IMO Assembly adopted amendment to the IMO Convention


The IMO Assembly has adopted amendments to the IMO Convention to expand the size of the Council, extend the term of its Members and recognize three additional language texts as authentic versions of the IMO Convention.

The Assembly is meeting for its 32nd session (6-15 December).

Until the amendments enter into force, the current structure will remain unchanged.

The amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization require acceptance by two thirds of the IMO Membership, or 117 Member States (based on the current membership of 175 Member States) for entry into force.

Congratulating Member States on the adoption of the amendments, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “The adoption of the amendments to the IMO Convention is a major milestone in the reform of the Council. The expansion of the size of the Council to 52 will support the attainment of a representative, balanced, diverse, and efficient Council, that can support the interests of the whole membership and ensures the representation of all the major geographic areas of the world.”

“In view of the importance of these amendments, I urge Member States to communicate their instrument of acceptance to me for deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations at their earliest convenience,” Secretary-General Lim added.

The Assembly also agreed to consider for adoption an Assembly resolution to encourage the early acceptance of the amendments.

Expansion of the Council

Upon entry into force of these proposed Council reforms by the Assembly, the IMO Council will increase by 12 Member States, from its current 40 Members to 52. Expanding the size of the IMO Council would see 12 seats allocated to Categories (a) and (b) each and 28 seats to Category (c).

The categories are:
(a) – States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services
(b) – States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade each;
(c) – States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.

Member term length

Under the amendments, Council Members would remain in their roles until the end of the next two consecutive regular sessions of the Assembly, after which they would be eligible for re-election. Since Assemblies are usually held every two years, this would generally mean that Members would serve a four-year term.

Additional authentic languages

In the spirit of multilingualism embraced by the United Nations system, the IMO Assembly adopted an amendment to the IMO Convention, such that Arabic, Chinese and Russian, (which are already official languages of the Organization), will be added as authentic texts of the IMO Convention, supplementing the current authentic texts in English, French and Spanish.

Current Council Members

The current Council Members elected for the 2020-2021 biennium are:

  • Category (a): China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.
  • Category (b): Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Category (c): Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

Election for 2022-2023

The election of 40 Council Members for the 2022-2023 biennium will take place on Friday, 10 December.