industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and
the upsurge in international commerce which followed resulted in the
adoption of a number of international treaties related to shipping,
including safety. The subjects covered included tonnage
measurement, the prevention of collisions, signalling and others.
By the end of the nineteenth century suggestions had even been made
for the creation of a permanent international maritime body to deal
with these and future measures. The plan was not put into effect,
but international co-operation continued in the twentieth century,
with the adoption of still more internationally-developed treaties.
By the time IMO came into existence in 1958, several important
international conventions had already been developed, including the
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1948, the
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea
by Oil of 1954 and treaties dealing with load lines and the
prevention of collisions at sea.
IMO was made responsible for ensuring that the majority of these
conventions were kept up to date. It was also given the task of
developing new conventions as and when the need arose.
The creation of IMO coincided with a period of tremendous change in
world shipping and the Organization was kept busy from the start
developing new conventions and ensuring that existing instruments
kept pace with changes in shipping technology. It is now
responsible for nearly 50 international conventions and agreements
and has adopted numerous protocols and amendments.
convention This is
the part of the process with which IMO as an Organization is most
closely involved. IMO has six main bodies concerned with the
adoption or implementation of conventions. The Assembly and Council
are the main organs, and the committees involved are the Maritime
Safety Committee, Marine Environment Protection Committee, Legal
Committee and the Facilitation Committee. Developments in shipping
and other related industries are discussed by Member States in these
bodies, and the need for a new convention or amendments to existing
conventions can be raised in any of them.
Normally the suggestion is first made in one of the committees,
since these meet more frequently than the main organs. If agreement
is reached in the committee, the proposal goes to the Council and,
as necessary, to the Assembly.
If the Assembly or the Council, as the case may be, gives the
authorization to proceed with the work, the committee concerned
considers the matter in greater detail and ultimately draws up a
draft instrument. In some cases the subject may be referred to a
specialized sub-committee for detailed consideration.
Work in the committees and sub-committees is undertaken by the
representatives of Member States of the Organization. The views and
advice of intergovernmental and international non-governmental
organizations which have a working relationship with IMO are also
welcomed in these bodies. Many of these organizations have direct
experience in the various matters under consideration, and are
therefore able to assist the work of IMO in practical ways.
The draft convention which is agreed upon is reported to the Council
and Assembly with a recommendation that a conference be convened to
consider the draft for formal adoption.
Invitations to attend such a conference are sent to all Member
States of IMO and also to all States which are members of the United
Nations or any of its specialized agencies. These conferences are
therefore truly global conferences open to all Governments who would
normally participate in a United Nations conference. All
Governments participate on an equal footing. In addition,
organizations of the United Nations system and organizations in
official relationship with IMO are invited to send observers to the
conference to give the benefit of their expert advice to the
representatives of Governments.
Before the conference opens, the draft convention is circulated to
the invited Governments and organizations for their comments. The
draft convention, together with the comments thereon from
Governments and interested organizations is then closely examined by
the conference and necessary changes are made in order to produce a
draft acceptable to all or the majority of the Governments present.
The convention thus agreed upon is then adopted by the conference
and deposited with the Secretary-General who sends copies to
Governments. The convention is opened for signature by States,
usually for a period of 12 months. Signatories may ratify or accept
the convention while non-signatories may accede.
The drafting and adoption of a convention in IMO can take several
years to complete although in some cases, where a quick response is
required to deal with an emergency situation, Governments have been
willing to accelerate this process considerably.
Entry into force The
adoption of a convention marks the conclusion of only the first
stage of a long process. Before the convention comes into force -
that is, before it becomes binding upon Governments which have
ratified it - it has to be accepted formally by individual
Each convention includes appropriate provisions stipulating
conditions which have to be met before it enters into force. These
conditions vary but generally speaking, the more important and more
complex the document, and the more stringent are the conditions for
its entry into force. For example, the International Convention for
the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, provided that entry into force
requires acceptance by 25 States whose merchant fleets comprise not
less than 50 per cent of the world's gross tonnage; for the
International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969, the
requirement was acceptance by 25 States whose combined merchant
fleets represent not less than 65 per cent of world tonnage.
When the appropriate conditions have been fulfilled, the convention
enters into force for the States which have accepted - generally
after a period of grace intended to enable all the States to take
the necessary measures for implementation.
