Understanding Conventions, Protocols & Amendments
Conventions, protocols, and amendments are terms that are extensively in the shipping industry. Each and every aspect of shipping industry is related to some kind of conventions, protocols, and amendments. In this article we will try and understand differences between conventions, protocols, and amendments.
International conventions are agreed when a number of countries, which are members of the IMO, feel that there is a need for a convention. Such countries meet together, usually at the invitation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and discuss about various proposals and finally come to an agreement which is recorded in the form of a Final Act of Conference.
Regulations are generally technical provisions of the convention.
When a major amendment is to be incorporated on regulations of the convention, a protocol is called among the countries, who are signatory of the original convention when it was signed and approved. E.g. for MARPOL 73/78, the year1973 in which the act was passed was the convention and in1978 what was passed was the protocol.
The regulations enforced by the conventions are required to be amended frequently from time to time to keep pace with the rapid evolving technology in the shipping world.
Amendments of the convention can be made by either of the following methods described below:
A) After consideration within IMO
Amendments proposed by the contracting government of the IMO are circulated at least for six months before consideration by the relevant committee. It is only after this that the amendments are adopted. Amendments come into action after being accepted by two-third majority of the contracting governments present and their voting.
B) Amendment by Conference
A conference of the contracting government of the IMO is called when a contracting government requests for holding of a conference and at least one third of the contracting government agrees to hold the conference. Amendments are adopted when it is accepted by two-third majority of the contracting government present and their votes.
The order is followed by Convention then protocol and finally amendments.