The IMO Council has approved draft amendments to the IMO Convention to expand the size of the Council, extend the term of its members and recognise three additional language texts as authentic versions of the IMO Convention
The proposals will require acceptance by two-thirds of the IMO membership (or 116 member states) for entry into force until which time the current structure will remain unchanged. The proposed reforms will see the IMO Council increase by 12 member states, from its current 40 members to 52. Expanding the size of the IMO Council would see 12 seats allocated to Categories (a) and (b) each and 28 seats to Category (c). The categories are:
(a) States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services.
(b) States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade each.
(c) States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.
Changes to term lengths under the approved amendments will see council members remain in their roles until the end of the next two consecutive regular sessions of the Assembly, after which they would be eligible for re-election. As Assemblies are usually held every two years, this would usually mean that members would serve a four-year term.
Finally, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, (which are already official IMO languages) will be added as authentic texts of the IMO Convention, supplementing the current authentic texts in English, French and Spanish.
The IMO Council has seen a number of expansions since its original entry into force with 16 member states in March 1958, with the most recent expansion a result of the 1993 amendments that came 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.
The current approvals were made at the 33rd extraordinary session of the Council, which was held virtually on 8 April 2021. The amendments will now be transmitted to the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly, to be held from 6 to 15 December 2021, for consideration with a view to adoption.
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