In the case of some conventions which affect a few States or deal
with less complex matters, the entry into force requirements may not
be so stringent. For example, the Convention Relating to Civil
Liability in the Field of Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Material,
1971, came into force 90 days after being accepted by five States;
the Special Trade Passenger Ships Agreement, 1971, came into force
six months after three States (including two with ships or nationals
involved in special trades) had accepted it.
For the important technical conventions, it is necessary that they
be accepted and applied by a large section of the shipping
community. It is therefore essential that these should, upon entry
into force, be applicable to as many of the maritime states as
possible. Otherwise they would tend to confuse, rather than
clarify, shipping practice.
Accepting a convention does not merely involve the deposit of a
formal instrument. A Government's acceptance of a convention
necessarily places on it the obligation to take the measures
required by the convention. Often national law has to be enacted or
changed to enforce the provisions of the convention; in some cases,
special facilities may have to be provided; an inspectorate may have
to be appointed or trained to carry out functions under the
convention; and adequate notice must be given to shipowners,
shipbuilders and other interested parties so they make take account
of the provisions of the convention in their future acts and plans.
At present IMO conventions enter into force within an average of
five years after adoption. The majority of these instruments are
now in force or are on the verge of fulfilling requirements for
entry into force.
ratification, acceptance, approval and accession The
terms signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession
refer to some of the methods by which a State can express its
consent to be bound by a treaty.
may be expressed by signature where:
the treaty provides
that signature shall have that effect;
it is otherwise
established that the negotiating States were agreed that
signature should have that effect;
the intention of the
State to give that effect to signature appears from the
full powers of its representatives or was expressed
during the negotiations (Vienna Convention on the Law of
Treaties, 1969, Article 12.1).
AState may also sign a treaty "subject to ratification, acceptance or
approval". In such a situation, signature does not signify the
consent of a State to be bound by the treaty, although it does
oblige the State to refrain from acts which would defeat the object
and purpose of the treaty until such time as it has made its
intention clear not to become a party to the treaty (Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 18(a))
subject to ratification, acceptance or approval Most
multilateral treaties contain a clause providing that a State may
express its consent to be bound by the instrument by signature
subject to ratification.
In such a situation, signature alone will not suffice to bind the
State, but must be followed up by the deposit of an instrument of
ratification with the depositary of the treaty.
This option of expressing consent to be bound by signature subject
to ratification, acceptance or approval originated in an era when
international communications were not instantaneous, as they are
It was a means of ensuring that a State representative did not
exceed their powers or instructions with regard to the making of a
particular treaty. The words "acceptance" and "approval" basically
mean the same as ratification, but they are less formal and
non-technical and might be preferred by some States which might have
constitutional difficulties with the term ratification.
Many States nowadays choose this option, especially in relation to
multinational treaties, as it provides them with an opportunity to
ensure that any necessary legislation is enacted and other
constitutional requirements fulfilled before entering into treaty
The terms for consent to be expressed by signature subject to
acceptance or approval are very similar to ratification in their
effect. This is borne out by Article 14.2 of the Vienna Convention
on the Law of Treaties which provides that "the consent of a State
to be bound by a treaty is expressed by acceptance or approval under
conditions similar to those which apply to ratification."
multinational treaties are open for signature for a specified period
of time. Accession is the method used by a State to become a party
to a treaty which it did not sign whilst the treaty was open for
Technically, accession requires the State in question to deposit an
instrument of accession with the depositary. Article 15 of the
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that consent by
accession is possible where the treaty so provides, or where it is
otherwise established that the negotiating States were agreed or
subsequently agreed that consent by accession could occur.
Amendment Technology and techniques in the shipping industry change very
rapidly these days. As a result, not only are new conventions
required but existing ones need to be kept up to date. For example,
the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS),
1960 was amended six times after it entered into force in 1965 - in
1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1973. In 1974 a completely new
convention was adopted incorporating all these amendments (and other
minor changes) and has itself been modified on numerous occasions.
In early conventions, amendments came into force only after a
percentage of Contracting States, usually two thirds, had accepted
them. This normally meant that more acceptances were required to
amend a convention than were originally required to bring it into
force in the first place, especially where the number of States
which are Parties to a convention is very large.
