International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu on Monday (26 November) opened the 28th session of the Organization’s highest governing body, the Assembly.
Mr. Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, United Kingdom, welcomed delegates to the Assembly on behalf of the host Government.
The meeting is being attended by more than 1, 000 delegates from IMO Member States as well as from international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
In his opening address, Mr. Sekimizu outlined the achievements of the Organization during the 2012 to 2013 biennium, stressing the work on passenger ship safety, following the January 2012 Costa Concordia accident; preparation for the introduction of the mandatory IMO audit scheme; the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement to implement fishing vessel safety regulations; work on maritime security and anti-piracy measures; and progress in the preparation of the Polar Code.
In the environmental field he emphasised the implementation of the energy efficiency requirements; promotion of technical cooperation and transfer of technology relating to improvement of energy efficiency of ships; the designation of Saba Bank as a new particularly sensitive sea area; the Ballast Water Management Convention implementation plan; and the adoption of six guidelines for the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.
He also focused on the challenges ahead, emphasising the finalization of the Polar Code; preparation for the mandatory audit scheme; and continuing the review and reform process for the Organization.
“In addition, our global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must continue; implementation of EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index) must be progressed; development in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) must be closely monitored; and further efforts should be made to highlight IMO’s achievements and the real, substantial contribution from the shipping industry in the wider public. Furthermore, we must ensure IMO conventions dealing with protection of the marine environment, such as the Ballast Water Management Convention, will come into force, ” Mr. Sekimizu said.
The Secretary-General referred to his objective to eradicate piracy and reduce maritime casualties by half. “On piracy, while we saw good results of our concerted efforts in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, we are concerned about the situation in the Gulf of Guinea. We should make further efforts in this field, ” Mr. Sekimizu said.
Referring efforts to reduce accidents, Mr. Sekimizu said he appreciated progress by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to implement an Accident Zero Campaign, but said the issue of maritime migrants could not be neglected.
“Hundreds of people on board small boats and ships with no safety measures are my concern. On the rescue side, IMO has done a lot. But this field needs further work to improve the system to handle persons rescued at sea. The matter of migrants and asylum seekers are well beyond the remit of this Organization. But, when it comes to hundreds of people on board small unseaworthy vessels crossing over oceans and losing their lives, we should seriously consider what we can do in the field of prevention. IMO is dealing with capacity building for proper implementation of safety regulations and maritime security, and I would like to further consider what we can do in this field in the coming biennium, ” Mr. Sekimizu said.
The outgoing President of the Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Eduardo Medina-Mora, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Mexico to IMO, and the incoming President, Mr. Ünal Çeviköz, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United Kingdom, also addressed the Assembly.
The 28th session of the IMO Assembly runs until 4 December 2013 at IMO Headquarters.
Election of Officers
The Assembly elected the following:
Mr. Ünal Çeviköz, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United Kingdom.
1st Vice-President: His Excellency Dr. Dalhatu S. Tafida, High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the United Kingdom; and
2nd Vice-President:Her Excellency Ms Ana Irene Delgado, Ambassador of the Republic of Panama
to the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative of Panama to IMO.
The Assembly is IMO’s highest governing body. All 170 Member States and three Associate Members are entitled to attend, as are the intergovernmental organizations with which agreements of co-operation have been concluded, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO. The Assembly normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Council.