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Progress with IALA’s change of status

Since January this year diplomatic representatives of a growing number of States have signed the Convention in Paris and we anticipate many other States will follow as signatories.

In order to enter into force worldwide the Convention requires 30 instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

On 21 April 2021, a diplomatic note was sent from the French government to 190 ambassadors around the world to invite signatories to sign the Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation.

At the time of writing in late August, we are half way through the year of the Convention with three ratifications/acceptances and fourteen signatures received from diplomatic representatives in Paris.

On signing the Convention States are invited to transmit the instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval to France, the depositary State. Once the period for signature is closed on 26 January 2022, all Member States of the United Nations that have not signed, may accede to the Convention, which will enter into force ‘on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the thirtieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.’

Contracting Parties to the Convention

Coastal States have had the opportunity to become Contracting Parties to the Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation. The Convention was successfully finalized and adopted by a diplomatic conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2020, following several years of intensive legal drafting work and three preparatory international conferences.

Upon its entry into force, the Convention will change IALA’s status from that of an international non-governmental organization (NGO), established as an association under French domestic law, to an Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO).

As an IGO the new organization will continue to function as IALA did as a technical organization of a consultative and recommendatory nature. Its principal aim will remain unchanged: to foster the safe and efficient movement of vessels through improvement and harmonization of Marine Aids to Navigation (AtoN) for the benefit of the maritime community and the protection of the environment.

States to fulfil their obligations

IGO status will enhance IALA’s role in encouraging coastal States to fulfil their obligations for the provision of AtoN and related services, such as Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), under the International Convention for the Safety Of Life at Sea, SOLAS (Regulations V/13 and 12, respectively).

It is significant that the SOLAS Convention recognizes the Maritime Buoyage System. Furthermore, it stipulates that “in order to obtain the greatest possible uniformity in aids to navigation” Contracting Governments should take into account international recommendations and guidelines developed by IALA, when establishing such aids.