Russia’s demand for a roll-call vote under scrutiny
IMO Assembly to reconvene on Russia question today
The International Maritime Organisation Assembly (IMO) is expected to consider a request from Russian Federation to vote on a question of whether the Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC) can be used as an instrument for penalising a Member State when they reconvene today. Editor, Colleen Jacka, takes a look at the question being posed.
During Friday’s session Member States were given the opportunity to express whether they supported or rejected the TCC’s recommendation to suspend Russia’s privileges within the IMO following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
After a display of overwhelming support from most Member States, the Russian Federation rejected the sentiments expressed during the session and called on the President of the Assembly and the Secretary General of IMO to facilitate a roll-call vote on a single question.
The Russian delegate concluded that the question that needed to be answered was “Can the TCC be used to penalise a Member State?”
He further reiterated that this was the same question posed in paragraph nine of the country’s submission to IMO in mid-November. paragraph nine states: “The Assembly is invited to confirm the illegitimacy of any decision by TCC or any other IMO organ to suspend, limit or restrict IMO technical cooperation and condemn use of such measures as "retaliatory mechanisms" against IMO Member States.”
Several Member States, including the United Kingdom, suggested that the question being posed for the roll-call vote differed in context to that posed in Russia’s November document and therefore could not be presented to the floor for voting.
Taking control of the situation, the Secretary General, Kitack Lim proposed that the matter be taken up by the organisation’s legal advisors over the weekend to determine the legitimacy of the request for roll-call voting as well as the nature of the question in terms of the IMO’s rules of procedure and its mandate under the IMO Convention.
The Russian delegate noted that Rule 34 gave a Member State the express right to call for a roll-call vote during a session.
While Article 1 of the IMO Convention outlines the purpose of the organisation, the Rules of Procedure outlines the mechanisms for the IMO Assembly.
Rules 32 through 40 relate to voting procedures and Rule 34 states:
“The Assembly shall normally vote by show of hands. However, any member may request a roll-call which shall be taken in alphabetical order of the members in English beginning with the member whose name is drawn by lot by the president.”
It is unlikely, however, that the IMO’s team will consider this rule in isolation to the context of what the Russian Federation is demanding.
One has to consider that the rules for voting relate to decisions of the Assembly and of its subsidiary bodies including provisions, reports, resolutions and recommendations to be adopted.
If one scrutinises this, it does not explicitly allow for voting on a question presented during a session of the Assembly that does not directly relate to these. As such, it may be suggested that Russia’s simple question as to whether the TCC can be used to penalise a Member State, may not qualify for such a vote.
What it could allow for, however, is for a vote on whether the recommendation made by the TCC to suspend Russia from any IMO technical activity is accepted by Member States or not.
And, judging by the statements made by Member States on Friday – the TCC recommendation is likely to be accepted by the majority.
It will be interesting to hear what type of clarity the IMO legal team will deliver this morning in London.
CAPTION: The Russian delgate at the IMO Assembly - screen shot from YouTube streaming