CLOSING STATEMENT BY MR. KOJI SEKIMIZU, SECRETARY-GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION
Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Chairman of the IMO Council, distinguished delegates, observers, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen,
I wish, first of all, to offer my sincere congratulations to you all on your achievement in adopting the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977. You have done a good service to the cause of safety of life at sea, which remains at the core of everything IMO does and stands for.
The issues that needed to be resolved to enable the Conference to make its final decision on the text of the Agreement have been addressed through the willingness of all concerned to achieve consensus. The pragmatic and realistic solutions reached should make wide acceptance of the adopted Agreement possible.
The Conference was a success, but this is not an end of our road. This is just the beginning of another round of our concerted effort to implement international safety regulations for fishing vessels. Work must continue in a pro-active manner to bring the Cape Town Agreement into force as soon as possible, so that the many fishermen and women around the world can enjoy the benefit of the Torremolinos Protocol without delay. This, together with the full and effective implementation and enforcement of the STCW-F Convention, will enhance safety to the highest practicable level.
In this centenary year of Titanic, we finally agreed to implement the provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol. I believe that this milestone in IMO’s regulatory history, reached here in Cape Town, marks a significant contribution to the longer-term sustainability of the fishing industry, which I see as part of on-going efforts, within the wider United Nations context, to achieve sustainable development goals in the economic, environmental and social spheres. Thus, the immediate task at hand is to promulgate the mandatory safety standards addressed by the Agreement to ensure their proper implementation and enforcement through national legislation.
The success of this Conference would not have been possible without the spirit of goodwill, co-operation and understanding on the part of all participants and the leadership displayed by its Officers. Our deep appreciation is, therefore, due to all of them, starting with you, Mr. President, for your inspiring opening address and for your wise guidance thereafter. Your sound advice has contributed significantly to the success of the Conference and we are very grateful to you for that. The support provided by your Vice-Presidents – Vice Admiral Enrique Larrañaga of Chile, Mr. Masato Mori of Japan and Mr. Andrzej Kossowski of Poland – also deserves our special thanks.
I wish to join you, Mr. President, in acknowledging the outstanding role played by the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, Mr. Miguel Palomares of Spain, who expertly helped participants, both in the Committee and behind the scenes, to grapple with some of the complex issues before the Conference and, eventually, achieved the consensus needed to resolve them. I believe we have been extremely fortunate to have had Mr. Palomares at the helm of the Committee of the Whole. The Vice-Chairmen of the Committee of the Whole – Mr. Jaideep Sirkar of the United States and Mrs. Jemilat Mahamah of Ghana – also deserve our special thanks for their commitment and expert contributions.
In addition, my special thanks would also go to Capt. Campbell of South Africa for his sterling work at the special group which developed the agreed package on key issues of the exemption clause and the condition for entry into force.
Appreciation is also due to the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Ms Laureen Kinney of Canada, its Vice Chairman, Mr. Guangling Li of China, and its other members for their meticulous work in ensuring that the agreement reached by the Conference has been reflected in sound treaty language.
My sincere thanks also go to the Chairman of the Credentials Committee, Mr. Mohammed S. Qualid of Morocco, and all the members of this Committee for their indispensable work for the success of the Conference.
There are many others who have also made a very significant contribution, often hidden from our view. My IMO colleagues have done sterling work, particularly those from the Maritime Safety Division, headed by Mr. Andy Winbow together with Mr. Jack Westwood-Booth and Ms. Heike Deggim; the staff from the Conference Division, headed by Mrs. Olga O’Neil; our colleagues from the IMO Documents Section; and the translators and interpreters. The assistance of the IMO Legal Office, headed by Dr. Rosalie Balkin, also deserves a special mention – thank you, Mr. Gaetano Librando and Mr. Chris Young, for always standing by with the best legal advice.
Last, but not least, I wish to take this opportunity to thank, once again, the Government of the Republic of South Africa for inviting us to Cape Town, and also for bearing the substantial cost of moving the IMO staff over here and providing logistical support in the preparation and running of this Conference. Special thanks are in order for Mr. Dumisani Ntuli and for Ms Nomusa Maeko and her staff at the Ministry of Transport, who have so efficiently and tirelessly helped our work this week. They really did pull out all the stops to ensure the successful outcome of our endeavours and to make our stay very pleasant. To name the Agreement just adopted after this vibrant and fascinating City was the least we could do in return.
The Conference was only a short three-day conference and the final document, the Cape Town Agreement of 2012, is a brief document.
But this brief and short document carries heavy weight. The weight of expectation for the entry into force of the Torremolinos Convention was accumulated over 35 years, with a history of attempts to overcome difficulties for its global implementation. The Cape Town Agreement carries the heavy weight of the good hope of all States gathered here this week for the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993, with modifications and under the agreed schemes of implementation.
I am sure that this time our hope will be realized in the very near future.
It remains for me to wish all delegates, observers and colleagues a safe journey back home and to London. I am sure that all of us will take with us wonderful memories of this most beautiful city of Cape Town and of a country that has so many attractions to offer to foreign visitors, not least the unique brand of hospitality and friendship of its people.