Conference to adopt new international treaty on wreck removal opens in Nairobi
International Conference on the Removal of Wrecks: 14-18 May 2007, Nairobi,
A Diplomatic Conference
to adopt a new international convention on wreck removal was opened in Nairobi,
Kenya, by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO),
Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, on Monday (14 May 2007). The new convention will
provide the legal basis for States to remove, or have removed, shipwrecks that
may have the potential to affect adversely the safety of lives, goods and property
at sea, as well as the marine environment.
If adopted, the convention will fill a gap in the existing international legal
framework. Neither the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea nor IMO's
Salvage Convention deals in substance with the problem of wreck removal, leaving
States unclear as to the legal position, particularly with regard to wrecks
located beyond the territorial sea.
Although the incidence of marine casualties has decreased dramatically in recent
years, mainly thanks to the work of IMO and the persistent efforts of Governments
and industry to enhance safety in shipping operations, the number of abandoned
wrecks, estimated at almost thirteen hundred worldwide, has reportedly increased
and, as a result, the problems they cause to coastal States and shipping in
general have, if anything, become more acute.
These problems are three-fold: first, and depending on its location, a wreck
may constitute a hazard to navigation, potentially endangering other vessels
and their crews; second, and of equal concern, depending on the nature of the
cargo, is the potential for a wreck to cause substantial damage to the marine
and coastal environments; and third, in an age where goods and services are
becoming increasingly expensive, is the issue of the costs involved in the marking
and removal of hazardous wrecks. The convention attempts to resolve all of these
and other, related, issues.
The five-day Conference, being held in the United Nations Office at Nairobi
(UNON), is taking place under the auspices of the IMO, the United Nations specialized
agency with responsibility for safety and security at sea and prevention of
marine pollution from ships, and is being organized with the support of the
Government of Kenya and UNON. The Conference is the first such event that IMO
has held in Africa and is being attended by delegations from some 60 IMO Member
The draft convention is the result of many years' work in IMO's Legal Committee.
In his opening remarks, IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos commended it to the
Conference, telling delegates, "The draft convention submitted for your
consideration this week combines the benefits of uniformity with flexibility;
it also carefully balances the rights and obligations assigned to States Parties
and shipowners through a skilful combination of private and public law provisions."
The Conference was addressed on its second day by the President of the Republic
of Kenya, His Excellency the Honourable Mwai Kibaki, following a national day
of prayer, on Monday, 14 May, in memory of the victims of the recent Kenya Airlines
accident in Cameroon.
The following were elected as officers of the Conference:
Hon. Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Minister for Transport (Kenya)
Admiral Miguel Angelo Davena, Permanent Representative of Brazil to IMO (Brazil)
Mr. Eddy Pratomo, Director General for Legal Affairs and International Treaties,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Indonesia)
Mr. Rafal Sylwester Wiechecky, Minister of Maritime Economy (Poland)
Mr. Jassim Mohamed Al-Manai, Assistant Chairman for Marine Ports Affairs, Customs
and Ports General Authority (Qatar)
Professor Lee-Sik Chai, Dean of Korea University Law School (Republic of Korea)
of the Whole
Mr. Jan De Boer, Senior Legal Counsel, Ministry of Transport (Netherlands)
Committee of the Whole
H.E. Mr. Julio Cesar González Marchante, Ambassador of Cuba to Kenya
and Permanent Representative of Cuba to UNEP and HABITAT (Cuba)
Mr. Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers' Council (Ghana)
Mr. Mark Gauthier, Acting General Counsel of the Maritime Law Secretariat of
the Department of Justice (Canada)
Other officers will be elected as the Conference progresses.
11, 16 May 2007
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World Maritime Day 2007
for World Maritime Day 2007 is "IMO's response to current environmental
challenges". The theme was chosen to give IMO the opportunity to focus
on its environmental work (both of the past and present) and thus intensify
its efforts to add our contribution to that of the international community to
protect and preserve the environment before it is too late.
World Maritime Day will be celebrated on Thursday, 27 September 2007.