At the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly, from 6-15 December 2021, the Assembly adopted a resolution on comprehensive action to address seafarers’ challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, consolidating issues related to crew change, access to medical care, ʺkey workerʺ designation and seafarers’ prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination.
ore specifically, the resolution urges Member States to:
- Designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ in order to facilitate shore leave and safe and unhindered movement across borders, and recognize their relevant documentation for this purpose;
- Consider the implementation of the Industry recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic;
- Prioritize vaccination of seafarers, as far as practicable, in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes;
- Consider exempting seafarers from any national policy requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry, taking into account that seafarers should be designated as ʺkey workersʺ and that they travel across borders frequently;
- Provide seafarers with immediate access to medical care and facilitate medical evacuation of seafarers in need of urgent medical attention when the required medical care cannot be provided either on board or in the port of call.
Prevention and suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships and illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea
The Assembly adopted an updated resolution on prevention and suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships and illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea.
The resolution acknowledges the serious safety and security concerns of the industry and the seafaring community due to the attacks against ships sailing in the Gulf of Guinea and the danger to life and serious risks to navigational safety and the environment that attacks by pirates, armed robbers and other criminals may cause.
Acknowledging the efforts made by countries in the region as well as other entities, the resolution urges Governments:
- To cooperate with and assist States in the Gulf of Guinea to develop their national and regional capabilities to improve maritime governance in waters under their jurisdiction;
- To prevent piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS.
- To build capacity to interdict and bring to justice those who commit crimes. Such assistance might include strengthening of the legal frameworks, including anti-piracy laws and enforcement regulations; the training of national maritime law enforcement agencies; promoting anti-piracy and law enforcement coordination and cooperation procedures between and among States, regions, organizations and industry; and the sharing of information.
Entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety
The adopted resolution urges Governments that have not yet become parties to the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety to consider doing so by 11 October 2022, the tenth anniversary of the Agreement’s adoption.
The date reflects the commitment by States which signed a declaration at the 2019 Torremolinos Conference.
The resolution recognizes the efforts and contributions made by Member States, FAO, ILO and The Pew Charitable Trusts to support the regional and national seminars and webinars, which have been held in all regions of the globe since 2014, on the implementation and ratification of the Agreement, including webinars held during 2020-2021.
The capacity-building decade 2021-2030
IMO adopted a resolution setting out its aims and ambitions regarding capacity building during the current decade, adopting the Capacity-Building Decade 2021-2030 Strategy. The strategy aims to support Member States in the adoption, implementation and enhancement of compliance with IMO instruments.
The strategy will address the needs of Member States including issues identified through the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS), and achieve the maritime aspects of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through a focus on supporting the development and implementation of robust national maritime policies and strategies predicated on harnessing the full potential of the maritime economies.
Prevention and suppression of fraudulent acts in the maritime sector
The adopted resolution encourages Governments to review the provisions in their national law relating to the prevention and suppression of all forms of maritime fraud and to make such additions or improvements, regarding, among others, the exercise of due diligence, as may be necessary for the prevention and suppression of such acts and practices, and for safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders concerned.
Governments are urged to take all possible measures of cooperation with each other and with relevant intergovernmental organizations and maritime stakeholders in order to maintain and develop coordinated actions in all relevant areas to combat maritime fraud, including the exchange of information and reporting the names of ships and registries involved in fraudulent acts
said the IMO.
The resolution also urges Governments, the IMO Secretary-General, port State control authorities, vessel owners and operators, non-governmental organizations, the private sector including the maritime insurance industry, ship brokers and other relevant maritime stakeholders to develop workshops that will focus on improving capabilities and due diligence practices for the prevention, detection and reporting of fraudulent registration documentation.
Strategic plan updated to include human element strategic direction
The Assembly updated the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan for the Organization, to include a new strategic direction (SD) on the human element.
The strategic plan now includes eight 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;
- SD 8 Human element.
The strategic direction on the human element says:
In its role as the global regulator of shipping, IMO will build on work already completed to address the human element and will take the human element into account in the review, development and implementation of new and existing requirements. This includes the provision of machinery for cooperation among governments on practices concerning the human element in the maritime sector
To address human element-related issues, IMO will develop or amend provisions, including but not limited to:
- Certification and watchkeeping, including consideration of new technologies;
- Human-centered design;
- Safe manning;
- Drills and exercises;
- Fatigue management;
- Operational safety;
- Environmental protection;
- Fair treatment of seafarers;
- Taking into account the important role of gender equality.
The inclusion of the human element 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.
International Day for Women in Maritime
The Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming an International Day for Women in Maritime, to be observed on 18 May every year.
The observance will celebrate women in the industry and is intended to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.