International Legal Regime
The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code
Amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS)
The SUA Treaties
Review of the SUA Convention and its Protocol
IMO global programmes on maritime security
International Legal Regime
A new, comprehensive security regime for international shipping entered into force in July 2004 following the adoption by a week-long Diplomatic Conference of a series of measures to strengthen maritime security and prevent and suppress acts of terrorism against shipping. The Conference, held at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) from 9 to 13 December, was of crucial significance not only to the international maritime community but the world community as a whole, given the pivotal role shipping plays in the conduct of world trade. The measures represent the culmination of just over a year's intense work by IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and its Intersessional Working Group on Maritime Security since the terrorist atrocities in the United States in September 2001.
The Conference adopted a number of amendments to the 1974 Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), the most far-reaching of which enshrines the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). The Code contains detailed security-related requirements for Governments, port authorities and shipping companies in a mandatory section (Part A), together with a series of guidelines about how to meet these requirements in a second, non-mandatory section (Part B). The Conference also adopted a series of resolutions designed to add weight to the amendments, encourage the application of the measures to ships and port facilities not covered by the Code and pave the way for future work on the subject.
The Conference has been referred to in the United Nations General Assembly. At its current session, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on "Oceans and the law of the sea", which specifically welcomed initiatives at the International Maritime Organization to counter the threat to maritime security from terrorism and encouraged States fully to support this endeavour.
The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (1)
The Code took effect on July 2004 upon entry into force of the new ChapterXI-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended.
In essence, the Code takes the approach that ensuring the security of ships and port facilities is basically a risk management activity and that to determine what security measures are appropriate, an assessment of the risks must be made in each particular case.
The purpose of the Code is to provide a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities.
To begin the process, each Contracting Government will conduct port facility security assessments. Security assessments will have three essential components. First, they must identify and evaluate important assets and infrastructures that are critical to the port facility as well as those areas or structures that, if damaged, could cause significant loss of life or damage to the port facility's economy or environment. Then, the assessment must identify the actual threats to those critical assets and infrastructure in order to prioritise security measures. Finally, the assessment must address vulnerability of the port facility by identifying its weaknesses in physical security, structural integrity, protection systems, procedural policies, communications systems, transportation infrastructure, utilities, and other areas within a port facility that may be a likely target. Once this assessment has been completed, Contracting Government can accurately evaluate risk.
This risk management concept is embodied in the Code through a number of minimum functional security requirements for ships and port facilities. For ships, these requirements will include:
· ship security plans
· ship security officers
· company security officers
· certain onboard equipment
For port facilities, the
requirements will include:
· port facility security plans
· port facility security officers
· certain security equipment
In addition the
requirements for ships and for port facilities include:
· monitoring and controlling access
· monitoring the activities of people and cargo
· ensuring security communications are readily available
Because each ship (or class of ship) and each port facility present different risks, the method in which they will meet the specific requirements of this Code will be determined and eventually be approved by the Administration or Contracting Government, as the case may be.
In order to communicate the threat at a port facility or for a ship, the Contracting Government will set the appropriate security level. Security levels 1, 2, and 3 correspond to normal, medium, and high threat situations, respectively. The security level creates a link between the ship and the port facility, since it triggers the implementation of appropriate security measures for the ship and for the port facility.
The preamble to the Code states that, as threat increases, the only logical counteraction is to reduce vulnerability. The Code provides several ways to reduce vulnerabilities. Ships are subject to a system of survey, verification, certification, and control to ensure that their security measures are implemented. This system is based on a considerably expanded control system as stipulated in the 1974 Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Port facilities are also required to report certain security related information to the Contracting Government concerned, which in turn will submit a list of approved port facility security plans, including location and contact details to IMO.
The Company and the Ship
Under the terms of the Code, shipping companies are required to designate a Company Security Officer for the Company and a Ship Security Officer for each of its ships. The Company Security Officer's responsibilities include ensuring that a Ship Security Assessment is properly carried out, that Ship Security Plans are prepared and submitted for approval by (or on behalf of) the Administration and thereafter is placed on board each ship.
