WHY Middle East Shipowners’ Forum 2021?
Article 92 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea defines the legal status of ships. This article stipulates in its first paragraph that “Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas”. Therefore, merchant ships whose number exceeds 90 thousand ships around the world must raise the flags of countries if their owner holds the nationality of the ship’s flag or otherwise, according to the provisions of the law of each country.
More than half of the merchant ships in the world are registered in countries (open registry), which permit raising their flag even if the ship owner is not of their nationality; Panama and Liberia are currently the two largest flag states which they contribute strongly to support their economy and give them power and weight in the related International Shipping Organizations.
The number of ships registered in the Lebanese flag exceeded 350 ships before the civil war, but decreased during after the end of the war due to many factors that affected its re-growth, most notably the competition and facilities provided by other flags that invested in this sector, despite the presence of many incentives in Lebanese flag that needs to be presented to the shipowners’ community due to its absence and poor knowledge. Therefore, the “Middle East Shipowners’ Forum” comes to shed light on the advantages of registering the Lebanese flag and discusses the challenges with stakeholders to develop this sector together, that serves and enhances effective cooperation between the public and private sectors.