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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

54. U.S. joint statement with Canada, Colombia and Russia on amendment to IMSO Convention re procedure (September 2006)



Like other Parties participating in the Eighteenth session of the IMSO Assembly, we are strongly committed to an augmentation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) through the introduction of new satellite service providers. This should be done as rapidly as possible.

The Assembly’s decision to adopt amendments at this session may lend the appearance that progress has been made toward this goal. However, the reality is that further amendments are likely to be necessary before the IMSO can undertake any functions in support of GMDSS augmentation. Additionally, all such amendments will need to be brought into force through appropriate procedures.

At the Seventeenth session of the Assembly when the draft amendments were first examined, we expressed concern in a written statement that matters directly affecting the preparation of amendment text were still outstanding and would need to be completed before proper amendment text could be finalized and adopted. These included final decisions of the International Maritime Organization on its Resolution A.888(21) criteria for recognizing new participants in the GMDSS, completion of an agreed “reference” Public Services Agreement that new participants would be required to sign, and preparation of a legal opinion analyzing the interaction of the relevant legal instruments of the IMSO and the IMO. Additionally, the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee will for the first time review needed amendment of Chapter IV of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention later this year. As this is work still in progress, the amendments that have been adopted at the Eighteenth session of the Assembly may need to be made consistent with those efforts currently under way.

It is for this reason that the proposed amendments to the Convention are not ready for adoption at this time and therefore we do not agree with the decision of the Assembly.

We remain ready to meet at the earliest opportunities to aid in completing the necessary work and finalizing amendment proposals that will be consistent with related decisions, texts, and legal obligations of the IMSO and IMO.

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