The Ship Security Plan should indicate the operational and physical security measures the ship itself should take to ensure it always operates at security level 1. The plan should also indicate the additional, or intensified, security measures the ship itself can take to move to and operate at security level 2 when instructed to do so. Furthermore, the plan should indicate the possible preparatory actions the ship could take to allow prompt response to instructions that may be issued to the ship at security level 3.
Ships have to carry an International Ship Security Certificate indicating that they comply with the requirements of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and part A of the ISPS Code. When a ship is at a port or is proceeding to a port of Contracting Government, the Contracting Government has the right, under the provisions of regulation XI-2/9, to exercise various control and compliance measures with respect to that ship. The ship is subject to port State control inspections but such inspections will not normally extend to examination of the Ship Security Plan itself except in specific circumstances.
The ship may, also, be subject to additional control measures if the Contracting Government exercising the control and compliance measures has reason to believe that the security of the ship has, or the port facilities it has served have, been compromised.
The Port Facility
Each Contracting Government has to ensure completion of a Port Facility Security Assessment for each port facility within its territory that serves ships engaged on international voyages. The Port Facility Security Assessment is fundamentally a risk analysis of all aspects of a port facility's operation in order to determine which parts of it are more susceptible, and/or more likely, to be the subject of attack. Security risk is seen a function of the threat of an attack coupled with the vulnerability of the target and the consequences of an attack.
On completion of the analysis, it will be possible to produce an overall assessment of the level of risk. The Port Facility Security Assessment will help determine which port facilities are required to appoint a Port Facility Security Officer and prepare a Port Facility Security Plan. This plan should indicate the operational and physical security measures the port facility should take to ensure that it always operates at security level 1. The plan should also indicate the additional, or intensified, security measures the port facility can take to move to and operate at security level 2 when instructed to do so. It should also indicate the possible preparatory actions the port facility could take to allow prompt response to the instructions that may be issued at security level 3.
Ships using port facilities may be subject to port State control inspections and additional control measures. The relevant authorities may request the provision of information regarding the ship, its cargo, passengers and ship's personnel prior to the ship's entry into port. There may be circumstances in which entry into port could be denied.
of Contracting Governments
Contracting Governments have various responsibilities, including setting the applicable security level, approving the Ship Security Plan and relevant amendments to a previously approved plan, verifying the compliance of ships with the provisions of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and part A of the ISPS Code and issuing the International Ship Security Certificate, determining which port facilities located within their territory are required to designate a Port Facility Security Officer, ensuring completion and approval of the Port Facility Security Assessment and the Port Facility Security Plan and any subsequent amendments; and exercising control and compliance measures. It is also responsible for communicating information to the International Maritime Organization and to the shipping and port industries.
Contracting Governments can designate, or establish, Designated Authorities within Government to undertake their security duties and allow Recognised Security Organisations to carry out certain work with respect to port facilities, but the final decision on the acceptance and approval of this work should be given by the Contracting Government or the Designated Authority.
International Ship & Port Facility Security Code and Solas Amendments 2002. London, IMO, 2003 Sales number :I116E ISBN 92-801-5149-5
the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS)
The Conference adopted a series of Amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, aimed at enhancing maritime security on board ships and at ship/port interface areas. Among other things, these amendments create a new SOLAS chapter dealing specifically with maritime security, which in turn contains the mandatory requirement for ships to comply with the ISPS Code.
Modifications to Chapter V (Safety of Navigation) contain a new timetable for the fitting of Automatic Information Systems (AIS). Ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of 300 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 50,000 gross tonnage, will be required to fit AIS not later than the first safety equipment survey after 1 July 2004 or by 31 December 2004, whichever occurs earlier. Ships fitted with AIS shall maintain AIS in operation at all times except where international agreements, rules or standards provide for the protection of navigational information."
The existing SOLAS Chapter XI (Special measures to enhance maritime safety) has been re-numbered as Chapter XI-1. Regulation XI-1/3 is modified to require ships' identification numbers to be permanently marked in a visible place either on the ship's hull or superstructure. Passenger ships should carry the marking on a horizontal surface visible from the air. Ships should also be marked with their ID numbers internally.
