Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Good morning distinguished delegates. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the twentieth session of the FSI Sub-Committee.
From the beginning of this year when I took up my position as Secretary-General, I set my objectives for the Organization: a forward-looking, efficient and cost-conscious Organization with strengthened and knowledge-based authority in global standard setting, as a specialized agency within the United Nations system.
In this regard, I established an in-house Review and Reform mechanism comprised of five sub-groups on:
• Budget & Expenditure;
• Human Resources;
• Meeting Support Arrangements;
• Technical Co-operation; and
• Information Technology.
They are making progress but we are still in the early days and it is premature for me to provide you with any information on progress at this stage but I plan to provide a progress report to the upcoming Council in June.
Since the beginning of this year, I have conducted a number of missions. In New York, I met Mr. Ban and discussed how we can strengthen our co operation, between the UN and IMO, for all aspects of the work of the Organization and, in particular, for capacity building for anti-piracy activities.
We met again on 22 February when Mr. Ban was in London to attend the Somalia Conference organized by this country’s Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, and Mr. Ban and I reconfirmed our approach. Having been supported and encouraged by Mr. Ban, we are now preparing important events in mid-May.
On 15 May, an IMO Conference on capacity building to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia will be held and all relevant UN Agencies and the European Union will be invited to discuss how we can strengthen our co operation for capacity-building efforts to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia.
On 16 May, we are holding a high-level segment of the Maritime Safety Committee to discuss the issue of arms on-board. This is an important issue, which requires high-level policy discussion, and I am requesting Member Governments to ensure high-level participation. For these high-level events, the Secretariat has issued document MSC 90/20/5 on the substance of the issue of arms on-board, MSC 90/20/7 on the framework of the high-level segment and Circular letter No.3252 inviting participation to the Conference on Capacity Building. Delegations may wish to bring these documents to the attention of the relevant departments of their administrations.
On the Costa Concordia accident, as I have stated at previous Sub-Committee meetings, we should not pre-empt or speculate, but we should wait for the outcome of the casualty investigation. I am grateful to the Government of Italy for agreeing to IMO to participate as an observer in the casualty investigation proceedings. Today, the Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Winbow, is travelling to Italy to participate in the proceedings and I am looking forward to receive any information on the progress of the casualty investigation. I have also opened a communication channel with the cruise industry and requested their own safety review process and to provide information to the Maritime Safety Committee and I have added an independent item on Passenger Ship Safety on the agenda of the MSC at its 90th session.
In the wake of a series of accidents involving ferries on domestic voyages in the Asia and Pacific region and resulting in loss of lives, I would like to express IMO’s solidarity, at these difficult times, with the friends and families of all involved. The Organization, through its Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme is currently addressing the issue of domestic ferry safety. Related technical co-operation activities will continue to be implemented in 2012 and beyond. On a potential further related aspect, I hope that your work on a structured framework of regulations for non-convention ships might also contribute to enhancing domestic ferry safety.
A chemical tanker, which suffered a fire and explosion in the Gulf region on 13 March, is still at sea some 70 miles off the coast. IMO has been monitoring the situation and contacting stakeholders and authorities and providing technical information as requested. The fire has now been extinguished and the salvage operation is on-going. If we are to be successful, we need co-operation – co-operation among response entities and salvors and authorities of littoral States. I wish all the best for a successful operation.
Turning now to other items your Sub-Committee will be addressing, one key issue is the need for a consistent and systematic approach in the process of drafting amendments to IMO instruments. Your work should aim at improving this process and avoiding any future anomalies and omissions, particularly with respect to amendments to SOLAS requirements relating to ship structure and equipment.
This Sub-Committee has a wealth of expertise to foster implementation and compliance on a range of subject areas. As a result, you will continue your work on the review of the Survey Guidelines under the HSSC and, within the context of the institutionalization of the audit scheme, the review of the annexes to the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO instruments.
And also, an important item at this session is making the IMO Instruments Implementation Code and auditing system mandatory. You are expected to consider the crucial matter of the amendments to IMO instruments to make the Code and the auditing mandatory, and how future amendments to the Code may be addressed.
To change the subject, in connection with the current Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme, you will pursue the detailed review of the analysis of consolidated audit summary reports with a view to initiating an important feed-back mechanism at future sessions and to make substantial recommendations for consideration by all relevant IMO bodies. Still on VIMSAS, I would like to encourage Member States to continue to volunteer to be audited in accordance with the current scheme and its principles.
Coming to another issue, the Code for Recognized Organizations, this is a very important instrument which should be made mandatory and I would encourage the Sub-Committee to finalize the draft Code and the associated draft amendments to relevant instruments with a view to their adoption in the foreseeable future.
I understand that, this evening, a reception will be held in the Delegates Lounge to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Paris MOU – congratulations! I wish to stress the importance of the harmonization of port State control activities, which your Sub-Committee has been vigorously pursuing since its first meeting in April 1993. In the context of facilitation and collaboration among IMO Members and IGOs, I wish to see significant progress being made at this session through the signing of PSC data exchange agreements between PSC regimes and this Organization.
Before concluding my remarks, I would like to recall that IMO is a technical body and, as such, we should move forward ‘beyond politics’. Our aim is to secure safe, environmentally friendly, efficient and sustainable shipping, in order to support world trade and the economy, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and contribute towards the prosperity of mankind on this planet while preserving the environment.
We have good causes: safety, the environment, efficiency and sustainability; and we should move forward beyond differences of opinion in searching for common ground. Therefore, let us move forward.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, and without taking any more of your time, I offer my best wishes for your deliberations and a productive meeting.