Chile and Denmark have become the first two IMO States to cement formally their participation in the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme.
A major milestone in the implementation of the Scheme has been achieved during the 96th session of the IMO Council (19 – 23 June) with the signing of the first two Memoranda of Co-operation for the conduct of audits. The documents were signed by IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos and Vice-Admiral Francisco Martinez Villaroel, Director General of the Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine of Chile and Mr. Jorgen Hammer Hansen, Director General of the Danish Maritme Audthority, respectively.
The Memoranda pave the way for audits on both Chile
and Denmark under
the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme during the current biennium (2006-2007).
Following the signing of the Memorandum, Vice-Admiral Martinez said, “This important challenge will allow us far better to ensure the continuing evolution of our national maritime interests under the objectives of safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment.” He added, “We hope to share with the international maritime community the experiences we gain from this important event.”
In turn, Mr. Hansen indicated that he was pleased with the progress being made in the implementation of the Scheme and that Denmark was proud to be the first country that would be audited. He said. “We have been very keen supporters of the development of this audit scheme and have put a great deal of work into the development of the Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments. We are very happy to be the first to be audited – we feel strongly that the cook should eat his own food! We will enter into the audit being humble and keen to learn lessons from the outcome – whatever they may be.”
The Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme is an initiative that will transform the character of monitoring the implementation of IMO instruments. Whilst the principal IMO safety and environmental protection treaties do not assign to the Organization and its respective bodies a defined role in monitoring or assessing how Parties to such treaties execute their responsibilities, the 1995 amendments to the 1978 STCW Convention had established and demonstrated that Parties to IMO treaties were prepared to accept a degree of peer review. Furthermore, the increasing use of port State control records and casualty statistics as the primary criteria for measuring the performance of flag States, underscored the need for the development of an IMO methodology for assessing the level of compliance by its Member States with all of their treaty obligations.
The Scheme therefore heralds a new era for IMO, in which the Organization has at its disposal a tool to achieve harmonized and consistent global implementation and enforcement of IMO standards, something which is key to realizing the IMO objectives of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.
The Scheme addresses issues such as conformance in enacting appropriate legislation for the IMO instruments to which a State is Party; the administration and enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations of the Member State; the delegation of authority in terms of the implementation of convention requirements; and the control and monitoring mechanism of the Member State’s survey and certification processes and of its recognized organizations.
It will help to identify where capacity-building activities would have the greatest effect and it will also enable appropriate action to be much more precisely focused. Individual Member States which volunteer to be audited will receive valuable feedback and, on a wider scale, generic lessons learnt from audits could be provided to all Member States so that the benefits may be shared. The regulatory process at IMO may also benefit from the results of this learning experience.
Secretary-General Mitropoulos welcomed the signature of the two Memoranda. He said, “these represent a major milestone in the implementation of the audit scheme and I should like to express my wholehearted support for Chile and Denmark in being so ready to come forward. I have every confidence that many other IMO Members will follow soon and, by so doing, will do a great service to the cause of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.”