INTERNATIONAL SHIP SAFETY REGULATIONS
Treaties between shipping states have a long history, as have attempts to regulate for safety at sea. However, efforts to establish uniform sea safety regulations only occurred piecemeal until the establishment of the United Nations in 1945. With the impetus provided by this international organisation of co-operative, or at least generally civil, states, the IMO was created in 1948 in order to set the highest practicable “standards of maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships” (IMO, online). In this role, the IMO develops the instruments by which activity on the seas can be monitored and regulated. The IMO conventions provide a body of international regulations that guide member states in terms of their use of the sea, and the safety of ships and the seafarers who sail them. The IMO, however, is not a policing body and the implementation of any IMO conventions relating to safety at sea remains the province of sovereign states worldwide. Thus, while member states agreed to register ships (flag them) as a mechanism for monitoring and controlling ships’ activities in terms of safe conduct, it is the responsibility of the state with which the vessel is registered to set the acceptable standard of safety onboard ships sailing under that flag. However, while the IMO conventions are very sound in what they demand from flag states, the states have not always sufficiently exercised their responsibility for honouring the terms and conditions of IMO conventions. Nor have the terms of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea always been enacted into state legislation, in spite of its importance in maintaining good order and safety on the high seas. Flag state control (FSC) of ships and shipping, therefore, has been augmented by port state control (PSC) in order to spread the responsibility for safety at sea more widely. 1
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