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Written by Capt Rajeev Jassal on January 25, 2016

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At IMO, Maritime resolutions are issued by the Assembly, The council
and by each of the committee.
ISPS Code: 9 Important and Must
Know Elements
Each committee brings resolutions to amend part of International (https://www.myseatime.com/blog/detail/what-
convention that they are associated with. is-isps-code-and-security-levels)
5 January 2017

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(SOLAS) and STCW convention.


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Each resolution of IMO looks something like this you...

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Jassal
Where the initial letter(s) shows who has passed this resolution. Enter your email address here...
Capt. Rajeev Jassal has sailed for

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FAL (Facilitation committee) orLEG (legal Committee). degree from London. He has done
How to make correct
extensive research on quantitatively
Position Fixing: The How to Install ENCs oil record book
measuring Safety culture onboard and
The next
Most number shows the resolution number and
Important onitFuruno
is in chronological
ECDIS- (Cargo)
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The number in the bracket shows the sessions in which this resolution
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was adopted. So the resolution MSC.374(93) refers to the MSC
fixing-the-most- furuno-ecdis-step-by- 18 April, 2017
resolution number 374 which was adopted in the 93rd session of the 2 comments
important-element-of- step-guide)
MSC.
passage-planning) 24 April, 2017
4 comments
6 May, 2017
7 comments

(https://myseatime.com/blogadm/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/MSC-
Resolution-highlighting-the-resolution-number.png)

Why to amend a convention

The only permanent thing in this world is Change. And the way we move
our cargoes through sea andthe way ships are operating at sea is
changing every single day.

A convention passed 30 years back may have many elements which are
not applicable today. Same way, We might discover new strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which were not the part of
original convention.

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that, we could either bring a security convention or amend an existing


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So unless the new identified threats are too unique to be included in the you...
existing conventions, it is always better to amemd the existing
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(MARPOL). Pollution was totally different from safety and so instead of


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including MARPOL in SOLAS convention, we got new convention called
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Also take an example of Ballast water convention. The topic of ballast


water was much debatable. The debate was onits inclusion in the
MARPOL as another annex or as a stand alone convention.

Even though ballast water was considered to be a kind of pollution but at


the end it was agreed that the ballast water is aunique area from other
pollutions and hence instead of including it in MARPOL, a new
convention was adopted.

See the results, ballast water convention was adopted in 2004 and as of
1st Jan 2016, ballast water convention is still not ratified.

How resolutions are proposed, adopted and


passed

For a resolution to come into effect, there are 5 mainsteps

1. A contracting government need to propose aresolution.

2. IMO or its respective committee need to review the resolution


proposal

3. Resolution need to be adopted in the IMO and finally

4. Resolution need to be accepted by the contracting governments

5. After a fixed time from acceptance, a resolution enters into force.

Proposal of the resolution


There are two ways an amendment to a maritime convention can be
proposed to the IMO.

1. By any contracting government

2. By a group of contracting governments.

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SG would pass the proposal to the MSC or MEPC for review. MSC or
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In the second option, A contracting government proposes the
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amendment for which they haveconcurrence of atleast one-third of the you...
contracting governments.
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The concurrence by the other governments can be given to the
appropriate committee. In this case, the committee arranges for a Enter your email address here...

conference of the contracting governments to consider the amendments.


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The advantage of the second option is that it is the faster way of We promise to not use your email for spam!

proposing and adopting an amendment to the convention.

Adoption of a resolution
Resolutions are adopted by voting in Maritime safety committeeor
Maritime Environment Protection Committee. There are 2 conditions for a
resolution to be adopted

1. Atleast one-third of the contracting governments should be present


for voting. On this date, there are 174 countries that are members to
the IMO. So for a resolution to be adopted, at least 58 countries
should be present.

2. Atleast two-third of the contracting governments present, should


vote in favor of resolution.So if 60 countries were present, at least
40 countries should vote in favor of the resolution.

If the proposal to the amendment was made through the conference,

1) the first conditionwould be metconsidering there would be high


chances of the one-third of the governments present for voting.

2) The second condition should also be met as all of the one-third


governments had given the concurrence tothe amendment.

This is the reason, the proposal by the conference would be adopted


faster.

Acceptance of the resolution


A resolution once adopted, it is passed to all contracting governments
for acceptance. The Secretary general communicates the adopted
resolution to all contracting governments.

The process of acceptance of a resolution was a tedious one but IMO


did a great job in amending the process itself.

