As we informed before, after the relevant submissions from Ukrainian governmental structures and non-governmental organizations, including our Association, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) held an extraordinary session of its Council (C/ES.35) on 10 and 11 March to address the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
IMO Council adopted the resolution C/ES.35 and strongly condemned the Russia’s violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine, extending to its territorial waters, which was inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the purposes of IMO, and represented a grave danger to life and serious risk to safety of navigation and the marine environment. IMO deplored the attacks of Russia aimed at commercial vessels, their seizures, including Search-and-Rescue vessels, threatening the safety and welfare of seafarers and the marine environment.
IMO Council demanded Russia to cease its unlawful activities to ensure the safety and welfare of seafarers and the security of international shipping and the marine environment in all affected areas, and respect its obligations under relevant international treaties and conventions. Also IMO underscored the paramount importance of preserving the safety and welfare of seafarers and urged member States and observer organizations to provide maximum assistance to seafarers caught up in the conflict.
IMO Council underscored the need to preserve the security of international shipping and the maritime community, and the supply chains that sustain other nations, as well as supply chains providing necessary food and medicines to the people of Ukraine. IMO expressed its grave concern regarding the spillover effects of the military action in Ukraine on global shipping, and logistics and supply chains, in particular the impacts on the delivery of commodities and food to developing nations and the impacts on energy supplies; and highlighted that ships, seafarers and port workers engaged in legitimate trade should not be collateral victims in the political and military crisis.
IMO recalled that Ukraine must be afforded, without delay, all its rights in regard to the implementation of the instruments adopted within the framework of this Organization, as a flag State, port State and coastal State. Also IMO requested its committees to consider ways to enhance the efforts of Member States and observer organizations in supporting affected seafarers and commercial vessels and consider the implications of this situation for the implementation of the IMO’s instruments.
IMO Council agreed to encourage the establishment, as a provisional and urgent measure, of a blue safe maritime corridor to allow the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from the high-risk and affected areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to a safe place in order to protect the life of seafarers, ensure the mobilization and commercial navigation of vessels intending to use this corridor by avoiding military attacks and protecting and securing the maritime domain.
IMO Council welcomed the proposal that a number of steps should be taken to reduce the suffering of seafarers and their families, and pointed that as a priority, ships should be allowed to sail form the ports of Ukraine at the earliest opportunity without threat of attack. IMO stated, that for those ships that cannot leave immediately, or where it would be unsafe to do so due to the presence of sea mines or other hazards, humanitarian corridors should be set up that enable the safety of seafarers by allowing them to leave the conflict zone and return home, as appropriate; and seafarers affected by the conflict should be allowed free access to communications with their families. IMO stated that where port State control officers are presented with expired documentation, a pragmatic approach to the inspection should be taken, considering the exceptional nature of the situation.
Our Association is grateful to the International Maritime Organization for condemning Russian aggression and for taking urgent measures; we will continue our work in this direction.