And a new regulation XI-1/5 requires ships to be issued with a Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR) which is intended to provide an on-board record of the history of the ship. The CSR shall be issued by the Administration and shall contain information such as the name of the ship and of the State whose flag the ship is entitled to fly, the date on which the ship was registered with that State, the ship's identification number, the port at which the ship is registered and the name of the registered owner(s) and their registered address. Any changes shall be recorded in the CSR so as to provide updated and current information together with the history of the changes.
New Chapter XI-2
(Special measures to enhance maritime security)
A brand-new Chapter XI-2 (Special measures to enhance maritime security) is added after the renumbered Chapter XI-1.
This chapter applies to passenger ships and cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards, including high speed craft, mobile offshore drilling units and port facilities serving such ships engaged on international voyages.
Regulation XI-2/3 of the new chapter enshrines the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code (ISPS Code). Part A of this Code will become mandatory and part B contains guidance as to how best to comply with the mandatory requirements.
The regulation requires Administrations to set security levels and ensure the provision of security level information to ships entitled to fly their flag. Prior to entering a port, or whilst in a port, within the territory of a Contracting Government, a ship shall comply with the requirements for the security level set by that Contracting Government, if that security level is higher than the security level set by the Administration for that ship.
Regulation XI-2/4 confirms the role of the Master in exercising his professional judgement over decisions necessary to maintain the security of the ship. It says he shall not be constrained by the Company, the charterer or any other person in this respect.
Regulation XI-2/5 requires all ships to be provided with a ship security alert system, according to a strict timetable that will see most vessels fitted by 2004 and the remainder by 2006. When activated the ship security alert system shall initiate and transmit a ship-to-shore security alert to a competent authority designated by the Administration, identifying the ship, its location and indicating that the security of the ship is under threat or it has been compromised. The system will not raise any alarm on-board the ship. The ship security alert system shall be capable of being activated from the navigation bridge and in at least one other location.
Regulation XI-2/6 covers requirements for port facilities, providing among other things for Contracting Governments to ensure that port facility security assessments are carried out and that port facility security plans are developed, implemented and reviewed in accordance with the ISPS Code.
Other regulations in this chapter cover the provision of information to IMO, the control of ships in port, (including measures such as the delay, detention, restriction of operations including movement within the port, or expulsion of a ship from port), and the specific responsibility of Companies.
Resolutions adopted by the conference
The conference adopted the following 11 resolutions:
Conference resolution 1 (Adoption of amendments to the annex to the international convention for the safety of life at sea, 1974, as amended
Conference resolution 2 (Adoption of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code)
Conference resolution 3 (Further work by the international maritime organization pertaining to the enhancement of maritime security)
Conference resolution 4 (Future amendments to Chapters XI-1 and XI-2 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention on special measures to enhance maritime safety and security)
Conference resolution 5 (Promotion of technical co-operation and assistance)
Conference resolution 6 (Early implementation of the special measures to enhance maritime security)
Conference resolution 7 (Establishment of appropriate measures to enhance the security of ships, port facilities, mobile offshore drilling units on location and fixed and floating platforms not covered by chapter XI-2 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention)
Conference resolution 8 (Enhancement of security in co-operation with the International Labour Organization.
Conference resolution 9 (Enhancement of security in co-operation with the World Customs Organization)
Conference resolution 10 (Early implementation of long-range ships' identification and tracking).
