Legal Committee, 101st session, 28 April to 2 May 2014 (closing remarks)

(Thursday, 1 May 2014)

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,
I am pleased to take this opportunity to offer a few observations at the end of another successful session of the Legal Committee. 
At the beginning of this week we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). A number of participants to the event were IMLI graduates and we are constantly reminded that the Institute continues to be an international centre for the training of specialists in maritime law, the development and dissemination of knowledge and expertise in the international regime of merchant shipping, related areas of maritime law and the general law of the sea. I was very happy that this time we could all gather in this room, together with the Director of the Institute, to celebrate this important anniversary.

You had a number of important issues on your agenda this week, and you should feel satisfied with the progress made on all of them:

• Facilitation of the entry into force and harmonized interpretation of the HNS Protocol, 2010;
• advice and guidance on issues brought to the Legal Committee in connection with the implementation of IMO instruments, in particular the 1992 CLC, 2010 HNS Convention and 2007 Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention; and
• places of refuge.
On the HNS issue, I am pleased that the Committee decided to reconstitute the formal Correspondence Group with some robust terms of reference and expressed an appetite to work further on this issue at the next sessions.  As I said at the beginning of the week, what is needed now is a firm decision, once and for all, to promptly prepare for ratification and national implementation of the 2010 HNS Convention by action of all Member States to bring this instrument into force.
I am delighted that the Committee has approved the Guidelines for accepting documentation from insurance companies, financial security providers and P&I Clubs in respect of the Bunkers, CLC, HNS and Nairobi Wreck Removal Conventions. The guidelines will provide a useful tool for States Parties when considering the financial standing of insurance companies, other financial providers and P&I Clubs outside the International Group, and represents the common criteria a State Party could use in order to acknowledge inter alia Blue Cards from P&I Clubs outside the International Group.
I am pleased that the Committee once more stressed the importance of the existing framework of international conventions including the 1992 Civil Liability and Fund Conventions, the 2001 Bunkers Convention, the 2010 HNS Convention, and the 2007Nairobi Wrecks Removal Convention for the issue of Places of refuge. All efforts therefore should be concentrated on the effective implementation of all these treaties, including the rapid entry into force of the 2010 HNS Convention.
This year the interest of the Committee concentrated on the implementation of IMO conventions.
Let me express, therefore, one more time my satisfaction with the fact that the 2002 Athens Convention entered into force just a week before the Committee meeting. It is also very welcome news that the conditions for entry into force of the 2007 Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention have been met and that this Convention will come into force next year. I, once again, strongly encourage your Governments to consider accession to these treaties, to ensure that the regimes apply globally.
During this week you had also considered draft Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum aimed at the wider ratification and smooth implementation of the SUA treaties as well as the Draft Law for Coastguard/Maritime Police emanating from the Kampala Process as a part of the counter piracy activities. These two initiatives form another tool to assist Governments in combating maritime terrorism and piracy and enhance the safety of shipping.
With regards to seafarers’ rights, this Committee noted the  amendments adopted by the ILO’s Special Tripartite Committee, ensuring that appropriate and adequate social provisions are in place – and enforceable – to protect the most indispensable and the most deserving people working for the benefit of global shipping. This was reached also thanks to the clearly demonstrated commitment of the IMO-ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group resulting in the amendments to the 2006 ILO Maritime Labour Convention.

Distinguished delegates,
I thank and congratulate all of you for your contributions during this session. I am sure you will agree that a special tribute is due to your Chairman, Mr. Kofi Mbiah of Ghana.  He has demonstrated outstanding abilities in leading your deliberations with patience, sound judgement and good humour.  Thank you, Kofi, for your leadership in delivering to the high standards expected from this Organization.  The Committee has certainly been wise in re-electing you as its Chairman for next year.
Sincere thanks are also due to the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Mr. Walter de Sá Leitão of Brazil for his commitment. And I congratulate him for his well-deserved re election.
To those delegates who are leaving us, I express my sincere thanks for your contributions to the work of the Committee and the Organization and wish you all the best. 
Last but not least, I cannot forget to mention my appreciation of the efforts of all the staff in the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division including its acting Director, to whom I will revert in a moment, and those of our colleagues in the Conference Division – involving the Documents Control and Production Section, Meeting Services, the Translation Sections, and the Terminology and Reference Section.  And, of course, the interpreters, whose skills to facilitate our communicating effectively never cease to amaze.
As you may be aware, our Acting Director of the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division, Mr. Librando is due to retire in a few months.
Mr Librando obtained a Law degree from the University of Rome in 1980.
His experience with international organizations started in 1983, when he joined the Intergovernmental Bureau for Informatics (IBI) in its legal service until that organization ceased to exist in 1988.
Gaetano joined IMO as a staff member on 7 January 1989 as a Legal Officer in LED.  Gaetano was promoted to P.5 after one year in January 1990 and was promoted again to D.1 in January 2006.  Since the start of this year he has ably acted as Director for LED fully complying with my expectations.
I would like to pay a very special tribute to Gaetano for his unfailing support and dedication to the Organization over the past 26 years. I am sure many of you would agree that he is one of the kindest and most gentle of staff members in IMO; always praised for his willingness to offer his advice and assistance. Gaetano has always been willing to provide help to anyone at any time in the interest of the Organization and delegations. It would not be unusual to see him at his office very late in the evenings and over the weekends. He has never lost his enthusiasm and commitment.
He will also be remembered by his staff for his calmness and great generosity (as well as great skill, ability and experience – and providing great tasting tiramisu and lasagne).
I am sure you will all join me today in wishing him the very best in the next chapter of his life, together with his wife, daughter and extended family.
Distinguished delegates, I wish you all a safe journey back home and look forward to seeing you next year at the 102nd session of the Committee.
Thank you.