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New impetus for co-ordinated approach to ship recycling through new legally binding instrument Issued jointly by IMO, ILO and the Basel Convention

News | 15 December 2005

A Joint Working Group on ship scrapping established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal concluded its second meeting yesterday. The meeting was hosted by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on behalf of the three Organizations at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

The Joint Working Group was set up by the three Organizations and acts as a platform for consultation, co-ordination and co-operation in relation to their work programmes and activities with regard to issues related to ship scrapping. The Group aims to promote a co ordinated approach to the relevant aspects of ship scrapping in order to avoid duplication of work and overlapping of roles, responsibilities and competencies between the three Organizations. It also aims at identifying further needs relating to ship scrapping globally.

The three Organizations believe that ship recycling can contribute to sustainable development, which can only be achieved through the minimization of the environmental, safety and occupational health risks related to the ship dismantling process. The three Organizations are convinced that, by addressing such risks, the long-term sustainability of this important industry will be assured; and its contribution to sustainable development can be enhanced.

Since the first meeting of the Joint Working Group in February 2005, the IMO's Assembly adopted a resolution seeking the development of a legally binding instrument on ship recycling. This instrument would provide global regulations on the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling. It would also encompass the operation of environmentally sound ship recycling and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling.

As the IMO resolution notes the role of the ILO and the Basel Convention in ship recycling and the process of developing the future legal instrument, the Joint Working Group can make recommendations for consideration in the development of the new treaty. In this light, first substantive discussions took place on issues of direct relevance to the three Organizations. These are:

  • The experience of prior informed consent for ship recycling between States;
  • Requirements of a reporting system for ships destined for scrapping;
  • Basic principles of an applicable control mechanism;
  • Pre-cleaning and preparation of ships;
  • Practical approaches that promote occupational health and safety and environmentally sound management of ship scrapping;
  • Possible roles of concerned States, such as flag States, port States and recycling States in the context of occupational health and safety and the environmentally sound management of ship scrapping and the potential benefits of a mandatory ship recycling plan.
In parallel to the development of a new treaty on ship recycling, an International Ship Recycling Fund is expected to be established in the near future in its support.

The Joint Working Group also discussed progress made in ongoing activities such as the promotion of the implementation of Guidelines on ship recycling, the examination of relevant ILO, IMO and Basel Convention Guidelines on ship recycling, as well as joint technical co-operation activities. An IMO workshop on technical aspects of ship recycling earlier this year in Izmir, Turkey, was noted as a useful precedent for the participation of the three organizations in each other's activities.

The Joint Working Group recommended that each Organization invite the other two Organizations to participate in the workshops or seminars organized by the Organization and that each Organization include in the programme of its activities a section providing information on the Guidelines of the other two Organizations. Governments and other stakeholders are also invited to provide information to the three Organizations on any technical co-operation activities or other relevant initiatives already launched or planned so that these activities could be taken into account in the future technical co-operation programmes of the Organizations.

The full report of the meeting will be available on the following websites:,,

ILO - the International Labour Organization - is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized labour standards. Web site:

IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. Web site:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989. The Secretariat is administered by the 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 or Nicole Dawe at +4179/252-7968 or

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

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