This percentage requirement in practice led to long delays in
bringing amendments into force. To remedy the situation a new
amendment procedure was devised in IMO. This procedure has been used
in the case of conventions such as the Convention on the
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972,
the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships, 1973 and SOLAS 1974, all of which incorporate a procedure
involving the "tacit acceptance" of amendments by States.
Instead of requiring that an amendment shall enter into force after
being accepted by, for example, two thirds of the Parties, the
“tacit acceptance” procedure provides that an amendment shall enter
into force at a particular time unless before that date, objections
to the amendment are received from a specified number of Parties.
In the case of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, an amendment to most of
the Annexes (which constitute the technical parts of the Convention)
is `deemed to have been accepted at the end of two years from the
date on which it is communicated to Contracting Governments...'
unless the amendment is objected to by more than one third of
Contracting Governments, or Contracting Governments owning not less
than 50 per cent of the world's gross merchant tonnage. This period
may be varied by the Maritime Safety Committee with a minimum limit
of one year.
As was expected the "tacit acceptance" procedure has greatly speeded
up the amendment process. The 1981 amendments to SOLAS 1974, for
example, entered into force on 1 September 1984. Compared to this,
none of the amendments adopted to the 1960 SOLAS Convention between
1966 and 1973 received sufficient acceptances to satisfy the
requirements for entry into force.
enforcement of IMO conventions depends upon the Governments of
Contracting Governments enforce the provisions of IMO conventions as
far as their own ships are concerned and also set the penalties for
infringements, where these are applicable.
They may also have certain limited powers in respect of the ships of
In some conventions, certificates are required to be carried on
board ship to show that they have been inspected and have met the
required standards. These certificates are normally accepted as
proof by authorities from other States that the vessel concerned has
reached the required standard, but in some cases further action can
The 1974 SOLAS Convention, for example, states that "the officer
carrying out the control shall take such steps as will ensure that
the ship shall not sail until it can proceed to sea without danger
to the passengers or the crew".
This can be done if "there are clear grounds for believing that the
condition of the ship and its equipment does not correspond
substantially with the particulars of that certificate".
An inspection of this nature would, of course, take place within the
jurisdiction of the port State. But when an offence occurs in
international waters the responsibility for imposing a penalty rests
with the flag State.
Should an offence occur within the jurisdiction of another State,
however, that State can either cause proceedings to be taken in
accordance with its own law or give details of the offence to the
flag State so that the latter can take appropriate action.
Under the terms of the 1969 Convention Relating to Intervention on
the High Seas, Contracting States are empowered to act against ships
of other countries which have been involved in an accident or have
been damaged on the high seas if there is a grave risk of oil
pollution occurring as a result.
The way in which these powers may be used are very carefully
defined, and in most conventions the flag State is primarily
responsible for enforcing conventions as far as its own ships and
their personnel are concerned.
The Organization itself has no powers to enforce conventions.
However, IMO has been given the authority to vet the training,
examination and certification procedures of Contracting Parties to
the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification
and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978. This was one of the
most important changes made in the 1995 amendments to the Convention
which entered into force on 1 February 1997. Governments will have
to provide relevant information to IMO's Maritime Safety Committee
which will judge whether or not the country concerned meets the
requirements of the Convention.
between Conventions and interpretation Some
subjects are covered by more than one Treaty. The question then
arises which one prevails. The Vienna Convention on the Law of
Treaties provides in Article 30 for rules regarding the relationship
between successive treaties relating to the same subject-matter.
Answers to questions regarding the interpretation of Treaties can be
found in Articles 31, 32 and 33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law
of Treaties. A Treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in
accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the
treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.
When a Treaty has been authenticated in two or more languages, the
text is equally authoritative in each language, unless the treaty
provides or the parties agree that, in case of divergence, a
particular text shall prevail.
Uniform law and
conflict of law rules A
substantive part of maritime law has been made uniform in
international Treaties. However, not every State is Party to all
Conventions and the existing Conventions do not always cover all
questions regarding a specific subject. In those cases conflict of
law rules are necessary to decide which national law applies. These
conflict of law rules can either be found in a Treaty or, in most
cases, in national law.
IMO conventions The
majority of conventions adopted under the auspices of IMO or for
which the Organization is otherwise responsible, fall into three
The first group is concerned with maritime safety; the second with
the prevention of marine pollution; and the third with liability and
compensation, especially in relation to damage caused by pollution.
