The U.N. shipping agency is departing from its impartial role due to “external pressure” and is being used in the interests of “a minor group of beneficiaries”, which is impacting the fair treatment of all member countries, Russia said in a submission to the global shipping regulator published this week.
The London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for regulating the safety and security of international shipping and preventing pollution and comprises 175 member state countries.
In December, the IMO Assembly, the agency’s highest governing body that meets every two years, will elect 40 countries by secret ballot to the executive IMO Council, which supervises the work of the body.
Ukraine has been pushing to have Russia ousted from the IMO Council due to Moscow’s invasion last year.
Russia, which has been an IMO member state since 1958 and consistently re-elected to the IMO Council, is seeking re-election this year, it said in one of the candidate submissions to the IMO dated Sept. 21 and published on Monday.
“It is clear that due to the external pressure, the IMO started to move away from its equidistant and impartial role in international affairs, to devote more of its precious time to political issues, lying mostly outside of its carefully drafted mandate,” Russia’s IMO mission said.
“Evidently, IMO is being used in the interests of a minor group of beneficiaries to the detriment of the majority of states.”
Russia did not provide specifics of how the IMO’s role has changed or who it alleged is exerting external pressure on the IMO.
Russia said it sought to contribute “at these challenging times to the IMO efforts”, adding that the balance within the Organization “has been disrupted including in terms of fair treatment of interests of all IMO member states”.
The IMO’s Secretariat does not comment on submissions or notes by member states, an IMO spokesperson said.
Ukraine’s IMO delegation told Reuters that Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine has resulted in severe violations of the principles of international law”, including a blockade of the international shipping industry in the Black Sea-Sea of Azov region and “deliberate attacks” against commercial vessels, ports, navigational facilities, maritime training institutions, and the marine environment in Ukraine, as well as affected seafarers.
“Russia cannot be considered as a responsible member of the international maritime community and should be ousted out of the IMO Council,” Ukraine’s delegation said.
Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed arrangement in July, which enabled Ukraine to export its grains. Since then, Kyiv has launched its own ‘humanitarian corridor’.
Moscow failed to win enough votes for re-election to the UN aviation agency’s governing council in October last year in a rebuke of Moscow for aviation-related actions taken after its invasion of Ukraine.