Strict New UN-Sponsored Maritime Antiterrorism Measures Come Into Force
Strict New UN-Sponsored Maritime Antiterrorism Measures
Come Into Force
1 July 2004 – Far-reaching international
maritime security measures went into force today as part of a wider United
Nations strategy to combat terrorism, with governments, port authorities and
shipping companies required to take detailed steps to prevent such scenarios as
oil tankers being used as massive fire bombs near ports.
The measures, which require detailed security plans for ships and ports as
well as such steps as regular and intensive individual or joint patrolling in
vulnerable sea areas and the exchange of real-time intelligence, were developed
and adopted by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO)
in response to the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks against the United
"IMO has repeatedly urged governments and the industry to take steps to
increase awareness of the potential dangers and to encourage ships' crews to be
vigilant and alert to any security threat they may encounter," the agency's
chief, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos,
said of the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS
"Great emphasis has been placed on the entry-into-force date, but the real
challenge is to ensure that, now that date has passed, we do not allow ourselves
to relax and adopt any complacent attitude," he added.
The measures, adopted in December 2002 by a Conference on Maritime Security,
represent the first-ever internationally agreed regulatory framework addressing
the crucial issue of maritime security, but IMO stressed that they should not be
seen in isolation but as part of the wider UN battle against terrorism.
"In effect we are talking about establishing an entirely new culture amongst
those involved in the day-to-day running of the shipping and port industry," IMO
said in a
release on the ISPS Code, which requires governments to gather and assess
information with respect to security threats and exchange such data with other
governments. Shipboard and port facility personnel must be aware of security
threats and report concerns to the appropriate authorities, while governments
need to communicate security related information to ships and port facilities.
The measures take the form of amendments to the
1974 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, which has 148 contracting
governments and applies to 98.4 per cent of the world's merchant ships by gross
Security experts have identified a number of terrorist scenarios regarding
loaded oil tankers, including their being hijacked and grounded at
environmentally sensitive areas to cause pollution, being run aground in narrow
channels to block navigation, and being used as potential incendiary devices
near ports and large anchorage areas.