A new, comprehensive security regime for international shipping is set to go into effect in July 2004 following the adoption by a Diplomatic Conference held at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) from December 9 to 13. The measures represent the culmination of work by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee
and its Intersessional Working Group since the terrorist atrocities in the United States in September 2001.
The Conference was attended by 108 Contracting Governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, observers from two IMO Member States and observers from the two IMO Associate Members. United Nations specialized agencies, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental international organizations also sent observers to the Conference.
The Conference adopted a number of amendments to the 1974 Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), the most far-reaching of which enshrines the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). The Code contains detailed security-related requirements for Governments, port authorities and shipping companies in a mandatory section (Part A), together with a series of guidelines about how to meet these requirements in a second, non-mandatory section (Part B). The Conference also adopted a series of resolutions designed to add weight to the amendments, encourage the application of the measures to ships and port facilities not covered by the Code and pave the way for future work on the subject.
Speaking at the end of the conference, IMO Secretary-General William O’Neil told delegates, “You have also succeeded, through the interest the Conference has generated worldwide, in highlighting and promoting the need for the development of a security consciousness in all that we do to complement IMO’s existing objectives of developing a safety culture and an environmental conscience.” He strongly urged all parties concerned to start putting in place all the necessary legislative, administrative and operational provisions needed to give effect to the decisions of the Conference as soon as possible.