Conference resolution 11 (Human element-related aspects and shore leave for seafarers)
FAQ on ISPS Code and maritime security
Access ISPS Code database in the IMO Global Shipping Information System (GSIS)
Circulars relating to maritime security:
MSC/Circ.1109/Rev.1 False security alerts and distress/security double alerts
MSC/Circ.1133 Reminder of the obligation to notify flag States when exercising control and compliance measures
MSC/Circ.1132 Guidance relating to the Implementation of SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code
MSC/Circ.1131 Interim Guidance on voluntary self-assessment by SOLAS Contracting Governments and by port facilities
MSC/Circ.1130 Guidance to masters, Companies and duly authorized officers on the requirements relating to the submission of security-related information prior to the entry of a ship into port
MSC/Circ.1111 Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code (English)
MSC/Circ.1111 Recommandations intérimaires sur les mesures liées au contrôle et au respect des dispositions qui visent à renforcer la sûreté maritime (Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code in French)
MSC/Circ.1111 Orientaciones provisionales sobre las medidas de control y cumplimiento para incrementar la protección marítima (Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code in Spanish)
This circular includes:
MSC/Circ.1104 Implementation of SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code
MSC/Circ.1074 Measures to enhance maritime security - Interim guidelines for the authorization of recognized security organizations acting on behalf of the Administration and/or designated authority of a contracting Government
MSC/Circ.1073 Measures to enhance maritime security - Directives for Maritime
Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCCS) on acts of violence against ships
MSC/Circ.1072 Guidance on provision of ship security alert systems
MSC/Circ.1097 Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code
MSC/Circ.1067 Early implementation of measures to enhance maritime security
IMO global programmes on maritime security
Under the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme there are a range of technical assistance activities planned within two global programmes, including support for security seminars/workshops and train-the-trainer courses.
IMO has urged Member States and industry to support the International Maritime Security Trust Fund and the two global programmes, in particular with regards to making experts with practical experience of the implementation of security measures available to assist in future technical co-operation projects for capacity-building.
to organize piracy and security seminar in Yemen - 13/12/2004
Briefing 39/2004: April 2005 high-level, sub-regional seminar on maritime security and prevention of piracy and armed robbery against ships
IMO to take Straits initiative - 22/11/2004
Briefing 36/2004: High-level conference on Straits of Malacca and Singapore to be held in 2005
Maritime security - IMO Train-the-Trainer courses to be launched in Egypt - 13/9/2004
Briefing 30/2004: Launch of first of eighteen courses under the auspices of the Global Programme on Maritime Security
IMO's Global Programme on Maritime and Port Security - the work continues - 17/6/2004
Briefing 23/2004: Security technical assistance programme in full swing
The SUA Treaties (2)
The Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988 and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, 1988 (the SUA treaties).
Apart from revision of practical preventative measures advocated by IMO, it is also important to ensure that criminals who have perpetrated acts of violence at sea be properly brought to trial and punished. IMO's Legal Committee is reviewing the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988 and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, 1988 (the SUA treaties).
The main purpose of the SUA convention is to ensure that appropriate judicial action is taken against persons committing unlawful acts against ships, which include the seizure of ships by force, acts of violence against persons on board ships, and the placing of devices on board a ship which are likely to destroy or damage it. The convention obliges Contracting Governments either to extradite or prosecute alleged offenders. The Protocol provides similar regulations relating to
fixed platforms located on the Continental Shelf.
In November 1986 the Governments of Austria, Egypt and Italy proposed that IMO prepare a convention on the subject of unlawful acts against the safety of maritime navigation and submitted a draft proposed convention which would aim to fill the gap in the present system regarding the suppression of such acts. The proposed convention would provide for a comprehensive suppression of unlawful acts committed against the safety of maritime navigation which endanger innocent human lives, jeopardize the safety of persons and property, seriously affect the operation of maritime services and thus are of grave concern to the international community as a whole.
As a result, in March 1988, a conference in Rome adopted the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) (2) It includes provisions for the absolute and unconditional application of the principle either to punish or to extradite persons who commit or who are alleged to have committed offences specified in the convention.
A protocol extends the provisions of the convention to unlawful acts against fixed platforms located on the Continental Shelf (Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, 1988).
The two instruments both entered into force on 1 March 1992.
about unlawful acts which threaten shipping since the 1980s
Concern about unlawful acts which threaten the safety of ships and the security of their passengers and crews has been addressed by IMO since the 1980s.
Pursuant to the Achille Lauro incident in 1983, IMO adopted Assembly resolution A.545(13) Measures to prevent acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, to address the specific problems relating to piracy and armed robbery.
