Technical Co-operation Committee (TC) 64th session (opening address)

11 to 13 June 2014

Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers.
As you may be aware, I have identified a number of activities on which I wish to see the Organization making further progress as a matter of priority in this biennium, such as our continued preparations for the transition to the mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme and the verification of the mandatory goal-based ship construction standards for tankers and bulk carriers. I have also accorded high priority to accelerating implementation of the Energy Efficiency Design Index – for which we are planning another, multi-million dollar GEF project this year.
The suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships at sea calls for enhanced efforts off the coasts of west and central Africa where both the number and the increasingly violent nature of attacks have been on the rise. The adoption by the Assembly, last November, of resolution A.1069 on this pressing issue has been timely and I am grateful for the generous donations received by the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund.
Distinguished delegates,
I am deeply concerned about the current, high level of approximately 1,000 lives lost in accidents at sea every year and I therefore wish the Organization’s top priority to be the reduction of this appalling figure by half, with the primary aim of saving the lives of passengers as well as those of seafarers.
In this context, the heavy loss of life of mostly young students from the recent capsizing of the Sewol ferry off the west coast of the Republic of Korea has saddened me.
Last month, in my opening address at the Maritime Safety Committee, I expressed my personal view that the time has come for IMO to take further action to improve the safety of domestic passenger ships, which often carry hundreds of people. The safety requirements of the 1974 SOLAS Convention do not automatically apply to domestic passenger ships and their safety standards are left to the discretion of the Government of each country concerned.
Although the issue is complex and much more work needs to be done, the indisputable fact remains that the loss of lives statistics are grim: there have been 2,932 lives lost in domestic ferry accidents around the world in just the last two and a half years alone, according to my own count.
As you know, we have established, under the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, a generic set of regulations and model national legislation for ships not covered by the IMO conventions, the so called GlobalRegs. In addition, the ITCP includes a specific project on operational safety of domestic ferries and I very much appreciate the support we have received, thus far, from Interferry and others in this regard.
My firm view is that the current ITCP project on domestic ferry safety should be strengthened and refocused by adding a new element, namely, the development of a set of recommended minimum standards for application to domestic passenger ferries together with guidelines on various safety issues such as issues to be addressed when purchasing a second-hand existing ship for domestic ferry operations.
The recommendations and guidelines should cover design, engineering, structural modifications, operation, manning, training, and survey and certification. Such recommendations and guidelines should be developed in cooperation with the Government of a Member State concerned, which is interested in implementing them at the national level. The standards should be such that they can be easily adapted for the needs of other interested Member States.
I am looking for some countries to come forward for voluntary but proactive engagement in this project, as model countries to develop such recommendations and guidelines to enhance safety of domestic passenger ships. IMO will, within the constraints of the available resources, continue to assist Member States by providing expert technical support; therefore, the involvement and active engagement of Member States in this project is essential for its success and I hope that I can count on your support.
Distinguished delegates,
This year’s World Maritime Day theme, which is “IMO conventions: effective implementation”, has as its principal message that our work does not stop with the adoption of a new treaty instrument, nor does it stop with its entry into force. The benefits of adopted IMO conventions will only spread around the world through prompt and wide ratification and, once a convention has entered into force, through full and effective implementation of all its provisions.
The theme offers a strong incentive to work harder to achieve fulfilment of the ratification requirements for IMO conventions that have not yet entered into force, notwithstanding the considerable time and effort spent on their development. I would highlight, in particular, the 2004 Ballast Water Management Convention, the 2009 Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling, the 2010 HNS Convention and the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on the Implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol for the safety of fishing vessels.
You may be aware from the IMO website that I attended the opening session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) on Monday this week in Rome, and in my opening speech, I asked Ministers in charge of the fishing industry and the fishing industry itself to support the Cape Town Agreement and accelerate the process of ratification. I discussed with FAO Director-General, Mr. José Graziano da Silva, as to how IMO and FAO could work together to bring the Cape Town Agreement into force as soon as possible, so that FAO and IMO could help eradicate IUU fishing.
On the Ballast Water Management Convention, I received two pieces of good news yesterday. One from Japan, my home country, and another from the country which currently holds the Presidency of the IMO Assembly that is Turkey. The President of the IMO Assembly, Ambassador Çeviköz brought this news to me yesterday. Governments of both countries have now passed the legislation to approve ratification of the BWM Convention. The instrument for ratification will be received in the near future. Both countries together count for 2.28% of the world fleet in registered tonnage and the combined total tonnage per cent of contracting States would become 32.5% against the entry into force threshold of 35%. We are definitely making progress.
Of equal importance is the theme’s message to the Organization, Member States and the industry at large to achieve better results in ensuring wider and more complete implementation of those conventions that are in force. This goes of course to the heart of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, which continues to do excellent work with limited resources. In this regard, I feel encouraged by the progress in completing the Country Maritime Profiles, bearing in mind that the information they provide will largely determine the future allocation of technical assistance resources.
So far, 69 out of the 170 Member States and also the three Associate Members have successfully completed their Country Maritime Profile in GISIS. This represents a success rate of about 40%. Encouraging as this is, there is still a lot more to be done and I would urge all those countries that are yet to complete and submit their maritime profile data to do so at the earliest possible time.