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And the governments had their reasons to be in that situations. Most of
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the times the governments were not sure if you...

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2. If they can effectively implement the resolution
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Whatever the reasons, but the acceptance of resolutions used to take a


lot of time.

IMO then introduced the tacit way of acceptance of a resolution. Even


though not all the resolutions are accepted with tacit acceptance
procedures but most of them are.

For example Marpol convention as per article 16 f(ii) gives authority to


MEPC to decide if the amendment will be accepted by tacit acceptance
or explicit acceptance.

The acceptance of a resolution to amend SOLAS convention is only


done by tacit acceptance.

Tacit Acceptance of aresolution


In simple terms tacit acceptance means accepted unless objected. It
is opposite of earlier process of rejected unless accepted.

Under tacit acceptance, a resolution is accepted on an agreed time


interval from adoptionunless it is objected by a number of contracting
governments.

The committee decides the agreed interval during adoption of resolution.


However there is minimum interval that is set in respective conventions.

For example as per Marpol convention, the minimum interval between


adoption and acceptance has to be 10 months. Same way, as per SOLAS
the minimum interval should notbe less than one year.

SOLAS convention has also specified maximum interval between


adoption and acceptance as 2 years.

How many number of government need to object for a resolution not to


be accepted is also mentioned in respective conventions. These are
usually

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2. contracting governments that constitutesnot less than 50% of the


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(tacit) that government has accepted the resolution. We are still learning and so w
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Entry in force of a resolution
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Once a resolution is accepted by tacit means or otherwise, it then enter


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when the accepted resolution would enter into force.


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enter into force 6 months after it has been accepted.

2. Convention

Now that we know how a resolution amends a maritime convention, Its


time to take a dive into the what conventions actually are.

What is a convention
There are many different ways to define a convention. A convention is a
formal agreement between states.

Or a convention is an instrumentwhich is negotiated under an


international organisation such as United Nations.

There are number of conventions


(https://www.imo.org/en/About/Conventions/ListOfConventions/Pages/Default.aspx)that
IMO has given to maritime industry.To Name a few, these are

International convention on safety of life at sea.

International convention on prevention of marine pollution

FAL convention

Loadline convention

Salvage convention
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salvage-convention)

Convention is not a law


It is important to highlight that convention is not a law in itself. A
convention becomes a law when it is implemented in a countrys own
legal system.

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Singapore and India have included it as legislation called Merchant


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Shipping act. USA call it CFR.
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For a convention to come in force, itneed to be adopted at IMO, ratified
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by the contracting governments and brought into force. you...

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Proposal & Adoption of a convention
Typically an event,incident or a research study can triggera need for a
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new convention. Incident of Titanic triggered a need of SOLAS
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Incident of Torrey Canyon triggered a need of MARPOL convention.
And lately various research studies triggered the need of ballast
convention.

Discussions on these incidents and research studies in shipping and


other related industries is part of sessions of IMO committees and sub-
committees.

Once IMO identifies a need for a new convention, the respective


committee assisted by various sub-committees work on adopting the
convention.

Ratification of the convention


Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession are different
ways in which a state (read country) can give their consent to be bound
by the convention.

All these ways concerns the legality of procedure so we will not dig
deep into it.

But the idea is that the states need to be ready for the new convention
and they should give their consent for that by one of these ways. When
a convention is adopted, it is usually agreed on how many states need to
ratify the convention for it to come in force.

For example, the Ballast water convention requires at least 30 states to


ratify which should represent at least 35% of the world gross tonnage.

Ballast water convention is just close to retification.On this date even


though forty-seven countries have ratified the convention, their
combined gross tonnage only represent the 34.56% of the world
tonnage.

3. Circulars

There number of circulars issued at IMO by different committees and


sub-committes. And these circulars divided into more than50 subjects.

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important or rather the one that seafarers are more associated with are
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MSC and MEPC circulars.
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These are the circulars issued by MSC and MEPC respectevely. The & Chief engineer
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pollution.
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What does Circulars are for
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We all know what company circulars that we get onboard are for. It gives
information / clarification on various subjects related to companys SMS Enter your email address here...
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It may also givelatest incident summary. In short it is running log of
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important communication from ship to shore.

IMO circulars serves similar purpose. Among other thing, the circular are
used for clarification, interpretation or guidance on its various codes and
conventions.

We can now looks into how MSC and MEPC circulars look like.

