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IMO instruments

 • Conventions;
 • Protocols;
 • Amendments;
 • Recommendations, Codes and
Guidelines; and
 • Resolutions.
 * Amendments, guidelines and
other measures are promulgated by
the main committees
 (including the MSC and MEPC) by
means of circulars, e.g. MSC/Circ.
666: Loading and unloading of bulk
 Conventions
 - are multilateral treaty documents.
 - are the chief instruments of IMO,
being binding legal instruments
 regulating some aspect of maritime affairs of
major concern to IMO, e.g. safety of life at sea
or marine pollution.
 - are identified by a name and the year
of adoption by the Assembly,
 e.g. the “International Convention on the
Safety of Life at Sea, 1974”.
 - may have detailed technical provisions
attached in annexes,
 e.g. the six annexes to the MARPOL Convention,
each dealing with a different aspect of marine
 - may also have detailed technical provisions in
an associated code,
 e.g. the LSA Code, which contains technical
provisions of equipment required under the
provisions of SOLAS.
 - are commonly referred to by a single-word
 e.g. “COLREG”, more correctly called “COLREG
1972” to indicate the year of adoption
 A Member State which ratifies or accedes
to an IMO convention is obliged to give
effect to it by making its requirements
part of its national law.
 Ratification involves a dual obligation for
a Member State;
 a formal commitment to apply the provisions
of the convention, and
 an indication of willingness to accept a
measure of international supervision.
 Protocols
 - are important treaty instruments
made when major amendments
are required to be made to a
convention which,
 although already adopted, has not yet
entered into force.
 * The SOLAS Convention, 1974 has been
amended twice by means of protocols:
 by the 1978 SOLAS Protocol (which entered
into force on 1 May 1981) and
 by the 1988 SOLAS Protocol (which entered
into force on 3 February 2000 and replaced
and abrogated the 1978 Protocol as between
Parties to the 1988 Protocol).
 The combined instruments, formerly
known as SOLAS 74/78, are now
collectively called SOLAS 74/88.
 * The MARPOL Convention, 1973 has also been
amended by means of protocols.
 The 1978 MARPOL Protocol made major
changes to MARPOL in the wake of several large-
scale pollution incidents in the 1970s, even
though the 1973 Convention had not yet come
into force;
 it also absorbed the parent Convention and
ensured that the combined Convention/Protocol
instrument (called MARPOL 73/78) would enter
into force at an earlier date than the parent
Convention would have done alone. (MARPOL
73/78 came into force on 2 October 1983.)
 The 1997 MARPOL Protocol (containing
Annex VI – Regulations for the Prevention
of Air Pollution from Ships)
 was adopted on 26 September 1997 and
 will enter into force 12 months after being
accepted by at least 15 States with not
less than 50% of world merchant shipping
tonnage. (After that date MARPOL 73/78
may be referred to as MARPOL 73/78/97.)
 * The International Convention on
Load Lines, 1966 (LL 66) has been
amended by a 1988 Protocol (which
entered into force on 3 February
2000) and may now be referred to
as LL 66/88.

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