As you are all aware, the envisaged mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme will be another important tool for assessing individual Member States’ needs for technical assistance, based on their performance in meeting their obligations and responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States under the relevant IMO treaties. It is expected that the Scheme will be a useful exercise, in particular, for developing countries. The identification of any shortcomings or gaps in their performance should help them in better targeting their requests for technical assistance so that available resources may be channelled to where they are most needed.
Distinguished delegates,
It is envisaged that after becoming mandatory, the Audit Scheme would lead to an increase in the requests for technical assistance and consequently to the need to increase the overall size of the ITCP and the funds necessary to deliver it. In this regard, I wish to urge Member States, organizations and industry stakeholders to put in place, from now, arrangements through which they can make additional contributions to the ITCP.
Meanwhile, I am sure the Committee will be pleased to know that the Organization has completed all legislative frameworks to bring the mandatory Audit Scheme to fruition in 2016, as we have planned all along, thanks to diligent efforts to finalize the necessary regulatory work on time. The last session of the Assembly adopted the Code for Implementation of IMO Instruments, the Framework and Procedures for the IMO Member State Audit Scheme and related amendments to the COLREGs, Load Lines and Tonnage Conventions. Since then, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, in April this year, adopted amendments to all six MARPOL Annexes and the Maritime Safety Committee, last month, similarly completed its part of the necessary regulatory work by adopting the relevant amendments to the SOLAS and STCW Conventions and other instruments. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2016 and the IMO Member State Audit Scheme will become a reality.
I now wish to highlight several important agenda items for this session requiring your careful attention. They include, in particular:
• the annual report on the ITCP’s delivery during 2013;
• sustainable financing of the ITCP;
• linkage between the ITCP and the Millennium Development Goals;
• partnerships for progress; and
• capacity building to enhance the contribution of women in the maritime sector.
Specifically, the 2013 ITCP report details some 292 activities delivered, planned and/or ongoing, corresponding to a total expenditure of approximately US$15.3 million. These figures represent an 87% delivery rate of the ITCP for the year under review. In addition, 1,636 senior officials attended various capacity-building events aimed at developing and harmonizing national and regional strategies on a range of maritime-related technical issues. It is also very satisfying that a total of 79 students completed fellowships in the maritime field through the World Maritime University, the IMO International Maritime Law Institute, IMSSEA and other training institutions. These individuals are expected to bring their knowledge and experience to bear on the maritime authorities in their respective countries so that they are better equipped to execute their duties and responsibilities in accordance with international standards.
In considering a report on the sustainable financing of the ITCP, the Committee may note that there are currently seven multi-donor trust funds in place and operational and 14 other financial arrangements which, together, provide some US$6.5 million as voluntary contributions to the ITCP. In addition, cash donations made to specific activities amounted to some US$480,000.
I can assure you that the Secretariat has continued to make every possible effort to ensure the long-term financing of the ITCP so as to be in a position to respond effectively to the outcomes of future audits under the mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme and the increased expectations for technical assistance from the introduction of the Country Maritime Profiles.
Distinguished delegates,
The Organization’s commitment to assist developing countries in meeting their obligations under IMO instruments to which they are party goes back to the days of the first session of the Assembly and is an integral part of its work. The Secretariat will continue to strive for efficient delivery of the ITCP.
It remains for me to wish you every success in your work at this session. I have no doubt that you will give due attention and deliberation to all the agenda items in the usual manner and that Mrs. Nancy Karigithu of Kenya, your Chairman, together with Mr. Zulkurnain Ayub of Malaysia, your Vice-Chairman, will be able to count on your cooperation for another successful session. I thank you in advance for this. For our part, we, as the Secretariat, will support both Mrs. Karigithu and the work at this session to the best of our abilities.
Before I conclude, I would like to remind all delegates that in two weeks’ time we will celebrate the Day of the Seafarer, which falls every year on 25 June. Once again, IMO will be coordinating a social media campaign to raise awareness of seafarers and the vital work they do, and I would encourage all delegates, whether from Member States, NGOs or IGOs, to become involved in the campaign and give it their full support. There are many simple ways to do this, all of which are explained on the IMO website.
In addition, this year we have commissioned a film in support of the campaign. You will now have the opportunity to watch a preview as it is very short, literally 30 seconds.
Day of the Seafarer celebrates the vital yet often hidden work done by seafarers to transport goods and commodities all around the globe. This is a teaser for a longer film, to be released after 13 June, which will illustrate the unseen connections between those who serve at sea and the things we take for granted in our everyday lives.
I am sure that you will enjoy it and we would encourage you to share it with your friends, family, colleagues and contacts around the world. For this purpose the web link for the film will be readily available from the IMO website from next Monday.
With these words, I now conclude and look forward to you all joining me and my Secretariat colleagues for relaxed conversation and celebration of a successful meeting at the drinks reception in the Delegates’ Lounge, this time after the closure of all business of the Committee on Friday, possibly at lunchtime.
The film will now be shown on the big screens around the hall.
Thank you.