Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) – 43rd session, 30 April - 4 May 2012

Opening address


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, good morning distinguished delegates. I would like to welcome all of you to this session of the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping.
This year promises to be a remarkable year here in the United Kingdom, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This year is also remarkable in the context of the global debate on sustainable development. In 1972, already 40 years ago, the United Nations organized the first ever United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm; and  10 years later, in 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was adopted; and then a further 10 years later, in 1992, the Earth Summit at Rio was held where discussion on sustainable development and agenda 21 was held; and 10 years later still, in 2002, we went to the summit on sustainable development,  organized in South Africa (Johannesburg), and this year we return to Rio to talk about sustainability once again.
I believe that this is a good opportunity for the shipping community and this Organization to highlight the contribution the shipping industry is making to ensure sustainable prosperity of human beings and the global economy. Without shipping, we cannot really think about the future of the economy. So, it is really important for us to go to Rio+20 and highlight the important work the shipping industry is carrying out as well as the importance of this Organization.
The subject of sustainable development covers many grounds, in particular when it comes to shipping. We need to ensure the global standards to be adopted by this Organization: energy efficiency, new technology, innovation and maritime education and training, which have direct relevance to your activities here. Nowadays, we have to handle piracy. Maritime security is an important element which may underpin continuous development of international shipping.  Maritime traffic  control and management and also infrastructure for various countries, including developed and developing countries, are important elements for sustainable shipping. To ensure good infrastructure for maritime development, it is really important to sustain a continuous sound development for international shipping.
Looking more closely at seafarers: we know the shipping industry is supported by approximately 1.5 million seafarers.
Looking back 40 years, the statistics show that seaborne world trade has quadrupled over the period. Looking 40 years ahead from today – to 2050 –  seaborne world trade is expected to grow and the current level of volumes of cargo may double, even using a modest estimate. If the volume doubles, then obviously we can expect to need double the number of seafarers. We now have 1.5 million seafarers and, even with a conservative estimate, we will probably need another 1 million, at least half of which will need to be well-trained and competent officers.
It is really a daunting task. Over the next 40 years, we have to generate 1 million highly-trained seafarers. Without them, we cannot sustain shipping and we cannot sustain the globe. This requires very important work from all of us to ensure the supply of high quality  seafarers and every year we have to educate, train and release more than 20,000 highly-qualified officers. So this is the field in which we need to continue to work together to meet these goals.

