Dubai, UAE: The UAE recently participated in the 109th session of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Legal Committee meetings to discuss key issues related to the maritime sector and best international practices. This underlines the country’s commitment to serving the IMO’s objectives, developing the global maritime industry, and promoting its competitiveness. The UAE plays an active role in developing maritime strategies and policies, setting standards that regulate the industry’s operations, and strengthening its legislation. By collaborating with the IMO member states, the UAE aims to serve the shipping industry and facilitate the progress of international trade.
The UAE has assumed a great responsibility in this regard since it was first elected to the IMO Executive Council under Category B in 2017. The UAE has been re-elected to the IMO Executive Council three times in a row, and got the highest number of votes in the last IMO elections held in December 2021. This reflects the amount of confidence IMO members have in the UAE’s impact on the global maritime industry, as it has the necessary expertise required to catalyse its advancement.
H.E. Eng. Hassan Mohamed Juma Al-Mansoori, Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport Sector at the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said, “While most countries across the globe are classified in terms of their maritime qualifications such as a flag country like Panama, a port country like Singapore, or a coastal country like Norway, the UAE has all three qualities. The UAE’s flag is a model for complying with international maritime agreements and treaties; the country’s ports are among the largest and most advanced ports in the world; and its coastline is over 160 kilometres long, comprising 230 islands that are home to many endangered aquatic species. Thus, we are able to offer various solutions to enhance the capabilities of the global maritime industry. We are proud of the distinguished experiences of the Emirati people; whose knowledge and capabilities are at par with the best international maritime standards.”
Al-Mansoori added, “The UAE’s participation in the IMO’s Legal Committee meetings adds value to the discussions as the Emirates contributes towards enhancing maritime safety and security regulations, as well as addressing issues of concern to the global maritime community. Every year, more than 25,000 ships from all over the world arrive at the UAE’s ports. As part of the IMO Executive Council, we aim to make use of our expertise in the industry to address challenges facing the sector, and satisfy its needs.”
Participation in developing maritime standards
H.E. Mohamed Khamis Al-Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the IMO said, “As a member of the IMO Executive Council under Category B, we present constructive proposals that benefit the global maritime sector and enrich the IMO’s work. During the last Legal Committee meeting, we addressed a pressing issue in the maritime sector related to developing a flexible and dynamic mechanism to calculate the value of inflation when estimating civil liability within the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) Convention. This Convention was first put in place in the 1970s, revised in 1996, and modified again in 2012. As per the Convention, inflation was multiplied, but without a clear mechanism to calculate the value of claims based on the inflation rates. The proposal has been accepted and work is under way to study and develop the best methodologies for assessing the need to amend the limits of liability, in liability and compensation agreements such as the 1976 Convention on limitation of liability for maritime claims, as amended by the 1996 Protocol.”
Al-Kaabi added, "During the meeting, our proposal to form a team to prepare a comprehensive study on the fraudulent registration of ships was accepted. The study will be based on a number of questions the UAE presented to the Committee. The UAE also presented other proposals including, forming a joint team from the Maritime Safety Committee, the Legal Committee, and the Facilitation Committee, to address common issues related to Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). Additionally, the team will prepare guidelines for claims as per the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001.”
Challenges facing the development of the legal system globally
Jasmin Fichte, Founder and Managing Partner at Fichte & Co. said, “Developing the legal system is one of the biggest challenges facing the maritime industry worldwide. The process takes years, which makes commercial laws in many cases outdated and not relevant to their context, as if they belong to another era. The UAE’s proposal to make international agreements and treaties flexible, self-updating, and amendable according to the current commercial and economic data is very important. It will greatly help ship owners and various other maritime industry players who suffer because of laws that are not updated as per the current developments. We hope that the UAE continues to update legal regulations related to the maritime sector. At Fichte & Co., we are ready to provide support through the expertise of our consultants to contribute to the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure’s efforts, and its success in developing the global maritime industry.”
All the proposals presented by the UAE to develop the IMO’s legal system will significantly enhance the capabilities of the maritime industry. Maritime laws constitute a decisive factor in encouraging investors and companies to pump capital into the sector. Additionally, there is a need to develop new legal systems that keep pace with the new and emerging technologies that are gradually being developed and used to modernise maritime infrastructure globally, including autonomous ships and artificial intelligence.