Outside these major groupings are a number of other conventions
dealing with facilitation, tonnage measurement, unlawful acts
against shipping and salvage, etc.
amendment procedures contained in the first Conventions to be
developed under the auspices of IMO were so slow that some
amendments adopted have never entered into force. This changed with
the introduction of the "tacit acceptance" procedure.
Tacit acceptance is now incorporated into most of IMO's technical
Conventions. It facilitates the quick and simple modification of
Conventions to keep pace with the rapidly-evolving technology in the
shipping world. Without tacit acceptance, it would have proved
impossible to keep Conventions up to date and IMO's role as the
international forum for technical issues involving shipping would
have been placed in jeopardy.
In the spring of 1968, IMO - then still called IMCO, the
Inter-Governmental Consultative Organization - celebrated the 20th
anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention. It should have
been an occasion for some congratulations. But all was not well.
Many of the Organization's Member States were not happy with the
progress that had been made so far.
Many were concerned about the Organization's structure and its
ability to respond to the changes taking place in shipping. In
March, 1967, the oil tanker Torrey Canyon had gone aground
off the coast of England, resulting in what was then the world's
biggest oil spill. IMO was called upon to take action to combat oil
pollution and to deal with the legal issues that arose. But would it
be able to do so?
The general disquiet was summed up by Canada in a paper submitted to
the 20th session of the IMO Council in May 1968. It stated that "the
anticipations of twenty years ago have not been fulfilled" and went
on to complain of the effort required by Member States in attending
meetings and dealing with the technical problems raised by IMO. The
paper was discussed by the Council which agreed to establish a
working group to prepare a draft statement of the objectives of IMO
and an inventory of further objectives which the Organization could
usefully fulfil in the field of international maritime transport.
In November 1968 the working group reported back to the Council. It
outlined a list of activities, far broader than the programmes
undertaken by IMO so far. This was approved by the Council, which
also agreed that IMO needed to improve its working methods.
The working group was asked to report to the Council again at its
22nd session in May 1969.This time it put forward a number of
proposals for improving IMO's working methods, the most important of
which concerned the procedures for amending the various Conventions
that had been adopted under IMO's auspices.
The problem facing IMO was that most of its Conventions could only
be updated by means of the "classical" amendment procedure.
Amendments to the 1960 SOLAS Convention, for example, would enter
into force "twelve months after the date on which the amendment is
accepted by two-thirds of the Contracting Governments including
two-thirds of the Governments represented on the Maritime Safety
Committee. This did not seem to be a difficult target when the
Convention was adopted, because to enter into force the Convention
had to be accepted by only 15 countries, seven of which had fleets
consisting of at least 1 million gross tons of merchant shipping.
But by the late 1960s the number of Parties to SOLAS had reached 80
and the total was rising all the time as new countries emerged and
began to develop their shipping activities. As the number of Parties
rose, so did the total required to amend the Convention. It was like
trying to climb a mountain that was always growing higher and the
problem was made worse by the fact that Governments took far longer
to accept amendments than they did to ratify the parent Convention.
The Council approved the working group's proposal that "it would be
a useful first step to undertake a comparative study of the
conventions for which IMO is depositary and similar instruments for
which other Members of the United Nations family are responsible."
This proposal was endorsed by the 6th regular session of the IMO
Assembly in October 1969 and the study itself was completed in time
to be considered by the Assembly at its 7th session in 1971.
It examined the procedures of four other UN agencies: the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU), the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
It showed that all of these organizations were able to amend
technical and other regulations. These amendments became binding on
Member States without a further act of ratification or acceptance
On the other hand, IMO had no authority to adopt, let alone amend
conventions. Its mandate allowed it only to "provide for the
drafting of conventions, agreements or other instruments and to
recommend these to Governments and to intergovernmental
organizations and to convene such conferences as may be necessary."
Article 2 of the IMO Convention specifically stated that IMO's
functions were to be "consultative and advisory".
The Organization could arrange a conference - but it was up to the
conference to decide whether the Convention under discussion should
or should not be adopted and to decide how it should be amended. The
study concluded that "any attempt to bring IMO procedure and
practice into line with the other organizations would, therefore,
entail a change either in the constitutional and institutional
structure of the Organization itself or in the procedure and
practice of the diplomatic conferences which adopt the conventions
The first might involve an amendment to the IMO Convention itself.
