Seaborne Trade

The provisions under UNCLOS are of a general nature. UNCLOS also provides that there must be a genuine link between the ship and the flag state but is silent on what constitutes the link. The United Nations Convention on the Conditions for the Registration of Ships which was adopted in 1986 was intended to fill the vacuum left by UNCLOS; it has yet to come into force. It is intended to lay down the obligations that a flag State has to assume in relation to the registration of ships in that State.  Its main provisions are as follows: It applies only to self-propelled sea-going ships of 500 GRT and above which are used in international seaborne trade for the transport of goods or passengers. The flag State must have an adequate and competent maritime administration and shall implement applicable international rules and standards (e.g. those of the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation). Owners or operators are adequately identifiable for the purpose of ensuring their full accountability. A State of registration has an option to comply with either the provisions on ownership or manning (or with both): Ownership – a flag State must provide in its law and regulations appropriate provisions for participation by that State or its nationals as owners of ships flying its flag or in the ownership of such ships and for the level of such participation. Manning – a State of registration shall observe the principle that a satisfactory part of the complement consisting of officers and crew of ships flying its flag be nationals or persons domiciled or lawfully in permanent residence in that State, either on a ship, company or fleet basis. A State of registration must ensure that the shipowning company or its subsidiary company or its principal place of business is established within its territory.  Otherwise there must be a representative or management person who shall be a national of that State. A State may register vessels chartered-in by a charterer in that State in conformity with the Convention.