May 31st, 2012

IMO to establish guidelines on shipping vessels with armed guards

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) wants to establish new standards on the current trend of employing armed guards on merchant ships as a form of protection from pirates to ensure that they abide international law.

The new guideline, according to IMO would help countries and shipping countries on how to deploy armed guards and decide whether it's needed for the ship.

IMO Secretary- General Koji Sekimizu explained that standards or regimes should be established so that shipping counties and shipping companies would have an international framework when and how to legally employ arms on board. The IMO also added that there would be more talks and seminars before publishing guidelines on private guards.

"The measures that will be adopted ... are not above the law, they will all be in accordance with international and national law," said Rosalie Balkin, IMO assistant secretary-general and its director of legal affairs.

Shipping companies have become reliant on private guards for protecting their ships from piracy attacks particularly in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean as Somali Pirate attacks continue to be a major problem.