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Human Element: IMO

The human element is recognized as a key element of the safety of life on board ships and a contributing factor to most of the casualties in the shipping sector..

The wide-ranging scope and importance of the human element makes it a shared responsibility of IMO, as the regulatory body; Member States, as implementers; companies, as providers of the necessary resources, safety policies and safety culture; and seafarers, as the individuals who physically operate ships.

The safety and security of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and over 80% of the world's trade depends on the professionalism and competence of seafarers.

The IMO's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 was the first internationally-agreed Convention to address the issue of minimum standards of competence for seafarers. In 1995 the STCW Convention was completely revised and updated to clarify the standards of competence required and provide effective mechanisms for enforcement of its provisions

Future perspective of the human element

The human element is currently included within the overarching principles of the Strategic Plan for the Organization for the six-year period 2018 to 2023 (resolution A.1110(30)), which provides that the human element will be taken into account in the review, development and implementation of new and existing requirements, including skills, education and training, and human capabilities, limitations and needs; and that IMO, in all aspects of its work, will take into account the needs and well-being of seafarers.

In addition to the already heavy human element-related workload emanating essentially from the HTW Sub-Committee and its terms of reference and associated regulatory instruments, such as the assessment of information communicated by STCW Parties; implementation of technical cooperation activities (in the context of environmental protection, facilitation, safety and security) and the coordination of the model courses programme; the following is a non-exhaustive description of relevant human element-related actions and initiatives currently being undertaken or planned to be undertaken by the Organization:

Comprehensive review of the STCW-F Convention

Analysis of implementation issues of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, with a view to possibly initiating a comprehensive review of the Convention in the near future;

Addressing the human element-related work emanating from the regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS);

Development of provisions for fair treatment of seafarers detained on suspicion of committing a crime; and guidelines for port State authorities to deal with abandonment cases;

Development of training provisions for seafarers related to the BWM Convention;

Development of harmonized electronic messages to encourage the automatic exchange of information between ship and shore and the integration of the automatic exchange of information in maritime single window systems;

Actions emanating from the action plan to address marine plastic litter from ships; and

Several interagency partnerships initiatives with various UN Specialized Agencies, mainly ILO
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