MSC Circulars
As obvious, MSC circulars are related to the maritime safety. The MSC
has divided its circulars in six sub-categories and are numbered from
one to six. Any MSC circular number would look like this

(https://myseatime.com/blogadm/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/MSC-
circular-number.png)

In this MSC ofcourse denotes that it is circular issued by Maritime safety


committe of IMO.

The number 1 denotes the sub-category of the circular. Circ. tells us that
it is a circular and the number in the last is the circular number which is
numbered in chronological order.

The six sub categories that MSC circulars are divided into are

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MSC.2 : Circulars related to MSC- Implementation of codes and
recommendations adopted by the assembly
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MSC.3 : Circulars on Illegal immigrants LOGIN

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MSC.4 : Circulars on piracy matters you...

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assisstance services
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MSC.6 : Other circulars related to safety


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MEPC Circular

Again as obvious, MEPC circulars are related to information on matters


concerning maritime pollution. MEPC circulars are divided into seven
sub-categories. These categories are numbered from one to seven. Any
circular issued by MEPC would look like this

(https://myseatime.com/blogadm/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/MEPC-
circular-number.png)

In this MEPC denotes that the circular is issued by Maritime


environmenta protection committee.

The number next is the number of sub-category that the circular belongs
to. The letters Circ detones that it is a circular and finally the number is
the circular number which is in chronological order.

The seven Sub-categories that MEPC circulars are divided into are

MEPC.1 : Circular relating to general information disseminated by the


MEPC on pollution matters

MEPC.2 : Circular relating to Provisional categorization of liquid


substances

MEPC.3 : Circular relating to Facilities in ports for the reception of oily


wastes from ships

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chemicals in bulk
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MEPC.5 : Circular relating to Pollution prevention equipment required


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MEPC.6 : Circular relating to List of national operational contact point
or points responsible for the receipt, transmission and processing of
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urgent reports on incidents involving harmful substances including oil
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from ships to coastal states
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MEPC.7 : Circular relating to Maritime Environment Protection Enter your email address here...
Committee on pollution matters

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We have only discussed the MSC and MEPC circulars. But there are
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more than 50 categories in which IMO circular are divided.

Each category has again different sub-categories like we have for MSC
and MEPC circulars.

Conclusion

Finally to conclude in short, IMO conventions are set of rules which when
adopted by a countrys legal system, becomes law for that country.

There is a growing need to amend these conventions to keep pace with


the fast moving world and technology. The conventions are amended by
the IMO resolutions which are passed by the committees.

The committees also communicates the interpretation, guidance and


clarifications for the conventions by the various time to time circulars.

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53 Comments

sandip Apr 26, 2016

Can u throw more light on how circulars are issued by MEPC and is there
any standard document which describes procedure and pre requisites for
issuing a circular.

Reply

Rajeev Jassal Apr 26, 2016

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all flag states as well other stakeholders such as classification


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societies so that they can communicate same to the ships as well
as other stakeholder in their Jurisdiction. These information are
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relayed through MEPC circulars. Which information requires to be
communicated is discussed in the meetings of MEPC members at & Chief engineer
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MEPC internal documents/guidelines and I dont think that will be
publicly available. We are still learning and so w
you...
Reply

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Nick Sep 1, 2016

Can you please tell that Who decide that 30 or 40 or 50 state Enter your email address here...
should ratify or this much % of world tonnage to ratify the
convention , for the convention to enter in force? For a particular
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convention how this figures are decided and who decide this?
Awaiting reply eagerly....Thanx We promise to not use your email for spam!

Reply

Harprit Singh May 12, 2016

Thanks explaining basics like numbering system of circulars of Imo.


Reply

Rajeev Jassal May 13, 2016

Glad you liked it Harprit. Let me know if you have any question
regarding any topic.
Reply

Nikhil Bhatt Jun 2, 2016

Thanks a lot for explaining all the topics that you have covered
so far in your highly informative blog. Could you please also
cover topics on practical sight calculation as these are not very
well thought in the classrooms nor at sea we much carry out
calculation due to hectic schedule of ships and ever growing
traffic but this remains an important question for exams and
practical use too.... thanks
Reply

Rajeev Jassal Jun 2, 2016

Happy that you found it informative Nikhil. Thanks for suggesting


a topic and I will surely work on that.
Reply

Nick Sep 1, 2016

Can you please tell that Who decide that 30 or 40 or 50 state


should ratify or this much % of world tonnage to ratify the
convention , for the convention to enter in force? For a particular
convention how this figures are decided and who decide this?
Awaiting reply eagerly....Thanx
Reply

Pravin Jun 30, 2016

Good notes and really appreciate also please put some light on marine
insurance if you have time thanks and keep up the good work
Reply

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Jun 30, 2016


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Ali Jul 23, 2016


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I want to appreciate for your efficient essay and kindly ask to explain about
the CODE's proposal procedure. We promise to not use your email for spam!

