IMLI 25th Anniversary Event
28 April 2014
Opening Speech by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you here this afternoon to this very special celebration. I am delighted to see that so many distinguished visitors and guests have been able to join us as we celebrate a landmark anniversary for an institution that has, over the years, made such a huge contribution to the aims and objectives of IMO. Your presence underlines just how important IMLI has been, and will continue to be, as we move forward.
The world's seas and oceans constitute a truly vital resource. They provide mankind with raw materials, energy, food, employment, a place to live, a place to relax and the means to transport about 90% of global trade. Although once a largely unregulated space, the seas and oceans of the modern era are surrounded by a multi-layered legal edifice that is both extensive and deep.
An array of legal measures, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the comprehensive portfolio of IMO treaty instruments, do an excellent job in defining the rights and privileges and, at the same time, the duties, obligations and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's seas and oceans. And, for these international legal measures to be effective, States, in their turn, need to enact appropriate domestic legislation to reflect their provisions and provide, thereby, a mechanism for implementation and enforcement.
By providing a steady influx of highly trained legal professionals, IMLI has been instrumental in enabling this to happen. IMLI graduates now occupy positions of great responsibility throughout the maritime world and their knowledge, expertise and influence has been of immense and tangible benefit, particularly for the developing world, and indeed for all the economies and communities that rely on the safe secure passage of their goods across the seas.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know that the list of distinguished and eminent speakers from whom you are about to hear will provide a fascinating and comprehensive insight into the origins, development, successes and future aspirations of this truly remarkable institution – so I won't steal their thunder. It just remains for me to offer my sincere and heartfelt personal congratulations to IMLI as we celebrate its first 25 years.
Closing remarks by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
Well, I said at the beginning that you were going to hear the full history of IMLI so far, and I'm sure you'll agree that it has been a fascinating and insightful story. On behalf of all of us here, I should like to express my sincere gratitude to all the speakers for bringing this remarkable tale to life in such a vivid and enjoyable way.
As we have heard, for a quarter of a century, IMLI has been one of the cornerstones of IMO's mission to enhance and build global capacity within the maritime sector, particularly in developing countries. Together with the World Maritime University, which itself celebrated 30 years last year, IMLI has played a central role in helping to establish the solid legal foundations needed for the maritime sector to thrive.
The nations of the world understand that a shared, agreed and commonly understood framework to govern use of the world's maritime spaces is the best way forward to a sustainable maritime future. But, although the oceans cover such a large percentage of the earth's surface, there are many varied and sometimes conflicting stakeholders which all have a legitimate interest – while the overall health of the seas themselves is a common concern.
A thorough understanding of the legal framework that surrounds maritime activity, and particularly international shipping, can help all stakeholders to coexist within, and to benefit from, the bountiful resource that is the sea – and that is what IMLI has provided, to so many.
Developing and maintaining an international legal framework for the shipping industry and assisting States in the uniform and consistent application of international instruments are at the very core of our work in IMO. IMLI and its graduates help to bring that framework to life and give it real substance.
So happy birthday to IMLI! Congratulations to all of you who have helped shape this fine institution over the years to produce the world-class educational establishment that it is today. And, of course, special thanks go to Professor Attard, who has so ably steered the Institute towards growth and great academic achievements throughout its lifetime.
Congratulations on 25 years of great success, and let us look forward together to the next 25, and beyond.