Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), 2nd session, 2-6 February 2015 (opening address)


2 TO 6 FEBRUARY 2015

Thank you Mr Chairman, good morning distinguished delegates, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the second session of the HTW Sub-Committee. 

We are already moving into February and I am sure you are firmly into the regular state of business. The second session of this Sub-Committee is another important meeting to explore the new ways of your meeting arrangements. Before I touch on the issues on the agenda of your Sub-Committee, I want to share my views of the achievements of this Organization over more than half a century. What we have achieved is really, in my view, a global system of maritime governance. 

This is a system of sharing responsibilities. In the five and a half decades of activities, IMO has made significant achievements in the fields of governance over international shipping and the maritime world. UNCLOS established a legal framework in 1982, but it was IMO that created the current international order in the shipping and maritime industries. IMO has a function, as expected, as the competent international organization under the provisions of UNCLOS, but the activities of IMO have not been restricted by UNCLOS and we have moved beyond the provisions of UNCLOS. The current international order was created together with ILO. Now shipowners can register ships anywhere as long as the flag State Administrations fully implement IMO regulations, they can also recruit seafarers from any country as long as the training institutions fully implement the STCW requirements, and seafarers are holders of the appropriate certificates. 

Shipping is international and global, not national and not regional. This is the current structure of governance for international shipping and this is what IMO has achieved over the last half a century. Flag States, port States, coastal states and Member Governments implementing STCW requirements for their training institutions are sharing responsibilities for international governance. It is a global system for the implementation of global standards adopted at IMO, providing a level playing field to the shipping industry and assurance that no State would go for unilateral action to impose national or regional requirements or standards. States responsible for training seafarers have international responsibilities and obligations. Without IMO we could not have maintained this system of maritime governance.

Touching upon maritime casualties, in 2014, last year, the total number of maritime accidents increased by 10% in comparison with the previous year, according to the statistics provided. The IMO Secretariat recorded 799 lives lost or missing last year. If you look at the statistics over the last decade from 2004-2014, 4,784 lives were lost on passenger transport by sea. Obviously the human element must have played a part in those accidents. And my question is, are we doing well? We must always ask this question of ourselves. Can we improve the current status? Can we meet future challenges? I will be raising these questions to the Maritime Safety Committee. What is necessary is not just to consider the established work programme as business as usual, we need to have a debate to recognize the current status through the eyes of our critics, and to explore the future with a view to making improvements in the work of IMO. 

Take a look at 15 years ahead, 2030, what will the volume of trade be in 2030? Obviously nobody can tell, but amongst the approximately half million officers available today, probably 150,000 would have left by 2030 due to retirement. Just to maintain the current workforce of officers, 10,000 new officers must be trained and provided every year to fill the gap created by retiring officers. If seaborne trade expands by 70% by 2030 then we need to train and produce 40,000 officers every year. If seaborne trade expands just by 35% by 2030, we will still need to train and produce 25,000 new officers every year. Maritime training is absolutely fundamental for sustainable shipping. At IMO, we have established the STCW Convention. We are producing model courses, we are doing regular assessment for compliance under the so-called ‘White List’ mechanism under the STCW Convention and we are always aiming at maintaining the highest standards at training institutes.  

Port States enforcement is also an important part of the global system. The soon-to-be-mandatory Audit Scheme will be implemented for IMO Member States responsibilities, which will be an additional pillar to support the global system of maritime governance. We have made significant achievements over the last half decade but general debate is still necessary for capacity building on how to maintain global standards in coming generations of seafarers.

This year’s World Maritime Day theme is ‘’Maritime Education and Training’’. Dr. Srivastava was a truly great Secretary-General and during his term in office, in 1978, the STCW Convention was established and he brought the vision of participants in the STCW Sub-Committee into a real institution that is the World Maritime University (WMU). 

