New security measures for the international shipping community

On 1 July 2004 the new maritime security regulatory regime set out in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974 as amended, namely the new chapter XI-2 on Special measures to enhance maritime security and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code entered into force only 18 months after adoption by the SOLAS Conference in December 2002. Following the devastating terrorist acts of 11 September 2001 in the United States, the international community recognised the need to protect the international maritime transport sector against the threat of terrorism. IMO responded swiftly and firmly by developing these new requirements, which represent the culmination of co-operation between Governments, Government agencies, local administrations and shipping and port industries.

The new requirements form the international framework through which Governments, ships and port facilities can co-operate to detect and deter acts, which threaten security in the maritime transport sector. In order to determine what security measures are appropriate, Governments must assess the threat and evaluate the risk of a potential unlawful act. The ISPS Code provides a standardized, consistent framework for managing risk and permitting the meaningful exchange and evaluation of information between Contracting Governments, companies, port facilities, and ships. The requirements also include provisions, which establish the right of a State to impose control and compliance measures on ships in or intending to visit its ports. It also provides for Contracting Governments to take further action when relevant requirements are not met or when there are other clear grounds for taking such action. In addition, where a risk of attack has been identified, the coastal State concerned shall advise the ships concerned of the current security level; of any security measures that should be put in place by the ships concerned to protect themselves from attack; and of the security measures that the coastal State has decided to put in place.

The new requirements entered into force only recently and this paper also reports, notwithstanding the fact that Contracting Governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention were obliged to give full and complete effect to the requirement by the aforesaid date, on the status of their implementation, so far, both by ships and port facilities. It further discusses the consequences for the shipping and port industry, including human element factors as well as the financial aspects involved, and for the economy of a country of the failure to comply.

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