Twin Concerns

The twin issues of piracy and the control of armed guards on ships will be debated at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC89) meeting, starting in London this week.

The guidelines being mooted include advice and provisions on the selection of the company and the armed individual. They will also assess the contracts for the use of armed security (leading law firm Ince & Co has created a standard contract).

A number of contracting Governments are pressing for controls, guidelines and for advice. Some, such as Liberia believe that the issue should be managed by the IMO itself – though given budgetary and manpower constraints this is considered unlikely. Also, according to experts, the IMO is not considered to have the requisite expertise to manage security providers,  after all the IMO makes the rules, it is up to others to manage compliance.

The most pragmatic response has been taken by the increasingly influential Marshall Islands, they have put their money where they mouth is, and have provided funding and support to establish the Security Associaiton for the Maritime Industry (SAMI).

SAMI is a body made up of maritime security providers, and is in the process of developing clear, robust standards for security companies to comply with. Given the need to promptly get regulatory control out into the security market, it seems that this SAMI route is by far the most likely to succeed.

The Association exists to bring all sides of the industry together, so that stakeholders can drive real change and progress. With support and acknowledgement from a range of shipping trade associations, insurers, unions, welfare organisations, flag States, as well as the security companies themselves we can expect some real progress once the IMO makes it’s stance clear.

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