During the 127th session of the IMO Council (C 127) held virtually from 11 to 15 July 2022, the Council endorsed the establishment of a standing Joint International Labour Organization (ILO)/IMO Tripartite Working Group (JTWG) to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element. The Group’s terms of reference were also endorsed.
The Council further endorsed the Maritime Safety Committee’s (MSC 106) instruction to the JTWG to “consider bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, taking into account information submitted by interested parties, with a view to providing recommendations for future steps, including the development of legislation, mechanisms and policies, and the launching of awareness campaigns by relevant stakeholders, aimed at reporting and addressing these matters”.
The Council endorsed the Legal Committee’s forwarding of draft guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases to the first meeting of the JTWG in December 2022 for further consideration and refinement. From 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, a total number of 95 new cases had been reported on the IMO/ILO Joint Database on Abandonment of Seafarers. During the first half of 2022, a further 74 cases were reported, thus alarmingly surpassing last yearʹs record of reported cases of abandonment.
The Council nominated Governments as IMO representatives to the JTWG, as follows:
- for the task concerning the guidelines for port State and flag State authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases: Argentina, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Philippines and United Kingdom; and
- for the task concerning bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment: Bahamas, France, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and United States.
It was noted that all other Member States may attend the discussions of the Group as observers.