Extraordinary Session of All Committees (ALCOM), 6-18, 21 September 2020 (opening and closing remarks)

Opening remarks, by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim
16 September 2020

Distinguished delegates, good morning, good afternoon, good evening:

Before the extraordinary session of all of the Committees opens, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to what will be our first formal virtual meeting, that you will be holding to discuss administrative matters to facilitate the holding of regular virtual sessions of all Committees in the coming months.

I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy to the delegation of the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia on the loss of the Gulf Livestock 1 during Typhoon Maysak, with 40 crew still missing, two rescued and one confirmed fatality. I send my deepest sympathies to all their families and loved ones. I commend those involved in the search and rescue operations. IMO is monitoring the ongoing situation and stands ready to offer any technical assistance that may be needed.

I would also like to express my sympathies to the delegation of Mauritius for the oil spill affecting them, following the break-up of the MV Wakashio. We will continue to provide the necessary assistance and I commend all those involved in the international efforts to support the Government of Mauritius to mitigate the negative impact. I look forward to a full investigation into these incidents so that the results and findings can be brought to IMO and we can act on any recommendations accordingly.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to the maritime industry and especially seafarers for their devotion and service during these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts and sacrifices keep the world trade flowing, enabling the delivery of essential goods, including food, medicines and medical supplies.

Coming back to today’s meeting, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all IMO Member States who requested to meet in this extraordinary session, to demonstrate that IMO is ready and working hard to continue its mission, progress on its policy issues, and especially that we won’t let the inability to meet in person stop us from advancing on our work.

Taking into account the constraints imposed globally due to COVID-19, and the restrictions which have necessarily been imposed on travel, as well as the profound changes it has brought to our traditional working methods, the IMO Secretariat is doing its best to serve Member States and ensure IMO is prepared to address the challenges to our industry as effectively and expediently as possible.

During the session today, which will be held with simultaneous interpretation in our six official languages and will last for 3 hours. I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will be ever-present and under the able leadership of the MSC Chair Mr. Brad Groves and of the other Committee Chairs or Vice-Chairs, namely the MEPC Chair Mr. Hideaki Saito, the LEG Vice-Chair Ms. Gillian Grant, the TC Chair Mr. Laurent Parente and the FAL Chair Ms. Marina Angsell, we will be able to have an open and informative discussion and will be able to find an agreement on the agenda items under consideration to pave the way to progress on IMO’s work in the following months.

Thank you.



Distinguished delegates, good morning, good afternoon, good evening:

As we are approaching the end of this unique extraordinary session of all our IMO committees, the first ever event of this kind in the history of the Organization, I would like to express my appreciation to all of you for your great efforts under these unprecedented circumstances. I am pleased that so many of you have engaged in these fruitful discussions and ensured a successful outcome. While the discussions were sometimes not easy they are very important for the future of this Organization and the important work we undertake.

Now, more than ever, we need a global response to the issues which the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief, in particular the necessity to continue with our vital work in our committees, making use of the technologies available.

Your unanimous decision to waive the relevant rules of procedure of the committees and your agreement on an Interim guidance to facilitate remote sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic will allow us to conduct regular sessions of all committees in the coming months and thus progress on IMO’s key policy issues. I am certain that this clear demonstration of our Organization’s ability to overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the resulting travel restrictions, will be noticed and appreciated by the maritime community, which relies on us to develop international standards and guidance, now more than ever. I also believe you have developed policies and procedures that are a model to be emulated by other United Nations agencies.

Special thanks are due to the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the committees for their guidance and support during these discussions, in particular to the Chair of the MSC, Mr. Brad Groves of Australia, who led the proceedings with his usual efficiency and good humour. I believe we have benefitted from your clear steerage through the multitude of views expressed to reach a set of decisions which will support the regular sessions of the committees so that they may continue their important work.

I would also like to thank the Secretariat staff for their support in the preparation of this meeting, and in particular the interpreters for their excellent work under these new conditions.

I am also impressed by the ease with which you all have taken to the new technologies we now have to utilize for our meetings.

Even when we must work to overcome challenges with the new technologies, you came through with the true “IMO Spirit” to complete your work and for this, I congratulate you.

As much as I personally look forward to the day when we can all greet each other again as friends and colleagues in the IMO Headquarters, until that time, from myself and the Secretariat, I would like to extend thanks once again for your incredible efforts to support the Secretariat in exploring these new methods of working, utilizing new technologies, and for your patience and understanding when we experience some difficulties and setbacks from time to time.

Thank you.