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The University of Southampton
Institute of Maritime Law

Robert Veal represents CMI at IMO

Published: 14 June 2017
Robert Veal at IMO
Robert Veal at IMO

Robert Veal, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Maritime Law was part of the Comité Maritime International’s delegation to the 98th Meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee earlier this month in London.

The IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. CMI is an NGO comprised of national maritime law associations and other maritime law organizations and it seeks to contribute by all appropriate means and activities to the unification of maritime law. 

One of the many important agenda items at MSC 98 was the regulation of unmanned ships. Many State and NGO delegations made submissions and participated in the lively discussion on this particular matter and the CMI outlined the work its lawyers have already undertaken in this field. The CMI has written a position paper which considers the ability of unmanned ships to comply with the existing corpus of IMO shipping regulations as well as the technology’s implications for broader international law. It has also produced a questionnaire for national maritime law associations to consider the extent to which national law is suitable for unmanned shipping. Robert was one of the leading authors of both documents.

In response to the delegates’ submissions and related discussion, the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee has agreed to put the regulation of unmanned ships on its work programme. This will be in the form of a regulatory scoping exercise which will consider the extent to which the current framework of IMO regulations and civil liability conventions require amendment or clarification in the light of unmanned ships, and thus builds on the work previously undertaken by both the CMI and the IML.

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