Reply

Rajeev Jassal Jul 24, 2016

Thank you Ali for your kind words. Process of proposal of a Code
is similar to the proposal of a convention. As I said in this article
that a proposal can be initiated after a need is felt by IMO or its
member states. A need for a code may arise after an major
incident or after an major research. For example POLAR code
was proposed because there was a need felt for it. This was
because of increasing shipping traffic in POLAR region which
was the result of melting ice that opened the route for shipping
in this area.
Reply

ALI Jul 27, 2016

Thanks for your kind reply.

Reply

Rajeev Jassal Apr 11, 2017

Thanks Ali..
Reply

ziaudeen Aug 1, 2016

Thanks for the nice explanation. Can you please explain the legal difference
between ratification,signature,acession,approval. As these are always
confusing.
Reply

Rajeev Jassal Aug 2, 2016

I am a country representative and I am presented few


resolutions. I sign a proposed resolution. By signing I am only
agreeing to discuss it with at my home country in the parliament.
I am not legally bound by that signature. I go to my home
country and discuss this in parliament and parliament accepts
this to be included in the local laws. I have ratified the
convention. Once the required number of states ratifies the
convention, it comes in force. Once the convention is in force,
another state (country) decides to be part of the convention and
they discuss it in their parliament and agrees to make it a
domestic law in their country. Since this convention is already
ratified, the process will not be called ratification but it is called

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already ratified.
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ziaudeen Aug 13, 2016 & Chief engineer
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Thanks for the clear reply. Can you please explain about M.S Act,
M.S. Rule, M.S.Notice, M.S.Circular. We are still learning and so w
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Rajeev Jassal Aug 13, 2016

Yes sure Ziaudeen. I will write on these topics in near future..


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Yingdi Gou Aug 2, 2016
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Thanks a lot for the comprehensive interpretation. Could you further explain
when a resolution need be made by the assembly but not the MSC/MEPC.
And how ofen the assembly conference is held?
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Rajeev Jassal Aug 4, 2016

Assembly's resolutions are mainly administrative in nature. But


Assembly also brings resolutions related to safety and security.
All IMO committees has set guidelines (guidelines documents are
not available for viewing by public) and if some proposed
resolution is out of those guidelines, assembly's node is required
to pass that MSC/MEPC resolution. Assembly conference (called
session) is held every 2 years. Last was 28th Session held in
2014.

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Yingdi Gou Aug 5, 2016

I just read below article. What is the "sub-committee", what


relationship btw it and MSC/MEPC? "Update from the 3rd session
of the IMO Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO
Instruments (III 3) Published: 2016-08-02 The Sub-Committee met
in London from 18 to 22 July 2016. ....."
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Rajeev Jassal Aug 5, 2016

sub-Committees help committees to carry out their functions.


MSC is a committee that looks after safety matters but safety is a
large topic so each specialised committee help MSC with their
work. For example Sub-committee on ship system and
equipments helps both MSC and MEPC with providing detailed
information on ship's equipment present or proposed for
implementing their work. Same way, Sub-committee on
navigation help MSC deal with navigation related issues.
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Basavaraju Aug 6, 2016

very well explained with practical approach. My question is for appearing for
class 1 exams is it necessary to refer or research so much in depth of all
these topics.
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Rajeev Jassal Aug 9, 2016

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WHat is the meaning of letter "E" on the right hand side corner of the
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circular ??
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Rajeev Jassal Aug 9, 2016
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I never thought about that Shreekant. Let me see if I can find that
information for you..
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Nick Sep 1, 2016
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Can you please tell that Who decide that 30 or 40 or 50 state
should ratify or this much % of world tonnage to ratify the
convention , for the convention to enter in force? For a particular
convention how this figures are decided and who decide this?
Awaiting reply eagerly....Thanx
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Rajeev Jassal Sep 7, 2016

