A paper describing the negative effect of maritime corruption was discussed at length at the 42nd session of the IMO’s Facilitation Committee (FAL 42) in June, with many calling for the IMO to play an active role in tackling corrupt practices.
IBIA was a co-sponsor of the document, FAL 42/16/3, seeking increased focus from IMO and individual Member States to take a stand against maritime corruption and to recognise the damaging effects it has on global trade and social and economic development.
FAL 42/16/3 had input from the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), a global business network established in 2011 working to eliminate corruption in the maritime supply chain in partnership with Governments and other stakeholders. IBIA has engaged with MACN and was proud to join multiple organisations as co-sponsors of the paper discussed at FAL 42.
It was clear from the ensuing comments that corruption is a real problem and a sensitive issue that is not often discussed at IMO. Several delegates spoke of ships being subjected to exorbitant demands made by officials in ports, putting the ship’s crew in a stressful situation.
Most of those who spoke thought IMO should play an active role on this matter, and it was suggested that the IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) could be used as a platform for crews and shipowners to report corrupt practices to the countries where the incident happened, bearing in mind the importance of confidentiality and the presumption of innocence. However, it was also pointed out that ship officers sometimes offer inducements to port officials, and that a holistic approach is needed to get a full picture of corrupt activities. Some IMO member states urged caution advising against IMO rushing into making decisions on how it might deal with it.
LEG 42 decided to ask the IMO’s Secretariat, in coordination with the Legal and External Relations Division, to provide its advice on the possible way forward to address this problem, including alternatives for using GISIS as a reporting mechanism.
Moreover, it invited Member States and international organisations to submit documents to FAL 43 with suggestions for ways to address the problem of corrupt practices.
Report by Unni Einemo