Conference to adopt revised STCW Convention and Code opens in ManilaA Diplomatic Conference to consider, for adoption, major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code has been opened in Manila, Philippines, by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, on Monday, 21 June 2010.
The Conference was also addressed by His Excellency Noli De Castro, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, who gave the keynote address.
A message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he thanked the world’s 1.5 million seafarers for their contribution to society at large, was read out to the Conference.
The draft amendments to the STCW Convention and Code mark the first major revision of the two instruments since those adopted in 1995, which completely revised the original 1978 Convention and introduced the Code.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Mitropoulos said that it was highly appropriate that the Conference was being held during the IMO-designated “Year of the Seafarer”, which aims to provide the maritime community with an opportunity to pay tribute to seafarers from all over the world for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the vital part they play in the facilitation of global trade.
“The successful outcome of our week-long deliberations will, therefore, send the right message to seafarers that we keep them constantly in our minds and do care for them by, among other actions, ensuring that the treaty instruments the Conference has been convened to revise (namely, the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers and its associated Code) continue to respond satisfactorily to changing conditions and circumstances affecting their professional life – today and in the foreseeable future,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
“By following, and paying due attention to, evolving trends, challenges and demands faced by those working at the sharp end of the industry, we, at IMO and in the maritime industry at large, can assure them that regulators do understand the nature of seafaring and the pressures that come with the profession and that we approach our standard-setting task with a genuine sympathy for the work seafarers do daily, often confronting unique physical and other hazards, some largely unknown until recently (such as unwarranted detention when their ships are involved in accidents, denial of shore leave for security purposes, abandonment in ports far away from their home countries and, in particular, pirate attacks – nowadays, a priority concern for the Organization and one which forms part of the STCW revision before this Conference),” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
Mr. Mitropoulos paid particular tribute to the contribution of Filipino seafarers (who constitute more than 25% of the world total) to world trade.
He also paid due tribute to Filipino seafarers themselves, past and present, wherever in the world they might be, facing the elements, unsung heroes of an unsung industry; in particular, to the 65 Filipinos from 4 ships, who were being held hostage by Somali pirates, with the wish that they, and all other hostages, be released and repatriated soon. This same recognition and tribute also went to their families for all the sacrifices they endured when left behind alone. And he remembered also those Filipino seafarers, who had lost their lives in the line of duty – and their families, who were deprived of their natural protectors.
Philippines Vice President De Castro welcomed participants, on behalf of the Filipino people and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and emphasized the importance of the STCW Convention being one of the major pillars of existing international conventions aimed at ensuring safety at sea, maritime security and protection of the marine environment.
He added that he was confident that the conference deliberations would positively contribute to the enhancement of the STCW Convention and Code and pave the way for more robust global standards for the training and certification of seafarers, not only today but also in the years ahead.
Vice President De Castro further said, “As a major source of shipboard labour, the Philippines is strongly committed to providing competent and highly qualified seafarers to the international shipping industry, in line with the provisions and agreements of the STCW Convention and Code. Let me assure the international maritime community that the Philippines is ready to provide world-class seafarers to the international shipping industry. We are strongly committed to the IMO objectives of promoting safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.”
The Conference is being attended by more than 630 delegates from some 85 IMO Member States, as well as by observers from one non-contracting State, three Associate Members, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Commission (EC) and the League of Arab States, as well as observers from 16 non-governmental organizations.
Conference officers elected
The following were elected as officers of the Conference:
Mr. Neil Frank R. Ferrer, Executive Officer, Ocean Concern Office, Foreign Affairs Department, Republic of the Philippines, who also addressed the Conference’s opening session.
H.E. Mr. Dwight C.R. Gardiner, Permanent Representative to the IMO, Antigua and Barbuda
Mr. Koffi Bertin Tano, Director of Maritime Navigation and Seafarers, Ministry of State, Ministry for Transport, Côte d'Ivoire
Mr. Rajeev Gupta, Joint Secretary (Shipping), Government of India
Rear Admiral Giancarlo Olimbo, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Italy
Mr. Abdel Hafeez Kayssi, Director General of Land and Maritime Transport, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Lebanon
Chairman, Committee of the Whole
Rear Admiral Peter Brady, Director General, Maritime Authority of Jamaica
Vice Chairmen, Committee of the Whole
Mr. Sibrand Hassing, Senior Policy Adviser, Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Netherlands
Mr. Heping Zheng, Deputy Director General, China Maritime Safety Administration
Chairman, Drafting Committee
Ms Mayte Medina, Marine Transportation Specialist, United States Coast Guard
Other officers will be elected as the Conference progresses.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
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