This article considers the decision making process in the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), one of the UN Special Agencies, and in diplomatic conferences convened to finalise the work of the Committee. It examines a number of legal instruments (such as the 1989 Salvage Convention, the HNS Convention 1996, the Arrest Convention 1999, Bunker Pollution Convention 2001 and the Athens Convention 2002) to see how proposals are introduced and drafted. In particular, it provides observations on the process of negotiation and the influences which states, NGOs and individuals can exert in order to achieve drafting progress. All international organisations have their own culture, which is not always evident to ``outsiders'', and so the article tries to give a flavour of the IMO culture and the use that can be made of its travaux préparatoires
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