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IMO legislation and its implementation: Accident risk, vessel deficiencies and national administrative practices


  • Knudsen, Olav F.
  • Hassler, Björn


The article takes as its point of departure the apparently contradictory findings in recent research about accident rates in shipping and IMO implementation records. It is argued here that although IMO conventions have probably greatly improved shipping safety, they cannot credibly be held to be the chief cause of reduced accident rates as claimed in a recent Marine Policy article, when the documented failures of flag state and port state implementation continue to leave vessels sailing with grave deficiencies. The present analysis posits and corroborates a cluster of linked tendencies that jointly undermine IMO implementation. The core problem is IMO's weak connection to the national maritime administrations, leading to broadly discretionary practices, exacerbated by language difficulties. Adding new rules is no panacea, as new rules in some cases negatively affect the functioning of existing regulations, and sometimes seem motivated mainly to show political alertness. The structural weakness of the IMO/member state link is the core implementation problem that urgently needs to be dealt with if marine safety is to be improved. The concluding section proposes a reform to bring the IMO out of this conundrum and ensure effective implementation.

Suggested Citation

  • Knudsen, Olav F. & Hassler, Björn, 2011. "IMO legislation and its implementation: Accident risk, vessel deficiencies and national administrative practices," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 201-207, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:35:y:2011:i:2:p:201-207

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    Cited by:

    1. Cherng-Yuan Lin, 2013. "Effects of Biodiesel Blend on Marine Fuel Characteristics for Marine Vessels," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 1-11, September.
    2. Fan, Lixian & Luo, Meifeng & Yin, Jinbo, 2014. "Flag choice and Port State Control inspections—Empirical evidence using a simultaneous model," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 350-357.
    3. Geijer, Christina K.A. & Jones, Peter J.S., 2015. "A network approach to migratory whale conservation: Are MPAs the way forward or do all roads lead to the IMO?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1-12.


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