Moving now to other issues.  From the beginning of my tenure as Secretary-General, I mentioned that what is important for all of us is creative work, joint work and collaboration. And I have adopted changes on my part.  For example, I prefer to talk to you rather than reading a prepared statement. This way, I sense I can get across my message more efficiently.  And also I revived the Monday evening cocktail receptions and express my thanks to the ISF today who will be providing a reception after their presentation this evening. I believe that a cocktail reception on the first evening is a very important function of international meetings to enable delegates to get together in a very informal way and talk about real things.
I will continue to explore new ways of handling our business and seeking your support.  The one thing, taking this opportunity, I would like to mention is this.  IMO is a forum but this forum is not just for annual meetings and to talk.  IMO is a United Nations specialized agency to deal with real things.  Not an image but reality, and addressing real threats, and real improvements. 
Turning now to an issue of concern to us all and particularly the world’s seafarers: piracy.  Piracy off the coast of Somalia is a real threat to international shipping.  For that issue, IMO is making progress in capacity-building as the United Nations body responsible for discussing all aspects of our fight against piracy.  Currently, the most important issue on our agenda is arms on board and the employment of  privately contracted armed security personnel. 
As you can imagine, there are many legal and practical issues: how to regulate the security guards; the issue of innocent passage; the transfer of weapons; how to handle weapons in port; the authority of the master; and whether we will involve seafarers in the fight; and the responsibilities of the chief of security team, rules of engagement and certification of security guards.  We must decide whether the matter should be left to national regulation or the industry's self-regulation or should international regulations be developed.  These are very important issues.  It is a challenge we have to face and we need to discuss from a high-level policy point of view.
In order to allow this high-level discussion, I have taken the initiative and we are organizing a high-level segment of the Maritime Safety Committee on the first day of  its ninetieth session on 16 May. We issued document MSC 90/20/7 on 8 March this year.  If your government has decided to send high-level participation, please inform the Secretariat in advance, in particular at ministerial level.  We have set the target for receipt of this information as last Friday 27th April, and would welcome any additional information from those who have yet to provide it in advance.
We have very serious issues at hand.  Discussions may touch upon national security policy  and the scope of the discussion at MSC on this important issue will go well beyond the scope of maritime administrations’ responsibilities on the matter of shipping.  This, therefore, requires a really high-level policy debate, first of all at home in your capitals, within the ministries, and then secondly at an international level here at the Maritime Safety Committee.
In order to organize the high-level discussion, I have spoken to your ambassadors and high commissioners, and to the various people  and when I have opened IMO meetings.    I am expecting a good turnout of ministers and vice-ministers and to produce an atmosphere in which, as a responsible body of the international community, the Maritime Safety Committee will debate the issues and reach some sort of consensus.
So I make a plea to the participants in this opening session of the Sub Committee to please raise the importance of this issue in your capital, to your ministers and to the top of your Government, so that the views of your Government will be reflected in the very important debate at the Maritime Safety Committee.
Coming now to the agenda of your Sub-Committee, this is your first meeting since the Manila amendments entered into force on 1 January 2012, and I would  like to reiterate the importance of your Sub-Committee in ensuring uniform implementation of the STCW Convention, which is fundamentally important for training a future generation of seafarers. 
On IMO model courses, at this session I understand you are expected to validate eight model courses that have been upgraded and to provide the necessary guidance to maritime administrations and training institutions.  I take this opportunity to extend my appreciation for the work done by the coordinators, including Australia, India, the United States and GlobalMet, who have assisted the Organization by undertaking the development of new and the review and updating of existing model courses.
And,  also at this session,  you are expected to develop relevant guidance for the implementation of the 2010 Manila Amendments, including those related to the revised medical standards.  I urge you to make every effort to provide the most appropriate guidance to the parties and their maritime education and training providers, shipowners and managers, to facilitate the maintenance of the standards of competence and quality required for the seafarers and by the industry.
One of the most important aspects of this week is that you have an agenda item on the human element.  MSC 89 in principle agreed to entrust your Sub-Committee to take a leading and coordinating role for the implementation of the Organization's strategy to address the human element.  MEPC 63 concurred with this direction, subject to a review of this arrangement after a few years, to decide if it has achieved expected objectives.  
In my view, the Sub-Committee has to take a holistic approach to human element issues to include all aspects including the entire chain of responsibility and not just to restrict it only to training issues.
On the other important items featured on your agenda this week, I would like to highlight consideration of the Committee's instruction to consider how the STCW Convention could be amended to make the IMO instrument implementation (III) Code  and auditing mandatory.  Your advice to the Committee will go a long way towards the process of institutionalization of the IMO Member State Audit Scheme.
Also on your agenda is the development of the E navigation Strategy Implementation Plan. The timeline for development of the plan for e-navigation has not been met and I am concerned that the gap analyses have still to be completed.  The progress on this matter has been slow and I reiterate the importance of remaining focused on preparing the final draft list of gaps which are relevant to the training aspects and to defining the way forward.  Only with clearly defined scope and strategy, will the Organization be in a position to deliver a realistic implementation plan acceptable to Member Governments and within a reasonable time frame, so therefore my plea is to accelerate the discussion on this very important issue regarding E navigation strategy implementation.
Now, distinguished delegates, it is with deep regret that I learned of the passing of Rev. Tom Heffer, the Secretary-General of the Mission to Seafarers on 23 April.  Since becoming the Secretary-General of that Organization, Tom made sure that the Mission remained true in providing the best possible services and care to seafarers of the merchant fleet.  Seafarers all over the world will miss him as he always had an immediate rapport with people, instantly making them feel at ease and that they were in the company of a friend.  On behalf of the entire membership of IMO, I wish to convey our condolences to his wife and daughter as well as to the Mission to Seafarers. 
Distinguished delegates, before I conclude my opening remarks I cannot close without paying tribute to your Chairman, who is, as some of you are already aware, stepping down after this year from the post of Chairman.  Let me start by bringing to your notice that, not merely once but twice he, as at that time the Vice-Chairman, was called upon to undertake the duty of chairing the Sub Committee meeting, with literally no notice and he immediately took on this responsibility and he performed superbly. 
He chaired those meetings with such diplomacy and efficiency that the Sub-Committee had no hesitation to elect him as the Chairman unanimously at the thirty-fifth session and continued to elect him so that we see his face every time chairing a meeting.  I would like to record, on behalf of the entire membership of this Organization, myself and the Secretariat, a deep appreciation for his unstinting and tireless effort and achievement of this Sub Committee, and not only this Sub Committee, but also for the range of activities of the International Maritime Organization in which he has contributed.  So, thank you Peter for letting me take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation.  With that, distinguished delegates, I conclude today's opening remarks and my final comment is to wish you all the best for a productive week.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.