The second might require that diplomatic conferences convened by IMO
should grant greater power to the organs of IMO in regard to the
review and revision of the instruments.
The study was discussed at length by the Assembly.
Canada pointed out that the amendments adopted to the 1960 SOLAS
Convention in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 had failed to enter into
force and this "sufficed to show that IMO would henceforth have to
tackle serious institutional problems." A note submitted to the
conference by Canada stated that "unless the international maritime
community is sufficiently responsive to these changed circumstances,
States will once again revert to the practice of unilaterally
deciding what standards to apply to their own shipping and to
foreign flag shipping visiting their ports."
The result was the adoption of resolution A.249(VII) which referred
to the need for an amendment procedure "which is more in keeping
with the development of technological advances and social needs and
which will expedite the adoption of amendments." It called for the
Legal Committee and Maritime Safety Committee to prepare draft
proposals for consideration by the 8th Assembly.
A growing urgency was added by the fact that IMO was preparing a
number of new conventions for adoption during the next few years.
Conferences to consider a new Convention on the International
Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and an International
Convention for Safe Containers were both scheduled for 1972, a major
Convention dealing with the Prevention of Marine Pollution from
Ships for 1973 and a conference to revise SOLAS was scheduled for
1976. All of these treaties required a new, easier amendment
procedure than the traditional method.
The MSC discussed the amendment question at its 25th session in
March 1972. A working group was formed to discuss the matter in
detail and concluded that at current rates of acceptance the
requisite "two-thirds" target needed to amend SOLAS 1960 "will not
be achieved...for many years, possibly never." Moreover, any future
amendments would almost certainly suffer the same fate. This would
include any amendments intended to improve the amendment procedure
The working group reported: "It follows that the only realistic way
of bringing an improved amending procedure into effect within a
reasonable period of time is to incorporate it into new or revised
A few weeks later, the Legal Committee held its 12th session. Among
the documents prepared for the meeting was a report on discussions
that had taken place at the MSC and a detailed paper prepared by the
Secretariat. The paper analysed the entry into force and amendment
processes of various IMO Conventions and referred to two possible
methods that had been considered by the Assembly, for speeding up
the amendment procedure. Alternative I was to revise each Convention
so that greater authority for adopting amendments might be delegated
to the appropriate IMO organs. Alternative II was to amend the IMO
Convention itself and give IMO the power to amend Conventions.
The study then considered Alternative I in greater detail. The main
reason why amendments took so long to enter into force was the time
taken to gain acceptance by two-thirds of Contracting Governments.
One way of reducing this period would be by "specifying a date ...of
entry into force after adoption by the Assembly, unless that date of
amendment is explicitly rejected by a certain number or percentage
of Contracting Governments." The paper said that this procedure "has
the advantage that all Contracting Governments would be able to
advance the preparatory work for implementing the amended
regulations and the industry would be in a position to plan
The Committee established a working group to consider the subject
and prepared a preliminary study based on its report, which again
referred to the disadvantages of the classical amendment system. The
study continued: "The remedy for this, which has proved to be
workable in practice, in relation to a number of conventions, is
what is known as the 'tacit' or 'passive' acceptance procedure. This
means that the body which adopts the amendment at the same time
fixes a time period within which contracting parties will have the
opportunity to notify either their acceptance or their rejection of
the amendment, or to remain silent on the subject. In case of
silence, the amendment is considered to have been accepted by the
The tacit acceptance idea immediately proved popular. The Council,
at its meeting in May, decided that the next meeting of the Legal
Committee should consist of technical as well as legal experts so
that priority could be given to the amendment issue. The Committee
was asked to give particular attention to tacit acceptance.
The idea was given non-governmental support by the International
Chamber of Shipping, which had consultative status with IMO and
submitted a paper stating that the lack of an effective amendment
procedure created uncertainties and was detrimental to effective
planning by the industry. The classical procedure had also
encouraged some governments to introduce unilateral legislation
that, however well intentioned, was "seriously disruptive to
international shipping services." The paper said that if other
Governments did the same " the disruption to international shipping
and the world trade which it serves would become increasingly
severe. Such unilateral action strikes at the purpose of IMO."
