The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to address maritime corruption by including this important issue in its work programme for the Facilitation Committee. The decision to include an anti-corruption agenda came at the latest meeting of the IMO’s Facilitation Committee (FAL) in response to a submission from Liberia, Marshall Islands, Norway, United Kingdom, United States and Vanuatu. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) co-sponsored the submission along with a number of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said: “Corruption erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. Corruption impedes investment, with consequent effects on growth and jobs. This is a global issue but we all need to work to eradicate corrupt practices. We are pleased that the IMO will be working to address this important issue and we will support the member states in stamping out this scourge.”
According to the Maritime Anti-Corruption Networks anonymous reporting mechanism, which was set up in 2011, there have been over 28,000 incidents already reported, confirming that this is a widespread issue.
Addressing the IMO’s Facilitation Committee the Director of Regulatory Affairs at the International Chamber of Shipping, Chris Oliver, said: “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.
“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.”
It is hoped that having the issue of maritime corruption included in the work of the Facilitation Committee, particularly in the context of the review and revision of the Annex to the FAL Convention, will result in the development of IMO guidelines or an inclusive IMO Code of Best Practice to implement and embrace anti-corruption practices and procedures.
Any such action would align IMO regulations and requirements for the maritime industry with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), adopted in 2003, which entered into force in 2005, and which currently has 186 Parties.
The agreement of the IMO to include the anti-corruption agenda in its work programme follows a submission made to the 42nd meeting of the IMO Facilitation Committee in June 2018 by the ICS and a group of NGO’s asking for the issue to be addressed by member states.
Mr Platten concluded: “The industry is acutely aware of the problem and wants to work with member states to ensure that robust anti-corruption guidelines are put in place.”