Monday, 7 July, 2008

IMO Council completes 100th session

The IMO Council completed its landmark 100th session on Friday, June 20, , following a week which also saw a series of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention; the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of that Convention; the return of the IMO Secretariat to its refurbished Albert Embankment Headquarters; and the 25th and 20th anniversaries, respectively, of the World Maritime University (WMU) and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI).

Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia
The Council welcomed the recent adoption by the United Nations Security Council of resolution 1816 (2008), under which, with the co-operation of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, States might enter the country’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law.

The Council invited Member Governments, individually and/or collectively, to take appropriate action in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1816 (2008), to ensure that the scourge of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia is eradicated and that the vital shipping lane through the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Bab el Mandeb is protected against unlawful acts which may threaten the safety of navigation. It also thanked the Governments, and the navies, of France, Denmark and the Netherlands for their support in escorting ships carrying humanitarian aid on behalf of the World Food Programme into Somali ports, and encouraged them - as well as other Governments and navies - to continue assisting with this humanitarian activity.

The Council requested IMO Secretary‑General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos to take appropriate action to promote a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, that was developed by an IMO-sponsored Sub-regional meeting on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea area, held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, in April 2008, including the convening of a further high‑level meeting to conclude the MoU at the earliest possible time.

Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme
Following debate on the future of the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme, the Council requested the Secretary‑General to prepare an holistic study, to be submitted to its 101st meeting in November 2008, of possible ways to develop the Audit Scheme.

The Council noted that 21 audits had already been completed under the scheme; another 21 countries had offered to be audited; and eight further audits were planned for the rest of 2008. IMO Member States, which not already done so, were encouraged to volunteer for audits and also to continue to nominate qualified auditors for inclusion in the roster of auditors.

Conferences endorsed
The Council endorsed the holding of an ad hoc diplomatic conference to take place in Hong Kong, China, from 11 to 15 May 2009, to consider for adoption a new international convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. It also endorsed the holding, in 2010, of a conference to adopt proposed amendments to the STCW Convention and the STCW Code and noted, with appreciation, the offer of the Philippines to host this conference at no additional cost to the Organization.

IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
The Council endorsed the decision of a Panel of Judges that the 2008 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea should go to Mr. Rodolfo Fonseca da Silva Rigueira, of the drill ship Noble Roger Eason, nominated by the Government of Brazil for prompt and effective action in saving six crew members from a dangerous fire on the ship. The fire originated from an explosion, causing imminent risk of death to crew members in the vicinity, including Mr. Rigueira, yet, instead of evacuating the area, he repeatedly exposed himself to the fire and very high temperatures, at severe risk to his own life, to save his six colleagues.

A total of 32 nominations from ten Member States of IMO, one intergovernmental organization and three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status were received at IMO and considered in May by an Assessment Panel consisting of experts nominated by various NGOs. The Panel of Judges met on 13 June, under the chairmanship of the Council Chairman, and with the participation of the Chairmen of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the Legal Committee, the Technical Co‑operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee.

International Maritime Prize
The Council agreed to award the International Maritime Prize for 2007 to Mr. Jørgen Rasmussen, former chief ship surveyor in the Danish Maritime Authority, former Head of the Danish delegation to IMO meetings and former Head of the Navigation Section in the IMO Secretariat. Mr Rasmussen was strongly involved in the development of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, in his role as chairman of the Sub-committee on Radio-communications (COM) and its successor, the Sub-committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR). He also chaired the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element and was instrumental in developing the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. More recently, Mr. Rasmussen co-ordinated two correspondence groups involved in developing the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments and the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme.

World Maritime Day theme for 2009
The IMO Council agreed, following a proposal from the Secretary-General, that the World Maritime Day theme for 2009 will be “CLIMATE CHANGE: a challenge for IMO too!” The Council also authorized necessary arrangements for the celebration of World Maritime Day in 2009, including a parallel event to be held in the United States.

Anniversary and milestone celebrations
Outside its regular business, it was also a busy week of extra-mural events for the IMO Council as it and the Organization celebrated a series of milestones and anniversaries during the meeting.
On Monday, 16 June, Mr. Mitropoulos welcomed UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who gave a special address, highlighting the work of IMO not just in terms of the service it provides in regulating the maritime industry, but also in the wider context of the international agenda set by the United Nations, including IMO’s work to support the Millennium Development Goals, protect the environment and promote sustainable development. Mrs. Ruth Kelly, the host Government’s Secretary of State for Transport also addressed the Council. (See IMO Briefing 28/2008).

On Tuesday, 17 June, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester officially opened the Organization’s refurbished Headquarters, on London’s Albert Embankment, in the presence of Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick, the United Kingdom’s Shipping Minister. (See IMO Briefing 29/2008). The successful outcome of the refurbishment project was also the subject of a resolution adopted by the Council expressing appreciation to all involved in its planning, execution and completion. On Tuesday evening, paintings of two IMO training institutes, WMU and IMLI, were unveiled by representatives of the two host Governments and of the two centres themselves. (See IMO Briefing 30/2008).

On Wednesday, 18 June, shipping industry representatives participated in a panel discussion on IMO/industry co-operation under the theme: IMO’s relationship with the maritime industry. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Chris Horrocks, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and of the International Shipping Federation (ISF), and the panel included Mr. Spyros M. Polemis, Chairman of ICS and President of ISF; Mr. Ugo Salerno, former Chairman of IACS; Mr. Philippe A. Embiricos, President of BIMCO; Mr. David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation; Mr. Roger Holt, Secretary-General of INTERCARGO, and Mr. Joe Angelo, Deputy Managing Director of INTERTANKO.

On Thursday, 19 June, local schoolchildren, who participated in an art competition organized by IMO on the theme of Shipping in the future, visited IMO to see their artwork on display. The winner and two runners-up were awarded special prizes. (See Briefing 31/2008).

Later that day, a panel of speakers brainstormed on the challenges the Organization will face during the 21st century, with a series of speeches on IMO into the future. The speakers were: Secretary-General Mitropoulos; Mr. Kosuke Shibata, Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan; IMO Council Chairman, Mr. Johan Franson (Sweden); Council Vice-Chairman, Mr. Dumisani Ntuli (South Africa); Maritime Safety Committee Chairman, Mr. Neil Ferrer (Philippines); Marine Environment Protection Committee Chairman, Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou; IMO Assembly President, H.E. Mr. Gehad Madi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Egypt; and the Deputy Under Secretary, Ministry of Transport of Turkey, Mr. Suat Hayri Aka.

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