World Maritime Day 23 September 2010 Remarks by Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization on the handover of the petition
Ladies and gentlemen,
The weight of the almost one million signatures on this petition is both moving and awe-inspiring. We can see from these boxes – which, I understand, represent a fraction of the signatures received online - just how many people have taken the time to sign this petition.
I personally hope that the strength of feeling expressed by people from across the shipping community – and the wider world – will help to sensitize both Governments and the wider public to the harm being caused by modern-day piracy, as well as exert pressure on those who need to act.
For IMO, piracy is an issue of grave concern and we share the deep anxiety of seafarers, industry and the broader community with regard to this modern day scourge. I know I can speak for all 169 IMO Member States and three Associate Members, not to mention the many, many organizations like the ITF and the main shipping organizations that contribute to our work, in stating that it is our strong collective wish to see it permanently eradicated.
IMO, in co-operation with Governments, with our sister Organizations in the United Nations system, and with the shipping industry as a whole, has devoted much energy to addressing the problem at all levels, engaging as many stakeholders as possible. Only this month, the UN Secretary-General, responding to a letter on piracy I and the captains of the industry addressed to him in July, undertook to bring to the attention of the UN Security Council the unacceptable plight of the hostages currently being held by pirates in Somalia and to seek the Council’s support in developing an approach that might secure their release. The UN, in partnership with all concerned organizations, will, he added, spare no effort to address the challenges resulting from piracy. And I hope he will come over, when we launch next year’s World Maritime Day theme.
Earlier in the month, we briefed, on the same subject, the new Head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, until recently the Ambassador in London of the Russian Federation, Mr. Yuri Fedotov, before he left to Vienna to take up his new duties.
And, last week, we met the recently appointed special advisor to the UN Secretary-General on legal aspects pertaining to piracy, former French Minister Mr. Jack Lang.
Nevertheless, much remains to be done if the ultimate goal of consigning piracy to the realms of history is to be achieved.
As I mentioned earlier today, next year’s World Maritime Day theme will be “Piracy: orchestrating the response”, and we have identified a number of objectives that IMO and the international maritime community could pursue in promoting the theme – objectives which are reflected in the demands of this petition.
The first is to increase pressure at the political level to secure the immediate release of all hostages being held by pirates – seafarers, in the main.
The main other objectives are:
• improving guidance to the industry and promoting full compliance by ships with all recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures;
• promoting greater levels of support from navies;
• promoting anti-piracy coordination and co-operation between and among States, regions and organizations;
• building capacity in affected States to deter, interdict and bring to justice those who commit acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships; and, equally importantly,
• providing care for those attacked or hijacked by pirates and for their families.
The choice of the theme for next year is intended to allow IMO not only to play its part by intensifying its efforts to meet the challenges of eliminating the scourge of piracy worldwide but, more importantly, to orchestrate the right response, among all concerned, to achieve the set objectives.
I look forward to working with all interested parties over the coming months, and particularly throughout 2011, to achieve those goals. And I have no doubt that the petition that has been delivered today will add its own impetus and gravitas to an effort behind which we must all rally and remain united.
I congratulate the organizers of this ceremony – and am glad we were able to provide such an apt background to this handover, having behind us the International Memorial to the Seafarer.