IMO begins new anti-corruption drive

IMO MSC98. Credit: IMO

The IMO has moved to address corruption in the maritime industry via a work programme for its Facilitation Committee (FAL) agreed at the body’s 43rd meeting.

The measure comes in response to a request co-signed by the Marshall Islands, Liberia, Vanatu, United Kingdom, United States and Norway, and co-sponsored by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO.

With the end goal of establishing an IMO code of anti-corruption best practices, ICS says the development would bring the IMO in line with other UN bodies covered in the 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which entered force in 2005, with 186 signatories.

Some 28,000 incidents of corruption have been reported since the inception of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Networks anonymous reporting mechanism in 2011.

“We are all aware that corruption in the maritime sector exists in many areas and as we have heard from the document introduction, corrupt practices, particularly with respect to the ship/shore interface, can lead to interruptions to normal operations, can incur higher operational costs for the shipowner, and can have an impact on seafarers’ well-being,” said ICS Director of Regulatory Affairs Chris Oliver. “In addition to the potential consequences for ship owners and seafarers, it should not be underestimated the impact it can have on trade, investment, social and economic development of ports, local communities and even Member States themselves.”

Meanwhile, BIMCO has developed an Anti-Corruption Clause for Charter Parties giving recourse when confronted with illegal demands. “No less than 23 countries and international organisations supported the anti-corruption paper, marking a new step towards a stronger fight against corruption in our industry,” said BIMCO Head of Maritime Technology & Regulation Aron Sørensen. “We are very pleased that the IMO will now discuss the issue of maritime corruption in the FAL Convention and that the IMO will now come up with guidance to help our members by addressing corruption.”

Last year, Transparency International released a report, Governance at the International Maritime Organisation, which criticised the prevalence of open registers – ‘flags of convenience’ – and demanded that restrictions on journalists at IMO be lifted “including the provision that forbids them from naming speakers in open Plenary without consent” as well as “establishing a meaningful link between ships and their country of registry”.