Hi Nick..It is decided when the protocol for the convention is


drafted. The member states of the committee discuss all aspects
of the draft convention including the criteria for the ratification /
in-force process. The idea of identifying a number for the states
and tonnage to ratify a convention for it to enter into force is to
have a majority in every sense. If the convention is to enter into
force by tacit acceptance, the required tonnage will be more (say
more than 50%) and if the convention is to enter into force with
actual consent of the states, the required tonnage is set at a
lower percentage (like 35% in Ballast water convention).
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Rahul Sep 4, 2016

Sir, I am confused with the definition of Protocol. Could you please explain
what a protocol is?
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Rajeev Jassal Sep 7, 2016

Protocol are the set of rules of conduct. These are the rules as to
how each party is supposed to behave with respect to a
convention. For example, protocol to SOLAS convention are the
rules for all the parties detailing general obligation, how the
amendments will be brought etc
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James Victory Sep 17, 2016

sir, can you please illuminate me on the definition of the following terms--
treaty, protocols, codes and memoradum of understanding relating to IMO.
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Rajeev Jassal Jan 28, 2017

Yes James, I am currently writing a blog on that and you will find
it soon..

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Sadat Jan 20, 2017


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Sir, can u tell me a chemical tanker requied Clc insurance and if a big
pollution occured, is it coverable by clc or need LOF
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No..A chemical tanker do not require CLC insurance as CLC is you...
only for oil pollutions. But considering most of the chemical
tankers are also designated to carry oil, you will find these ships
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to have CLC certificate. For chemical pollutions, HNS convention
has been adopted by IMO but not yet ratified.
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Nikola Jan 28, 2017
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Sir, can you help me with understanding of meaning of circular. If the certain
circular is adopted by the IMO committee is this circular automatically
binding in the county, party of the convention with this circular is associated
with. On the other hand, if certain circular is adopted in national legislation /
rules regulating this matter, should we apply rule directly from circular or
from the national rule which included requirements from circulat? Thank you!
Reply

Rajeev Jassal Jan 28, 2017

Circulars only clarifies rules. Circulars are released when IMO


committees feels the need for better interpretation of any
regulation. Circulars are not rules or regulation in itself. So
Circulars do not need to be adopted or ratified.
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Shivkumar Patil Feb 9, 2017

Very nicely explained such useful topic. THANK YOU RAJIV SIR
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Rajeev Jassal Feb 10, 2017

Glad you found it useful Shivkumar..

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Devendra Nemade Feb 12, 2017

Excellent explanation , Keep it up sir ..


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Rajeev Jassal Feb 13, 2017

Thank you Devendra..


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Peyman Mar 6, 2017

Excellent explanation. Appreciated if you clarify the following; A.1021(26)


adopted on 2 December 2009. It is not mandatory for all ships, isnt it?
Because acceptance still is pending In other word, it is mandatory only for
the governments who gave positive vote for the resolution. Please clarify,
Thanks!
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adopted and not ratified yet, it is not mandatory to anyone. Once


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Tariq Mar 20, 2017 We are still learning and so w


Very informative and clearly defined stuff. Sir Capt Rajeev if you dont mind you...
plz mail me your whatsapp number, i would like to ask some more qurries
related to shipping, not this topic. Thank Enter your name here...
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Rajeev Jassal Mar 28, 2017


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krishna Mar 24, 2017

thats a brilliant article sir, can you please throw some light upon how the
resolutions of london convention and london protocol are passed. it would
be of a great help
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Rajeev Jassal Mar 28, 2017

The process of Ratification of london convention is same as with


any other convention...
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Manmohan Apr 10, 2017

Sir,Is the proposal,adoption,acceptance of resolution is same as for


convention. pls explain procedure for convention to come in force.

Reply

Rajeev Jassal Apr 11, 2017

The procedure for proposal, adoption and acceptance of a


resolution and that of a convention have many similarities. The
difference is that while resolution can be accepted by "Tacit
Acceptance" method, acceptance of a new convention is only
after certain percentage of tonnage and certain number of flag
states have ratified the convention by submitting the acceptance
document to the IMO.
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Mayur More Apr 25, 2017

Sir thanks for making us understand the concept of convention and how to
amend a convention. My doubt is , other than the two methods mentioned n
the article about how to amend a convention, is there any other way to
amend , is Protocol a way to amend a convention .I would appreciate if you
could clear my doubt.
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Rajeev Jassal Apr 30, 2017

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of ratification of a convention. A flag state may be party to the


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convention at the same time they may not ratify the protocol.
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captain safey eldin salah May 10, 2017 LOGIN

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) NOT MEPC (for Maritime We are still learning and so w
environment pollution committee). and by the way very important article nice you...
work.

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