Presentation of a Commemorative Plaque to IMO by Chile
Monday, 13 May 2012
Opening address by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Minister, Your Excellency, Ambassador Müller, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It was 30 years ago this week, on 17 May 1983, to be exact, that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Head of State of our host country, the United Kingdom, formally opened this Headquarters building, a few years after His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh had laid its foundation stone.
This building was purpose-built for the Organization and, at the time, represented the state of the art for a contemporary Headquarters building, housing the office, conference, printing and catering facilities that IMO had previously lacked at earlier locations in central London.
Since that inauguration, it has been our home for all but a few brief years in the middle of the last decade, when it underwent a much-needed, and highly successful, refurbishment. Inside, we now have a brighter and more flexible working environment, with a much reduced carbon footprint and the best possible audio-visual, communication and information technologies to facilitate our work. And, externally, the front of our Headquarters was radically transformed with the unveiling of the International Memorial to Seafarers, in September 2001, which created an iconic London landmark on the Thames riverfront.
This building has seen a great deal since its opening 30 years ago. Structural changes, meetings and conferences, of course; but, more than that, heated debates, momentous agreements and world-changing decisions. Great people have made their mark here and, over the years, left their own clear trace of good work in regulatory work of this Organization.
This building, on Albert Embankment, has become the undisputed epicentre of regulation-making for international shipping and, of course, we are indebted to the Government of the United Kingdom for hosting the Organization in this, the world’s shipping centre.
It is, therefore, only right and proper that the 30th anniversary of its opening should be marked in an appropriate way – with something that will commemorate the 30 years that have gone before and remind us, and future generations, of the proud legacy that this building carries forward to all those who enter it.
While contemplating any meaningful commemorative event here to mark the 30th anniversary, we were delighted to be informed by the Government of Chile of its willingness to present a plaque to IMO in conjunction with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the opening of this Headquarters building.
Today, we extend our sincere gratitude to the Government of Chile for its generous gesture in presenting us with this splendid plaque, made from Chilean copper, especially for IMO. It will be permanently displayed here, in the main hall, behind the podium, acting, I hope, as a source of inspiration to all those who enjoy the privilege and the responsibility of being part of the IMO family.
So thank you, Chile; and I am sure I speak on behalf of everybody when I say that your gift is very much appreciated.