By the time the Legal Committee met for its 14th session in
September 1972, there was general agreement that tacit acceptance
offered the best way forward. Other ideas, such as amending the IMO
Convention itself, had too many disadvantages and would take too
long to introduce. There was some concern about what would happen if
a large number of countries did reject an amendment and the
Committee members agreed that tacit acceptance should apply only to
the technical content of Conventions, which was often contained in
annexes. The non-technical articles should continue to be subject to
the classical (or "positive") acceptance procedure.
The Committee also generally agreed that alternative procedures for
amending the technical provisions should be retained but it did not
reach consensus on another issue: should amendments be prepared and
adopted by an appropriate IMO body, such as the Maritime Safety
Committee - or by Contracting Parties to the Convention concerned?
This was an important point at the time, since many Contracting
Parties to IMO Conventions were not yet Members of IMO itself and
might object to treaties they had ratified being amended without
them even being consulted.
This issue was still unsettled when the Conference on Revision of
the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
opened in October 1972. The purpose of the conference was to update
the Collision Regulations and to separate them from the SOLAS
Convention (the existing regulations were annexed to SOLAS 1960).
The amendment procedure is contained in Article VI. Amendments to
the Collision Regulations adopted by the MSC (by a two-thirds
majority) have to be communicated to Contracting Parties and IMO
Member States at least six months before being considered by the
Assembly. If adopted by the Assembly (again by a two-thirds
majority), the amendments enter into force on a date determined by
the Assembly unless more than one third of Contracting Parties
notify IMO of their objection. On entry into force, any amendment
shall "for all Contracting Parties which have not objected to the
amendment, replace and supersede any previous provision to which the
Less than two months later, on 2 December 1972 a conference held in
Geneva adopted the International Convention for Safe Containers,
Article X of which contains procedures for amending any part or
parts of the Convention. The procedure is the traditional "positive"
acceptance system, under which amendments enter into force twelve
months after being adopted by two-thirds of Contracting Parties.
However, Article XI contains a special procedure for amending the
technical annexes which also incorporates tacit acceptance. The
procedure is slightly different from that used in the Collision
Regulations, one difference being that the amendments can be adopted
by the MSC "to which all Contracting Parties shall have been invited
to participate and vote." This answered the question of how to take
into account the interests of Parties to Conventions that were not
Member States of IMO.
The next Convention to be considered was the International
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL),
which was successfully adopted in May 1973. It, too, incorporated
tacit acceptance procedures for amending the technical annexes. In
the meantime, IMO was preparing for a new SOLAS convention. This was
considered necessary because none of the amendments adopted to the
1960 version had entered into force and did not appear likely to do
so in the near future. The 1966 Load Lines Convention also contained
a classical amendment procedure and the intention was to combine the
two instruments in a new Convention, which was scheduled to be
considered in 1976.
The MSC discussed this proposal at its 26th session in
October-November, but it was clear that this would be a daunting and
time-consuming task. The combined instrument might be a good idea
for the future - but the real priority was to get the amendments to
SOLAS 1960 into force as quickly as possible and to make sure that
future amendments would not be delayed. A working group was set up
to consider the various alternatives, but opinion began to move in
favour of a proposal by the United Kingdom that IMO should
concentrate on an interim Convention designed to bring into force
the amendments adopted since 1960. The new Convention, it was
suggested, would consist of the 1960 text with the addition of a
tacit acceptance amendment procedure and the addition of amendments
that had already been adopted.
Another advantage, the United Kingdom pointed out, was that the
conference called to adopt the revised Convention "might be held
considerably earlier than 1976 since comparatively little
preparation would be needed." The subject was discussed again at the
MSC's 27th session in the spring of 1973 and, although some
delegations wanted a more comprehensive revision, others felt that
the workload would be so great that the conference would be
seriously delayed. By a vote of 12 in favour and four abstentions,
the Committee decided to call a conference with limited scope, as
proposed by the United Kingdom.
On 21 October, 1974, the International Conference on Safety of Life
at Sea opened in London and on 1 November a new SOLAS Convention was
adopted, which incorporated the tacit acceptance procedure.
The tacit acceptance amendment procedure has now been incorporated
into the majority of IMO's technical Conventions and has been
extended to some other instruments as well. Its effectiveness can be
seen most clearly in the case of SOLAS 1974, which has been amended
on many occasions since then. In the process, the Convention's
technical content has been almost completely re-written.