‘No Meetings, Work from Home’ Declares IMO As It Shutdown Headquarter!


As Europe moved towards a shutdown due to the surge in coronavirus cases in the pandemic epicenter, the UN’s Shipping Agency, that is the International Maritime Organization, IMO has canceled all its meetings and shut down its headquarters in London.

What is it?

The IMO Secretariat has been closely monitoring developments of the impact of COVID-19 at local and global levels and has followed the advice provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Government of the United Kingdom (as the host government) and actions taken by other UN agencies, says a press release published on their website.

The IMO HQ building is closed to visitors and staff, from Thursday 12 to Monday 16 March, inclusive, as a precautionary measure due to the COVID-19 virus.

Meetings Postponed

Taking into account the rapid increase of cases worldwide and the continuing difficulties for some delegates from IMO Member States travelling from abroad to attend IMO meetings, and the determination by the World Health Organization, on 11 March, that the outbreak is now pandemic, the following meetings are now postponed:

  • the 7th meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, scheduled to take place from 23 to 27 March 2020;
  • the 33rd meeting of the E&T Group (IMSBC), scheduled to take place from 23 to 27 March 2020;
  • the 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), scheduled to take place from 30 March to 3 April 2020.

These postponements are in addition to those already announced on 6 March, specifically the postponement of:

  • the meeting of the Scientific Group of the London Convention and London Protocol scheduled to take place from 9 to 13 March 2020; and
  • the 107th session of the Legal Committee, scheduled to take place from 16 to 20 March 2020.

Diplomatic Contact Points Informed

The IMO Secretary-General will be consulting with Member States, and in particular Members of the Council, on these actions and any others (i.e. additional postponements) required in the interest of public health and safety.

The IMO Secretariat will continue to monitor all developments related to COVID-19 and will advise as soon as possible on future developments. Rescheduling of the meetings listed above will be announced in good time for delegates to make appropriate arrangements. Further updates about other meetings scheduled to take place in April will be provided as soon as possible.

IMO Member States have been advised by circular letter and email, to diplomatic contact points.

Coronavirus Diagnosed in IMO People?

This follows the 11 March assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic, and information received that a short-term conference interpreter working in the IMOHQ building on 4 March 2020, but showing no symptoms, was later diagnosed with COVID-19.

All individuals who were in close contact with this person while they were in the building have been informed.

Cleaning the Headquarter Building 

In accordance with the host government recommended procedures, certain areas of the IMO HQ building are undergoing deep cleaning during the closure period. The remainder of the building will be sanitized as appropriate.

Visiting the Building Discouraged

Group visits and other external events in the IMOHQ building are currently cancelled until 15 April, inclusive. From Tuesday 17 March, any social visits to the IMOHQ building are actively discouraged.

IMO Working Remotely

The IMO Secretary-General and the Organization’s Senior Management Committee are monitoring the situation closely. Although the physical headquarters building is closed, the majority of IMO staff are working remotely

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Source: IMO