IMO condemns “illegal, unjustifiable” attacks on ships in Red Sea

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IMO HQ London

Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the UN agency that regulates global shipping – have called for an immediate end to ongoing attacks on ships and seafarers transiting through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

In a resolution adopted in London, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee condemned the attacks as “illegal and unjustifiable”, posing a direct threat to the freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways, while causing major disruptions to regional and global trade.

It is the first resolution to be adopted by IMO Member States on this issue since the Houthis seized the MV Galaxy Leader in November 2023. Since then, around 50 dangerous and destabilizing maritime attacks have been carried out, costing the lives of several seafarers while the 25 crew members of the Galaxy Leader remain in hostage. The Committee called for their immediate and unconditional release.

The Houthis’ reckless actions are putting innocent lives at risk, disrupting the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid to those who need it most, increasing the cost of this humanitarian assistance, and destabilizing the region,” stated the resolution.

The Committee called for peaceful dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. In particular, it urged any party that may have influence with the Houthis to use that influence to seek an end to the attacks. It further emphasized that all 176 IMO Member States are obligated to prevent the direct or indirect supply of arms and related materiel to the Houthis, under the targeted UN arms embargo.

Echoing the resolution, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Arsenio Dominguez stated:

IMO Member States are unequivocal in their condemnation of these reckless attacks. The maritime industry sustains the supply chains that are the lifeline of nations and populations around the world – innocent seafarers and commercial ships trading essential supplies should be free to navigate, unhindered by geopolitical tensions.

“I call on all governments and relevant organizations to provide maximum assistance to seafarers affected, and to spare no effort in finding a resolution to this crisis.

IMO will continue to monitor the situation and engage stakeholders, in collaboration with Member States and partners from international industry bodies.

The resolution, adopted on 23 May, encouraged ship operators and vessels to carefully assess the nature and unpredictability of recent events, as well as the potential of continued attacks in the area, when considering transit plans.

The Maritime Safety Committee met for its 108th session from 15 to 24 May.