Norway and Honduras support expansion of IMO Council
The support of 117 IMO member states is required for the amendments to the Convention on the International Maritime Organization to enter into force.
Norway became the first country to accept amendments to expand the size of the Council, extend the terms of its members and recognize three additional language texts as authentic versions of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization – followed by Honduras accepting the amendments on July 15, 2022.
The amendments, which
were adopted at the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly held in December 2021, must be accepted by two-thirds of the IMO membership (117 Member States based on the current number of 175 Member States) to come into force.
Norway’s instrument of acceptance, signed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, was presented to IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim on 14 July 2022 by Ms. Siv Christin Gaalaas, Specialty Director, Regulation International Maritime and Polar Affairs, Department of Maritime Policy and Coastal Development, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim said: “I am very pleased that Norway has become the first Member State to deposit its instrument of acceptance of amendments to the IMO Convention. I hope we will see other Member States follow suit in the coming months and show their support for the reform of the IMO Council. IMO must have a truly representative, balanced, diverse and effective Council given the global nature of our vital work. “
IMO Council Size
The current IMO Council is made up of 40 members, last elected in December 2021. See the
current list of Board members here.
It consists of 10 Member States elected in categories (a) and (b) and 20 Member States in category (c).
The categories are:
(a) – States having the greatest interest in providing international maritime transport services;
(b) – States having the greatest interest in international maritime commerce each;
(c) – States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have particular interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure representation of all major geographical areas of the world.
Enlarging the size of the IMO Council would see an additional 12 seats allocated to categories (a) and (b) each and 28 seats to category (c).
Term of office of members
Under the amendments, Council members would hold office until the end of the next two consecutive regular sessions of the Assembly, after which they would be eligible for re-election. Since assemblies are held every two years, this would generally mean that members would serve a four-year term.
Additional Authentic Languages
In the spirit of multilingualism adopted by the United Nations system, the IMO Assembly adopted an amendment to the IMO Convention, so that Arabic, Chinese and Russian (which are already the official languages of the Organization) will be added as authentic texts of the IMO Convention, supplementing the current authentic texts in English, French and Spanish.
Background to the IMO Council
The IMO Council is elected by the Assembly. The Council is the executive body of IMO and is responsible, under the aegis of the Assembly, for overseeing the work of the Organization. Between sessions of the Assembly, the Council exercises all the functions of the Assembly, except the function of making recommendations to governments on maritime safety and the prevention of pollution which is reserved to the Assembly by Article 15 (j) of the Convention.
The other functions of the Board are to:
coordinate the activities of the organs of the Organization;
examine the draft program of work and the budgetary estimates of the Organization and submit them to the Assembly;
receive reports and proposals from committees and other bodies and submit them to the Assembly and Member States, together with comments and recommendations, as appropriate;
appoint the Secretary General, subject to the approval of the Assembly;
enter into agreements or arrangements concerning the relations of the Organization with other organizations, subject to the approval of the Assembly.
History of the IMO Council
The IMO Council has seen a number of enlargements since its establishment with 16 Member States in March 1958, following the entry into force of the 1948 IMO Convention.
The most recent enlargement is the result of the 1993 amendments which entered into force in 2002 and increased the size of the Council to 40, with groups (a) and (b) increased to 10 and group (c) to 20 Member States.
Previous extensions came into effect in 1984 – when Council size was increased to 32, with 16 places for group (c); in 1978, when the composition of the Council was increased to 24 Member States by enlarging group (c) to 12 Member States; and in 1967 – when the IMO adopted an amendment to the IMO Convention which increased the size of the Council to 18.