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UN agencies seek a coordinated approach to ship scrapping

News | 09 December 2005

GENEVA - Representatives of the International Labour Organization, the International Maritime Organization and the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal will hold the second meeting of the Joint Working Group on Ship Scrapping here from 12-14 December to ensure that their respective ship-scrapping regimes are mutually supportive.

The Working Group was established by decisions of the Parties to the Basel Convention, the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee and the ILO Governing Body. It will consider the respective work programmes of the three partners as they relate to ship scrapping in order to avoid the duplication of work or overlaps in responsibilities and competencies.

It will also aim to identify further needs, undertake a comprehensive initial examination of the three organizations' relevant ship-scrapping guidelines, identify any possible gaps or overlaps between them and consider mechanisms to promote their joint implementation.

The Joint Working Group consists of five States representing the IMO, five States representing the Basel Convention and five labour representatives and five employer representatives for the ILO. Delegations from other States as well as environmental groups will attend as observers.

The drive to address occupational health, safety and environmental issues in the context of ship scrapping has been given a new sense of urgency by the entry into force of an IMO amendment bringing forward the phase-out schedule for single-hull tankers and prohibiting such tankers from carrying heavy-grade oil. This is expected to increase the number of vessels destined for recycling in the near future.

Ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons and ozone-depleting substances. Concerns have also been raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world's ship-scrapping locations.

The Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) seeks to promote social justice and internationally recognized labour standards; it oversees 69 Conventions and regulations relating to maritime standards and about 70 Conventions on occupational safety and health.

The London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal promotes the environmentally sound management of wastes; it is administered by the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Note to journalists: The meeting, which is closed, will take place in the Palais des Nations. For more information, please contact:

UNEP: Michael Williams at +4179/409-1528 or on Friday only. During the meeting please contact Nicole Dawe at +4179/252-7968 or See also

ILO: Hans von Rohland at +4122/799-7916 or

IMO: Lee Adamson at +4420/7587-3153 or