Global Marine Distress

Under the former heading its most significant contribution has been the up-dating of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) which began in 1960 and has been an on-going process since that time. Other major safety initiatives include: International Mobile Satellite Organization [1970]. Safety Training & Certification of Watchkeepers (STCW) [1997]. International Ship Management Code (ISM) [1998]. Global Marine Distress & Safety System (GMDSS) [1999]. In environmental protection the MARPOL convention has been dealing with the problem of Maritime Pollution since 1973 (see lesson 6 of this course). A visit to IMO’s website is recommended to all students seeking more information about this indispensable organisation. This is a part of the International Law Association  and it was in 1921 that the member-states of this organisation met in the Hague to consider the question of introducing uniformity into the vexed question of shipowners’ legal obligations towards cargo-owners. By 1924 the Hague Rules  were devised. Evolutionary trends in shipping, especially the advent of containerisation meant that the Hague Rules needed amending and in 1968 a Protocol produced what are now known as the Hague-Visby Rules.  A further, minor, revision took place in 1979 when it was agreed that expressing the limitation of liabilities in terms of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) was more easily translated into national currencies than the Poincaré gold franc which was in the original 1968 version of the Rules. The CMI is the oldest international organization in the maritime field, it was formally established in 1897. It was an outgrowth of the International Law Association (ILA) which as early as 1888 was showing enthusiasm for handing all its maritime interests to a specialist organisation.  The Belgian government offered to host this new body and in agreement with the ILA, the CMI issued a circular letter in July 1986.  In this letter it explained that the CMI would be made up of jurists, mercantile and insurance interests, shipowners and all others concerned with maritime commerce.  It went on to state that its first task would be the pursuit of unification in the international codification of the law relating to collision at sea (see Lesson four) of this course.