2012 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

2012 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
26 November 2012
Opening speech by Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu
Excellencies, Chairman of the Council, Secretaries-General Emeritus, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Of all the events that we host each year here at IMO Headquarters, there is one that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest for the way it reaches out and touches our hearts.
I refer, of course, to the annual ceremony for the bestowal of the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, the event to which it is my great pleasure – indeed honour - to welcome you this evening.
Those of you who have attended this event in previous years will know what to expect. Every year, we hear remarkable stories of human endeavour, of selflessness, of courage above and beyond the call of duty. This year is no exception.  You will be reminded once again of just how great is the capacity of certain special people, who put thoughts of their own safety to one side in order to save the lives of others.
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are here to honour and pay tribute to a gallant bevy of men and women who have been nominated for their personal acts of exceptional bravery. They have shown heroism, valour, devotion to duty and altruism of the highest imaginable degree.
They come from all the four corners of the world; they are of different nationalities and different backgrounds. But what unites them all is that they share the badge of courage. Each one of them has shown his or her willingness to sacrifice everything – literally everything – with the sole objective to rescue their fellow men from the ravages of the sea. They are, truly, special people and we are privileged to be among them this evening.
This year, we received a record 40 nominations, from 15 IMO Member States and one non-governmental organization in consultative status.
The nominations were first considered by an Assessment Panel, which consisted of experts nominated by various international non-governmental organizations and was chaired by Assistant Secretary-General  and Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division, Dr. Rosalie Balkin, on my behalf.
The recommendations of the Assessment Panel were then considered by a Panel of Judges comprising the Chairmen of the various IMO Committees, under the Chairmanship of the Chairman of the Council.
The Panel of Judges unanimously agreed that, this year, two nominations stood out and that they should be joint winners. This view was endorsed by the IMO Council, when it met in June. 
Both nominations involved professional rescue workers. In each case, as you will see and hear later, they performed acts of remarkable fortitude, displaying outstanding courage and, as the name of the award suggests, truly exceptional bravery.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before we proceed to the presentation of the Awards, I should like, once again, to offer my sincere gratitude to the Government of Spain, for its generosity in supporting the scheme by subsidizing the production of the splendid silver medals that we will present to the winners of the main Award.
And, now, to the highlight of the evening – the presentation of the awards: we will invite first those who were judged worthy of Certificates of Commendation (or their representatives) to come forward to receive them.
After that, it will be our great honour to invite the winners of this year’s main award – IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, 2012 – to receive their medals.
Thank you.