In 1985, IMO’s 14th Assembly adopted resolution A.584(14) on Measures to prevent unlawful acts which threaten the safety of ships and the security of their passengers and crews.
Resolution A. 584(14) notes “with great concern the danger to passengers and crews resulting from the increasing number of incidents involving piracy, armed robbery and other unlawful acts against or on board ships, including small craft, both at anchor and under way”.
The resolution invited the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to develop detailed and practical technical measures to ensure the security of passengers and crews on board ships, taking into account the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the development of standards and recommended practices for airport and aircraft security.
In December 1985 the United Nations General Assembly called upon IMO “to study the problem of terrorism aboard or against ships with a view to making recommendations on appropriate measures”.
In September 1986, the MSC approved MSC/Circ.443 on Measures to prevent unlawful acts against passengers and crew on board ships, intended for application to passenger ships engaged on international voyages of 24 hours or more and the port facilities which service them.
The measures state that Governments, port authorities, administrations, shipowners, shipmasters and crews should take appropriate measures to prevent unlawful acts which may threaten passengers and crews. The measures stress the need for port facilities and individual ships to have a security plan and appoint a security officer. The measures describe in detail the way in which security surveys should be conducted and the security measures and procedures which should be adopted. Another section covers security training.
In 1996, the MSC approved
on Passenger Ferry Security gives recommendations on security measures for
international passenger ferries and ports, which is aimed at ferry journeys
shorter than 24 hours.
Review of the SUA
Convention and its Protocol
A diplomatic Conference to adopt amendments to the 1988 SUA Convention and Protocol will be held in October 2005, IMO's Legal Committee agreed at its 89th session from 25 to 29 October 2004.
The main purpose of the SUA Convention is to ensure that appropriate action is taken against persons committing unlawful acts against ships. These acts include the seizure of ships by force: acts of violence against persons on board ships and the placing of devices on board a ship which are likely to destroy or damage it. The Convention obliges Contracting Governments either to extradite or prosecute alleged offenders. Similar provisions are contained in the SUA Protocol, relating to unlawful acts against fixed platforms located on the continental shelf.
The 2005 Conference will consider the adoption of two Protocols incorporating substantial amendments aimed at strengthening the SUA treaties in order to provide an appropriate response to the increasing risks posed to maritime navigation by international terrorism.
In preparation for the October 2005 diplomatic Conference, the Legal Committee agreed to hold a second session of its working group on the revision of the SUA Convention and Protocol (from 31 January to 4 February 2005), followed by a two-week Legal Committee meeting from 18 to 29 April 2005 to continue its consideration of the draft Protocols (as well as to consider other Legal Committee issues).
Proposed amendments to the treaties in the revised draft Protocols include a substantial broadening of the range of offences included in Article 3 of the SUA Convention and the introduction of provisions for boarding vessels suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in Article 8.
Work on the revision of the SUA treaties followed the adoption in 2001 of Assembly resolution A.924(22) which called for a review of measures and procedures to prevent acts of terrorism which threaten the security of passengers and crews an the safety of ships. The SUA amendments will complement the International Ship and Port Facilities Security (ISPS) Code, which entered into force in July 2004, by providing a legal basis for the arrest, detention and extradition of terrorists in the unfortunate event that a terrorist attack against shipping nevertheless occurs.
Convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of Navigation (SUA) 1988. London, IMO, 1988, (IMO-462E) Language(s) : E,F,S,A.C.R
This publication contains the text of the Final Act of the Conference as well as the texts of the two treaty instruments adopted by the Conference, namely:
- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation
- Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on
the Continental Shelf. (SUA PROT)
Adoption: Rome, 10 March 1988
Entry into force: 1 March 1992
Authentic texts: A/C/E/F/R/S
Citations : USTreaty Doc 101-1; UK Treaty Series 64 (1995), Cmn 2949; UN Treaty Series : UNTS 29004; International Legal Materials : 27 ILM 672; Australian Treaty series : ATS 1993 No 10; Journal Officiel de la France : 1992 JOF 2980; Canadian Treaty Series: 1993 CanTs 10; Official Journal-Germany: 712 Vert A 890