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Speech on presentation of Honorary Degree from the Korea Maritime University

IAMU General Assembly

October 15, 2010

IAMU General Assembly
15 October 2010
Speech on presentation of Honorary Degree from the Korea Maritime University
by Efthimios E. Mitropoulos
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Mr. President, Deans of Faculties in the Korea Maritime University, Professors, distinguished guests, dear students, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to receive this Honorary Degree from the Korea Maritime University today.
We all know that, while distinctions such as this are nominally bestowed on an individual, they invariably reflect the collective efforts of all who work in the organization or a company the individual serves or works for – and that is certainly the case today.
I feel privileged to have been long involved in IMO, an Organization that has espoused high ambitions and has had, since its inception, the good fortune and ability to deliver an admirable record of achievement. This has been due to the vision, diligence, dedication, commitment and sheer hard work of so many, both among our Members and within the Secretariat. You will, I trust, understand me, therefore, if I craved your indulgence by extending my thanks to all of them, and confirming that, in spirit at least, the honour that you give me today is shared with all of them.
It comes, too, at a particularly significant time, in a year when training and education in the maritime world has been at the forefront of IMO’s regulatory endeavours. The adoption, earlier this year, of the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code was a significant milestone, bringing those measures up to date with developments since they were initially adopted in 1978 and further revised in 1995; and strengthening them with the necessary means to address issues that are anticipated to emerge in shipping in the foreseeable future.  And I wish to take this opportunity to thank the University for sending its training ship, the “TS Hanbada” to Manila to participate in the ceremonies of the June Conference.  The impeccability of both cadets and ship was impressive and their hospitality as ever warm and generous.
With our World Maritime Day theme being expanded to embrace an entire year, the importance of developing and nurturing the human element in the maritime industries has never been at a higher level in our collective consciousness. 2010 may be the “Year of the Seafarer” but, as we have acknowledged on many occasions, seafarers go on to fill so many other important roles in the wider maritime community.
The many dedicated seafarers who, having served their early years at sea, now hold positions as managers and superintendents in shipping companies, maritime pilots, vessel traffic service and rescue coordination centre operators, advisers to Ministers and executives in shipping-related activities, such as insurance companies and classification societies, or who have become shipowners themselves – not to mention those who have gone on to become professors and teachers at maritime academies and colleges – are shining examples of what can be achieved if the willingness is there and the determination to go on serving shipping remains undiminished.
For all of these, training and education provides the solid foundation stone on which future success can be built. And, since it was founded in 1945, the Korea Maritime University has played a pivotal role in providing the well-trained and highly-qualified people required to fuel and sustain the rapid growth that characterized the Republic of Korea’s maritime sector in the second half of the 20th century and has continued into the current one.
More than that, this University, currently led by a great servant of shipping, my friend Dr. Oh Keo Don, has become a centre of excellence, through its teaching and research-orientated faculties, for all facets of the maritime industry, embracing the cutting edge of maritime science and technology and marine information technology as well as the more traditional skills of shipbuilding and engineering.
Your alumni are now leading the development of this great country’s maritime sector in the 21st century, and I am confident that they will extend their reach and play a significant role in the global maritime community in the future.  The contribution of those of them who man national delegations to IMO meetings or have joined the IMO staff is immense and I thank the University for having given them the tools to excel in a highly competitive environment to the benefit of all.
The challenges your faculty members will face in the coming years will be many. They will centre on finding ways in which the Republic of Korea can sustain and expand its role in the development of a shipping infrastructure that will be able to keep pace with the incessant demands of the international economy; maintain the levels of safety and security that the world is increasingly coming to expect; and have as little negative impact on our fragile global environment as possible. 
These are difficult but noble and worthy targets, which are shared by IMO and by the international shipping community as a whole.  The emphasis that we now place on the human element in all our undertakings serves to highlight the vital role that training, education and personal development will play in our industry in the future.  That is why I am enormously pleased to receive this recognition from such a highly respected institution as the Korea Maritime University. Your record of developing people of excellence to undertake a major role in the maritime world bears comparison with the finest, and I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your achievements and wish you all the best for the future.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you once again for this most prestigious honour.