The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced that meetings which were scheduled to be held in July, including the next regular session of the IMO Council, have now been postponed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, work has begun to prepare for a revised meeting programme for the remainder of 2020.
A priority list of meetings has been drawn up and will be considered by the Council at its thirty-second extraordinary session that will be held by correspondence from May to July. This follows the thirty-first session of the Council that took place, also by correspondence, in March to April.
The proposal for rescheduling meetings gives priority to a regular session of the IMO Council, followed by meetings of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) – which will be preceded by the 7th meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships – and to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).
Resuming physical meetings will depend on guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK Government, as well as the situation of IMO Member States.
In the meantime, the IMO Secretariat, in liaison with other UN agencies and bodies, is exploring the practicalities of holding virtual meetings, including multilingual meetings with simultaneous interpretation into the six official languages of the Organization.
The meetings which were scheduled to be held in July and have now been postponed are:
- the 124th session of the Council scheduled to take place from 29 June to 3 July 2020;
- the 7th session of the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments scheduled to take place from 20 to 24 July 2020; and
- the 16th meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters scheduled to take place from 6 to 10 July 2020 – however, for this meeting, alternative arrangements are currently under consideration, in consultation with ITU and the Chair of the Experts Group (see Circular Letter No.4265).
The postponements are in addition to those already announced previously, namely:
- the 7th session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 June 2020;
- the 70th session of the Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC), scheduled to take place from 15 to 18 June 2020.
- the 44th session of the Facilitation Committee (FAL), scheduled to take place from 20 to 24 April;
- the 102nd session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), scheduled to take place from 13 to 22 May.
- the 2nd meeting of the IMO Expert Group on Data Harmonization (IMO EG EGDH), scheduled to take place from 27 April to 1 May;
- the port symposium “A Holistic approach to standards for port operational data in maritime supply chains”, scheduled to take place on 30 April.
- the 7th meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, scheduled to take place from 23 to 27 March 2020;
- the 33rd meeting of the E&T Group (IMSBC), scheduled to take place from 23 to 27 March 2020;
- the 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), scheduled to take place from 30 March to 3 April 2020;
- the meeting of the Scientific Group of the London Convention and London Protocol scheduled to take place from 9 to 13 March 2020; and
- the 107th session of the Legal Committee (LEG), scheduled to take place from 16 to 20 March 2020.
IMO Member States have been advised by circular letter and email to diplomatic contact points.