Historic maritime security conference to adopt comprehensive new security measures for international shipping

Conference of Contracting Governments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974: 9 - 13 December 2002

IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil spoke of the historic global significance of the Diplomatic Conference meeting at IMO's London Headquarters this week (9 - 13 December 2002) to adopt new measures to promote maritime and port security.

In his opening remarks to the Conference, Secretary-General O'Neil said, "The presence here today of so many distinguished Government representatives and international organization observers from all over the world demonstrates the crucial significance and importance of the Conference not only to the international maritime community but to the world community as a whole given the pivotal role shipping plays in the conduct of world trade."

He went on, "This Conference was triggered by last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. It represents the maritime nations' reaction to the unprovoked assaults on the very fabric of world society, a society which, in spite of all these provocations, is determined to live in peace guaranteed by law and order."

Mr O'Neil said he believed it would be a historic Conference, both from the point of view of the volume of work IMO has been able to accomplish in the short time since the 11 September attacks and also, and even more importantly, from the point of view of the substance of the material prepared to allow the Conference to make its decisions. "The expeditious response and the progress made on the review and development of the necessary regulatory framework, as well as in the preparation and implementation of the IMO technical co?operation project to provide for awareness and capacity-building in developing countries, has shown IMO at its very best," said Mr O'Neil. He added, "It proves that we are able, beyond any doubt, to focus on real needs as they emerge in today's world and, more importantly, to deliver. I am confident that this Conference will succeed in adding the maritime community's contribution to the wish of the world to live in peace."

The full text of Mr O'Neil's opening speech is available on request.

Background
The high-level Diplomatic Conference opened at IMO Headquarters in London yesterday to adopt a package of security measures for the international maritime and port industries. The measures represent the culmination of just over a year's intense work by IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and its Intersessional Working Group since the terrorist atrocities in the United States in September 2001.

The Conference will be invited to adopt amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS). Among the most far-reaching of these is the proposed International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code which would be implemented through a new chapter of the Convention.
The Conference opened with a Plenary session. The Committee of the Whole commenced work in the afternoon of Monday, 9 December 2002, following conclusion of the Plenary and will continue to work until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 11 December 2002. A Drafting Committee will hold meetings in the afternoon of Tuesday, 10 and Wednesday, 11 December 2002.

The Plenary will reconvene on Thursday, 12 December to consider the reports of the Committees and adopt the proposed amendments to SOLAS, the ISPS Code and the associated Conference resolutions. The Plenary will also adopt the Final Act of the Conference for signature by SOLAS Contracting Governments. The SOLAS Contracting Governments present at the Conference will be invited to sign the Final Act of the Conference at the Conference's final session on Friday, 13 December.

Conference officials

The following were elected as officers of the Conference, Committee of the Whole and Drafting Committee:

Conference - President
Mr. J. Franson (Sweden)

Conference - Vice-Presidents
Mr. William J.S. Elliott (Canada); Mr. Mitsuo Nakamoto (Japan); Her Excellency Mrs. Alma Rosa Moreno-Razo (Mexico); Professor Marek Szymonski (Poland); His Excellency Mr. El Hadj Amadou Niang (Senegal).

Committee of the Whole - Chairman
Mr. Frank Wall (United Kingdom)

Drafting Committee - Chairman
Mr. N. Charalambous (Cyprus)

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