IMLI Graduation Ceremony 2016,
IMO International Maritime Law Institute,
Malta, 28 May 2016
Address by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
Dear Minister for Foreign Affairs George Vella, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Joe Mizzi, President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, Deputy Minister for Transport of Ghana Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Professor Attard, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, students,
Yesterday, I made a courtesy call to his Excellency the Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, where I also met the Foreign and Transport Ministers. During the meeting the Prime Minister’s warm words for IMLI made me realize how proud he is of the presence and achievements of IMLI. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the Prime Minister.
It is a great pleasure for me to be with you on this important day, one that has such great personal significance for all those taking part – for the students, who celebrate one of the most important days in their lives so far, and for the many IMLI staff and academic faculty members. You all deserve this time to celebrate and reflect on a successful outcome to the months and years of hard work that conclude with this joyous occasion.
The International Maritime Organization is proud to have established IMLI and takes great satisfaction in its impressive achievements. I congratulate each student graduating from this fine institution today. There are now oceans of opportunities before them to make their own unique waves in the maritime world as they move onto new, exciting challenges after their time at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute.
But regardless of where your individual journeys may lead – I encourage you, the class of 2016, to keep in mind that shipping is both truly international and indispensable to the world. The people you will deal with every day in your future careers may come from any country and operate across a multitude of time zones. It is a "voyage together". As you know, a ship could be built in Asia, flagged in Europe and manned by a crew from South America.
Around 80% of global trade by volume are carried by sea and handled by ports worldwide. Shipping thereby continuously, quietly and efficiently, keeps the world's people fed, clothed, housed and entertained.
Indeed, at the start of 2015, the world's commercial fleet consisted of nearly 90,000 vessels, with a total carrying capacity of some 1.8 billion deadweight tonnage. This fleet is registered in some 150 nations and is manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality. This worldwide fleet and workforce need uniform, global standards. IMO, as the United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety, security and efficiency of shipping and the protection of the marine environment, has developed and maintains these standards.
The comprehensive array of IMO instruments define the rights and privileges and, at the same time, the duties, obligations and responsibilities of nations participating in international shipping. But, to be effective, these international standards need to be enshrined in law at the national level.
Indeed, for many of you, your ultimate goal should be to return to your countries and assist, in whatever their capacity you may find yourself, in developing and enacting implementing legislation for maritime law in your home countries. Much of your work at IMLI has been targeted towards that objective, and I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is.
As highly trained legal professionals, your work will be instrumental in helping to establish the solid legal foundations needed for the maritime sector to thrive – and a thriving maritime sector can be a very effective driver for growth and prosperity throughout an entire national economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, we only need look at some of the very impressive facts and figures arising from this academic year at IMLI to get a sense of the invaluable contribution of IMLI in this respect. During the current academic year there have been 34 LL.M. students from 26 States, with Turkmenistan represented for the first time. Three students are graduating from the Advanced Diploma programme. There are two short course participants from Brazil and one candidate graduating from the Institute's Magister Juris programme. My congratulations go to each and every one of you.
It has also been a busy and productive year for the Institute from a publishing perspective. On 21 January this year the second volume of the major IMLI Manual on International Maritime Law was published and on 24 March the third volume. I am sure these volumes, which feature detailed analysis of shipping law, will, prove to be a great contribution to the canon of international maritime law.
Dear graduates, today you are joining the eminent club that is the IMLI alumni. The contribution made by IMLI graduates since the Institute was established by IMO in 1988 cannot be understated.
Many of you will follow in your predecessors' footsteps and one day find yourselves in positions of great responsibility throughout the maritime world. Whether in commercial industry, international organizations, institutions or at IMO, an IMLI graduate's path to success is one paved by the accomplishments of your predecessors. Indeed, we see many members of the IMLI alumni at IMO meetings, where they represent their countries with great skill and diligence. For example, the current Chairman of the Legal Committee, Mr. Kofi Mbiah, is an IMLI graduate who has served the Organization with great distinction as well as, joining us today, alumni the Honorable Deputy Minister Mrs. Mogtari. Others, we are lucky enough to count as our colleagues in the Secretariat, including the Head of IMO's Legal Affairs Office.
It should also be remembered that none of this would be possible without generous financial contributions from a wide range of sponsors and donors. In this context, I am delighted to mention the Nippon Foundation, the Lloyd's Register Foundation, the CMI Charitable Trust Fund and the Swiss Government. I would also like to add the Argentinian Navy, the Government of Barbados, the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association and the Kenyan Navy – for supporting the studies of this year's candidates. My sincere thanks go to all of them, in particular, I would like to extend my special appreciation to the Government of Malta and all the Maltese people for their generous and meticulous support to IMLI which will welcome its 30-year anniversary in 2018. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to Professor Attard for his contribution and devotion to IMLI. I believe that he has succeeded to transform IMLI from a baby to a mature adult institute. Finally, I would like to thank all Board members, visiting professors and experts for their precious contribution to date.
We owe our gratitude to an Institute – complete with all of its staff, students, many supporters and donors – that has been one of the cornerstones of IMO's mission to enhance and build global capacity within the maritime sector.
Time spent learning is precious. It is never wasted. And I would like to conclude by urging all of the graduates here today to retain their thirst for knowledge. Continue on the course of hard work and dedication. But before the student becomes the professional and you return to your home countries or move to other corners of the world – take a look at the person next to you. Stay in touch with each other. Support each other. They may be a friend for life, your future colleague at an organization, or a business, or simply an invaluable contact that one day you need to call on for help. Therefore, wherever your journeys take you – see your work as part of a "voyage together".
A prosperous, safe, clean and efficient maritime sector relies on strong cooperation, collaboration and communication between all of the men and women involved.
Once again, I wish all the graduates every success in their future endeavours, and I very much look forward to meeting many of you in a professional capacity in the coming years – as that "voyage together" continues.