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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The IMO Assembly will meet for its 32nd session

The Assembly will meet in remote session.  

The Assembly is open to all 175 IMO Member States and three Associate Members. It will also be attended by observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. 

The Assembly is the highest Governing Body of the Organization. It consists of all Member States and meets once every two years in regular sessions, but may also meet in an extraordinary session, if necessary. The Assembly is responsible for approving the work programme, the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. The Assembly also elects the Members of the Council.  In addition, the Assembly adopts certain resolutions emanating from the five IMO Committees and endorses actions of the Council with respect to the admission of new intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as observers.  The Assembly also adopts amendments to certain treaties, if a Committee is unable to do so.   

IMO awards event

On the first day of the Assembly, 6 December, IMO will be hosting the IMO Awards ceremony, which will be a hybrid event. Details can be found here

Strategic plan to include human element strategic direction 

The Assembly is expected to update the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan for the Organization, to include a new strategic direction on the human element.  

The current strategic plan includes seven strategic directions:  SD 1 Improve implementation; SD 2 Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework; SD 3 Respond to climate change; SD 4 Engage in ocean governance; SD 5 Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade; SD 6 Ensure regulatory effectiveness; SD 7 Ensure organizational effectiveness.  

A new SD 8 will focus on the human element.  

The human element is currently included within the overarching principles of the plan.  Its inclusion as a specific strategic direction recognizes its significance, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when the human element has been a focus for joint work with UN sister organizations, in particular ILO, ICAO and WHO, industry associations and social partners. The human element has been the subject of numerous joint statements, resolutions, guidance and other provisions. 

Budget and work programme 

The Assembly is expected to adopt the Organization’s budget and work programme for 2022 and 2023. 

The IMO Council has already approved a regular budget outline for the 2022-2023 biennium of £75,671,000, comprising an appropriation of £37,350,000 for 2022 and an appropriation of £38,321,000 for 2023. 

Election of Council  

A new 40-Member IMO Council for the 2022-2023 biennium will be elected.  

The election will take place on Friday 10 December, with in-person private ballot.  

The candidates for election are listed here.

The newly elected Council will meet on 16th December (for the Council’s 126th session) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair.  

Adoption of amendments to the IMO Convention  – expansion of Council  

The Assembly is expected to adopt draft amendments to the IMO Convention to expand the size of the Council and extend the term of its Members.   

Until the amendments enter into force, the current structure will remain unchanged.   

The proposed amendments, approved by the IMO Council already, would require acceptance by two thirds of the IMO Membership, or 117 Member States (based on the current membership of 175 Member States for entry into force. 

Upon entry into force of these amendments, the IMO Council will increase by 12 Member States, from its current 40 Members to 52. Expanding the size of the IMO Council would see 12 seats allocated to Categories (a) and (b) each and 28 seats to Category (c). 

The categories are: 
(a) – States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services 
(b) – States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade  
(c) – States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world. 

Member term length 

Under the amendments, Council Members would remain in their roles until the end of the next two consecutive regular sessions of the Assembly, after which they would be eligible for re-election. Since Assemblies are usually held every two years, this would usually mean that Members would serve a four-year term. 

Guidance on Article 17 of the IMO Convention 

The Assembly is expected to adopt guidance on consistent application of Article 17 of the IMO Convention.  Article 17 covers the election of Members of the Council, specifically that election under category (c) should ensure a wide geographic representation.   

 The guidance aims to facilitate compliance with the criteria in Article 17 of the IMO Convention, in particular the special interests in maritime transport or navigation; and to better reflect geographical distribution and representation, including small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). 

Other resolutions  

The Assembly will adopt a number of important resolutions on key aspects of the Organization’s work, including those covering:  

  • Comprehensive action to address seafarers’ challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic ; 
  •  Prevention and suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships and illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea (to update IMO Assembly resolution A.1069(28)); 
  • Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, 2021;  
  • 2021 Non-exhaustive list of obligations under instruments relevant to the IMO instruments implementation Code (III Code);  
  • Procedures for port State control, 2021; 
  • Entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety 
  • Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services  
  • Unified interpretations of the test for breaking limitations of liability (in the LLMC and CLC treaties)  
  • The capacity-building decade 2021-2030 
  • International day for women in maritime  
  • Relations with intergovernmental organizations 

Arrangements

The Assembly will elect a President and Vice-Presidents.  

Three Committees will be established: Credentials Committee; Committee 1 (the Administrative, Financial, Legal and Technical Cooperation Committee); and Committee 2 (the Technical Committee).  

The Assembly will meet in remote session.  

The timetable is available in document A 32/1/1 (as revised). 

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