WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 31–49 | Cite as

Living with ships in distress

— A new IMO decision-making framework for the requesting and granting of refuge
  • Aldo Chircop


In November 2003 the IMO Assembly adopted Guidelines on Places of Refuge for Ships in Need of Assistance following a two-year deliberation period. The Guidelines were adopted in the wake of the highly publicized ERIKA, CASTOR and PRESTIGE incidents and at the same time as the European Union adopted a regional policy on places of refuge. This paper discusses the problem of places of refuge for ships in distress and analyses the IMO Guidelines adopted as a response to the problem. The paper concludes that the Guidelines constitute a practical modus vivendi for a non-resolvable problem. However, many legal questions remain unanswered and it is likely that the IMO will continue to be seized of the legal aspects of the problem into the future.

Key words

environment protection IMO Guidelines places of refuge search and rescue ships in distress salvage law of the sea 


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Copyright information

© World Maritime University 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aldo Chircop
    • 1
  1. 1.World Maritime UniversityGermany

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