions

The Comité Maritime International (CMI) – the international association for maritime lawyers – has joined forces with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) – which represent the operators of over 80% of the world merchant fleet – to promote those key international maritime Conventions which they believe are vital for governments to ratify and implement as soon as possible.

As part of their joint campaign, ICS, ISF and CMI have today published a new brochure, which their respective member national associations will be distributing to governments worldwide in order to encourage more widespread ratification of a number of instruments adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“Shipping is an inherently international industry dependent on a global regulatory system to operate efficiently.” explained ICS/ISF Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe. “It is crucial that the same regulations governing matters such as safety, environmental protection and liability apply to all ships in international trade, and that the same laws apply to all parts of a ship’s voyage. The alternative would be chaos.”

CMI President, Stuart Hetherington, added “I am delighted that CMI is co-operating with ICS and ISF members to assist those countries where there has been limited ratification of some of the more important maritime Conventions. Our hope is that all of the instruments we have identified for promotion will eventually enjoy the same level of universal acceptance amongst governments as Conventions such as SOLAS and MARPOL.”

The launch of the brochure has been timed to coincide with a meeting of the IMO Facilitation Committee (8-12 April) given that the brochure now includes the IMO Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) as one of the key international instruments whose wider ratification the industry organisations wish to promote, especially amongst developing countries. The FAL Convention makes life easier for ships and their crews by reducing reporting formalities when ships enter the ports of other nations.

However, the campaign is also seeking to encourage the ratification by governments of a number of other instruments dealing with international liabilities and insurance cover, which are of special interest to CMI, as well as to ICS. These include: the 1996 Protocol to the International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC), whose limits were increased by IMO last year; the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention on passenger liability (PAL); the 2010 Protocol to the HNS Convention; and the (UNCITRAL) Rotterdam Rules on cargo liability.

Following discussion between ICS and CMI, the brochure also includes the IMO Convention governing liabilities for wreck removal which was adopted in 2007. The Nairobi Convention has now been ratified by six countries, only two of which have so far elected to apply it into their territorial sea. In order to encourage international uniformity, this Convention is now being promoted actively by industry, although only on the basis that ratifications should always include governments opting to apply the Convention’s provisions into their territorial sea.

The new brochure also refers to the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. However, while it is explained that ICS supports the eventual entry into force of the BWM Convention, it is not currently being actively promoted for additional ratification by governments, pending the resolution of important questions about implementation prior to its entry into force.

The other maritime instruments highlighted by the brochure include: MARPOL Annex VI, which governs atmospheric pollution and CO2 emissions; the IMO (Hong Kong) Ship Recycling Convention, which is in danger of being undermined by a proposed EU regulation currently being debated by the European Parliament; the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, governing employment conditions for seafarers and which enters into force this August; and ILO Convention 185, which concerns access to shore leave and crew visas (which will also be a topic of discussion at the IMO Facilitation Committee, this week, as it considers changing references in the FAL Convention to the theoretical prohibition on Parties requiring crew to have visas).

ICS, April 8, 2013

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