32nd IMO Assembly closing remarks

Closing remarks to the thirty-second regular session of the IMO Assembly

By Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

IMO Headquarters, 15 December 2021

Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

We have come to the conclusion of our remote Assembly Session. This first-ever remote Assembly session has been highly productive.

We have had more than 1,300 delegates registered and participating from across the globe.

I was also pleased to welcome those who were able to physically attend from the IMO Headquarters building.

Against the background of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this Assembly has achieved a number of important outcomes and paved the way for the work ahead in the next biennium.

And I would like to wholeheartedly thank you for your support, dedication and collaboration towards our common goals and objective!


The election of Members of the Council was conducted in a smooth and transparent, but most importantly amicable manner.

I would like to express my deepest thanks to all Member States who stood for election to the Council for their hard work, effort, and dedication, demonstrating the great interest of Member States to contribute to the work of the Organization.

I would like to congratulate the newly-elected Council Members and I look forward to working with them during the next biennium.


You adopted a revised Strategic Plan for the Organization for the six-year period 2018 to 2023 with a new strategic direction on the human element, emphasizing our critical work which needs to keep all who work in the maritime sector at the heart of our endeavours while taking into account the relevant gender considerations.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to you for adopting the Organization's result-based budget, providing us with the necessary resources to support the achievement of our ambitious goals. Let me take this opportunity to reassure you that I will continue to maintain all necessary efficiency measures in the discharge of the activities of the Organization.

You have adopted important amendments to the IMO Convention to expand the Council. This is a major milestone in the reform of the Council.

The expansion of the size of the Council to 52 will hopefully support the attainment of a representative, balanced, diverse, and efficient Council, that can support the interests of the whole membership and ensures the representation of all the major geographic areas of the world.

I urge all IMO Member States to accept these amendments to the IMO Convention as soon as possible.

You have also adopted the resolution establishing 18 May as the IMO-proclaimed International Day for Women in Maritime. This will be an important day to promote the contribution of women to maritime every year and I am looking forward to celebrating the Day next year.

In the review of the biennium, you heard about and commented on the progress made by all IMO Committees and Sub-Committees in enhancing maritime safety, and security issues, concluding with the adoption to two important resolutions on comprehensive action to address seafarers' challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as on measures needed to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships and illicit activity in the Gulf of Guinea.

You have heard about the progress made addressing digitalization and automation, legal issues, including the resolution urging action to prevent and suppress fraudulent registration and fraudulent registries and other fraudulent acts in the maritime sector.

You have heard and commented on the ongoing work on environmental issues, including the work to address GHG emissions from ships with the adoption of short-term measures, significant progress on the discussion on mid-term measure.

All of this important work will continue in the next biennium.

You have shown through your adaptability to remote sessions that IMO stands ready to continue all its essential regulatory work. Your support, dedication and collaboration throughout the past biennium is very much appreciated.


You have reviewed the capacity-building work carried out by IMO and appreciated the work of our Technical Cooperation Division and Department of Partnerships and Projects (DPP) to promote collaboration and innovation to address today's global challenges.

I am encouraged by the support that Member States, partners and donors have shown the department, since its creation in March 2020, supporting the ever-expanding portfolio of projects and partnerships, and the mobilization of resources of around $35 million, and over a dozen new partnership agreements. I look forward to seeing those initiatives grow in the next biennium.

In 2022, the World Maritime Theme will be: "New technologies for greener shipping". This will be an opportunity to promote innovation and showcase the solutions that exist, in support of decarbonization and more environmentally friendly shipping.

Recognizing the central and irreplaceable role played by the "people of the sea" and their families, who keep international shipping unimpeded, the Assembly witnessed the recognition to all seafarers and the presentation of the 2020 International Maritime Prize to Mr. Paul Sadler of the United Kingdom and IACS, and the 2021 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea to Mr. Tran Van Khoi of Viet Nam.

Distinguished delegates,

We have come to the end of a biennium unlike any other, overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I wholeheartedly thank all of you, for your support and collaboration and dedication and commitment.

I would like to express my deepest thanks and congratulations to the President of the Assembly, H.E. Mr. Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of the Philippines to IMO, for his excellent Presidency.

Special thanks also go to the first Vice-President: H.E. Ms. Linda Scott, High Commissioner and Permanent Representative of Namibia to IMO; and the second Vice-President: H.E. Mr. Raffaele Trombetta, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Italy to IMO for their support to the President.

My appreciation also goes to:

  • The Chair of Committee 1, H.E. Mr. Laurent Parenté, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Vanuatu to IMO, and Chair of TCC. And his Vice-Chair's Ambassador Genevieve Van Rossum of France and Ms. Fernanda Millicay of Argentina.

  • The Chair of Committee 2, Ms. Marina Angsell, Head of Section for International Liaison, Department of Civil Aviation and Maritime Affairs, Swedish Transport Agency, and Chair of FAL and her Vice-Chairs Ms. Claudia Grant of Jamaica and Mr. Essam Al Ammari of Saudi Arabia. 

  • And to the Chair of the Credentials Committee, Ms. Małgorzata Buszyńska,of Poland

At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge those delegates who have served as representatives in London and are going back to their respective countries:

  • Captain Heberth Araujo de Melo of Brazil;

  • Captain Javier Mardones of Chile

  • Ms. Eleftheria-Ioanna Theodosopoulou of Greece

  • Mr. Chung Siu-man, of Hong Kong, China

  • Ms. Sonia B. Malaluan of Philippines; and  

  • Mr. Samuel Soo of Singapore.

They will be sorely missed but I am sure many of you will continue to be involved with IMO in one way or another. 

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the interpreters for their excellent work; to the Cafeteria Staff, especially Catering Manager Frances Sturdy and Head Chef Kamal Ouarezki, and of course to all the Secretariat Staff, from all the divisions, who worked tirelessly largely behind the scenes, to ensure the smooth running of the Assembly.

I would also like to mention senior members of the Organization who will be retiring at the end of this year.

Let me start with Mr. Chris Trelawny.  

Before joining IMO, Chris spent six years with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and four years with the UK Government in aviation security roles.

Chris joined IMO in March 2003 as a maritime security specialist. In 2018 he was appointed to the new post of Chief, Sub-Division for Maritime Development within the Technical Cooperation Division (TCD). From January to October 2020, he was Acting Director of TCD.

Chris counts numerous accomplishments during his time at IMO, but I cannot end without mentioning his sterling efforts to raise money for good causes, by running marathons and half marathons.  

Chris, I thank you wholeheartedly, and wish you the best in your retirement.  

And now, I would like to say a few words about Ms. Ariane Gireud, Director of the Conference Division, who retires at the end of this year after more than 28 years of sterling service to IMO. 

Ariane joined the IMO Secretariat as a translator, was promoted to head of the French translation service and became Deputy Director of the Conference Division in 2013. In 2018, she was appointed Acting Director and in 2020, Director of the Conference Division.

Ariane has always been devoted to the UN principles and to the promotion of multilingualism. 

As Director of Conference, she has overseen the transition to remote sessions during the pandemic, with good humour and dedication.

Ariane, you have done a truly magnificent job in serving IMO and the United Nations family. I wish you all the very best. 

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates

I believe that we can be truly proud of our achievements over the last two years, in particular during these truly unprecedented circumstances.

With your continued support, IMO is ready for the challenges and opportunities the future of shipping will bring. I look forward to another successful biennium ahead. And hope to see you all soon in person again!

I wish all of you a happy holiday season, and a happy new year!

Thank you.