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DUTIES OF FLAG STATES

• UNCLOS Article 94 requires the flag State to effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag (i.e. to exercise “flag State control” over its ships), and to:

– maintain a register of ships;

– assume jurisdiction under its internal law over each ship flying its flag and its master, officers and crew in respect of administrative, technical and social matters concerning the ship; and

– take such measures for ships flying its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea with regard, inter alia, to:

  1. • the construction, equipment and seaworthiness of ships;
  2. • the manning of ships, labour conditions and the training of crews, taking into account the applicable international agreements (e.g. STCW and ILO conventions);
  3. • the use of signals, the maintenance of communications and the prevention of collisions.

• The above measures must include those necessary to ensure the following:

  1. • that the ship is surveyed by a qualified surveyor of ships and has on board such charts, nautical publications and navigational equipment and instruments as are appropriate for the navigation of the ship;
  2. • that the ship is in the charge of a master and officers who possess appropriate qualifications, in particular in seamanship, navigation, communications and marine engineering, and that the crew is appropriate in qualifications and numbers for the type, size, machinery and equipment of the ship;
  3. • that the master, officers and, to the extent appropriate, the crew are fully conversant with and required to observe the applicable international regulations concerning the safety of life at sea, the prevention of collisions, the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution, and the maintenance of communications by radio.

• In taking the above measures, the State is required to conform to generally accept international regulations, procedures and practices and to take any steps which may be necessary to secure their observance.

• A State which has clear grounds to believe that proper jurisdiction and control with respect to a ship have not been exercised may report the facts to the flag State. Upon receiving such a report, the flag State must investigate the matter and, if appropriate, take any action necessary to remedy the situation.

• Each State must cause an inquiry to be held by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into every marine casualty or incident of navigation on the high seas involving a ship flying its flag and causing loss of life or serious injury to nationals of another State or serious damage to ships or installations of another State or to the marine environment. The flag State and the other State must co-operate in the conduct of the inquiry.

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