IMO’s Legal Committee encourages ratification of 2010 HNS Protocol


At last week’s meeting of the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), states repeated their support for the international liability and compensation regime for damage in connection with the carriage of hazardous and noxious substances by sea. 

The IMO Legal Committee, at its 104th session, discussed various issues related to the facilitation of the entry into force of the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea 1996 (the 2010 HNS Protocol).

A few days before the meeting, Norway had deposited an instrument of ratification to the 2010 HNS Protocol and, therefore, became its first contracting state. This is an important step in efforts to ensure worldwide ratification of the protocol, which is strongly supported by the industry. BIMCO, ECSA and ICS recently issued a joint statement as a result of the European Parliament’s consent to the draft EU Council Decisions authorising member states to ratify or accede to the protocol. The decisions were adopted on 25 April.

To further promote ratification and entry into force of the protocol the Legal Committee approved a presentation on HNS incident scenarios. The presentation, amongst other things, provides information about the potential impacts associated with HNS incidents and compensation available under the protocol. The committee also agreed on a draft resolution, to be adopted by the IMO Assembly, and a programme for a two-day workshop in 2018 relating to the implementation and entry into force of the protocol.

The committee considered the issue of financial security in case of abandonment of seafarers and, notably, the database on abandonment cases established jointly by the IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The committee acknowledged the benefits of the 2014 amendments to the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, which establish mandatory requirements for shipowners to maintain a financial security to cover abandonment, as well as death and long-term disability of seafarers owing to occupational injury and hazard. It was agreed that the IMO, in cooperation with the ILO, would work to improve the functioning of the database.

Piracy was also discussed and, notably, two proposals relating to seafarers held hostage. A proposal for the Legal Committee to issue a circular encouraging states to share information with maritime administrations of seafarers held hostage was not considered necessary, as the issue had already been dealt with in an IMO Assembly resolution. While states were generally in favour of provisions for the continuation of seafarers’ employment contracts when they are held captive, a proposal to invite the ILO to explore this was not considered needed, as this issue is already being considered by a Special Tripartite Committee of the ILO.

The next meeting of the IMO Legal Committee will take place in April 2018.

Christian Hoppe
in Copenhagen, DK


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