In 1983, WMU was established with the original vision that that education institution would educate maritime leaders. 
During the time of Mr. O’Neil, the STCW 1995 Amendments were adopted, with the mechanisms of regular review of status of compliance, and during the time of Mr. Mitropoulos, the Manila Amendments were adopted. This is great historically, but we must move on and meet new challenges. Now we have created a new Sub-Committee Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW). We are breaking new ground to build on the success story of the STCW Sub-Committee and build the required system on the basis of those past achievements. In this context I would like to highlight some of the important issues on your agenda. 

The importance of ensuring that guidance in IMO model courses properly reflects the competencies required to be demonstrated by seafarers to meet the standards of the STCW Convention and Code cannot be overemphasized. In this context I would like to encourage the Sub-Committee to validate five updated model courses submitted to this session so that the training providers have the necessary guidance at the earliest opportunity, to develop training programmes meeting the standards in the STCW Convention and Code. Also I would like to extend my appreciation to the coordinators, USA, Turkey and IMLA, for their contribution to the Organization’s efforts to update model courses. I encourage the Sub-Committee to complete a holistic review of the outdated current guidance and prepare practical and functional guidelines for future development and updating of model courses to facilitate effective implementation of the SCW Convention and Code. 

I urge the Sub-Committee to develop a practical, user-friendly GISIS module to reduce the administrative burden related to reporting and information communication obligations of Parties to the STCW Convention. I also encourage the finalization of the certification and training requirements for officers and crew serving onboard ships operating in polar waters for inclusion in Chapter V of the STCW Convention and I urge the Sub-Committee to take note of the lessons learnt from the Costa Concordia and other recent accidents, and their impact on the current international regulations for the safety of passenger ships; and complete the development of training requirements for seafarers onboard passenger ships as soon as possible to address the challenges posed by the increased size of modern cruise ships and the large number of passengers onboard.

And finally I urge the Sub-Committee to take account of the practical difficulties faced by seafarers due to fatigue and the catastrophic results due to human error, and take a pragmatic approach for a holistic review and revision of the Organization’s Guidelines on Fatigue and develop relevant guidance on risk-assessed practical measures for the mitigation of fatigue on board in a timely manner.   

Just one final thing I would like to mention in this opening address is WMU. As you know, I have initiated the study on the sustainability of the WMU. The WMU is the institution to teach leadership and maritime policy established by this Organization. Its role is not to ensure that the maritime transportation system has sufficient maritime experts. The capacity of WMU cannot produce the required large number of maritime experts. That is the responsibility of the national academies or universities. But in this context, relationships and sharing responsibility with national universities and training institutes is an important subject. This week we are hosting a meeting of IAMU, the International Association of Maritime Universities, to discuss this issue so that any outcome will be reflected in the sustainability study for the WMU. The construction of the new campus is making steady progress and we are certain now that an inauguration of the new campus will be held on 19 May this year. The University is preparing a conference on maritime education and training on the new campus, immediately after the inauguration ceremony. Necessary information will be issued shortly so that interested delegations may consider participating in this event in Malmӧ, Sweden. You are aware that I have appointed Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry to the post of President of WMU. I am sure she will bring a fresh wind and I am looking forward to working closely with her. 

We are also considering new ways of promoting seafaring and maritime professionals as activities of this year. The Day of the Seafarer on the 25 June is our focus for the promotion of seafarers on social media. We are considering something different this year in relation to the World Maritime Day, for example an open day at IMO for school children and a symposium in September on maritime education and training amongst other ideas. We are also considering the idea of ‘’IMO Ambassadors’’ to be appointed in IMO Member States to carry out a serious campaign for the promotion of international shipping and the maritime industry. These are initiatives of the Secretariat currently under discussion, and I am looking forward to progress so that we may be able to launch any one of such initiatives. 

Distinguished delegates, your contributions would be also highly appreciated and welcomed. 

In view of the recent terrorism incident in Paris and the tightened security level in this country, we have strengthened our security measures applied at headquarters buildings. Although the threat level to the United Nations is still minimal, delegates are requested to remain vigilant during their stay in London. 

Finally, as usual I will host the evening cocktail reception today after close of business this afternoon and all of you are cordially invited to the reception. 

Thank you Mr. Chairman.