Symposium on port security operations

Symposium on port security operations

IMO Headquarters, 12 and 13 June 2018

Opening address by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to IMO Headquarters and this Symposium on port security operations. This event is held in conjunction with the International Organization of Airport and Seaport Police’s “4th World Port Security Summit”. 

The IMO World Maritime Day theme for this year, our 70th anniversary, “Better shipping for a better future” focuses on supporting Member States to develop and implement maritime strategies to invest in an interagency approach that addresses a wide range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, and increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security.

It encourages Member States, United Nations agencies, other organizations, and industry to work with developed and developing countries, shipping and public - and private - sector ports to identify and promote best practices, and to build bridges between the many diverse actors involved in these areas. 

Our key objectives include improving cooperation between ports and ships and developing a closer partnership between the two sectors. And with that, raising global standards and setting norms for the safety, security and efficiency of ports and for port and coastal State authorities; and standardizing port procedures through identifying and developing best practice guidance and training materials.

The challenge is global. We live in challenging times. The population of the world exceeds 7 billion and is growing. The populations of many developing States are set to double by 2050.

In addition, the world today faces many, often connected challenges: climate change; threats to the environment; unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; threats to food security; societal threats posed by organized criminals and violent extremists; and instability leading to mixed migration. All of these threaten the unity of societies and impact on the ability of developing countries to trade and grow. 

To address these and other challenges, the Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They emphasize the need to consider the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development.

Although some may feel that the maritime contribution to the SDGs is marginal, the truth is that the world relies on international shipping.

The world benefits from shipping's smooth operation, by which food, raw materials, energy and consumer goods are moved reliably and effectively around the globe at low cost. International shipping is central to the functioning of global trade.

The Sustainable Development Goals will be implemented mainly at the State level. However, IMO will act to support Member States to develop and formulate innovative policies and strategies to respond to the needs of countries at the national, regional and global levels. Ultimately, more efficient shipping, working in partnership with a port sector that is supported by governments, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all people.

For the connections between ships, ports and people to be efficient and sustainable, they must also be secure. IMO helps Member States to enhance maritime security, focusing on what the civil maritime industry, both the shipping and port sectors, can do to protect itself and to assist Governments to protect global maritime trade.

The emphasis is on preventive security through risk management, deterrence and threat transfer, rather than countering terrorism per se. IMO also works in the prevention of mixed migration by sea, drug smuggling, stowaways and ensuring cybersecurity. If we can benefit from your experience, and communicate it effectively to Member States, the next two days will be most productive!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is constantly changing. Ongoing threats to the port and shipping sectors continue to evolve and so does IMO’s response. Emerging issues include the fallout from piracy and armed robbery, including challenges posed by the presence of armed guards on-board, their weapons and equipment; cyber threats; more widespread terrorism and violent extremism; the increasingly urgent need to address destructive and unsustainable levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; trafficking in weapons, drugs, people and illegal wildlife products; and the need to alert ports, develop tools and implement programmes for climate change mitigation.  Your experience in this regard will be invaluable.

As with facilitation, the theme for yesterday’s event, port security needs a multi-agency response. However, it also needs an approach to encourage Governments of land-focused countries to engage.  We are therefore focused on working with other United Nations agencies and international organizations to encourage and help Governments to meet all their responsibilities at sea, as mandated in IMO conventions and other international instruments. 

Our focus is to help Governments develop their national oversight capability for safety and security and promote the application of the ISPS Code and ILO/IMO Code of practice on security in ports. Key to this is promoting the establishment of port security and facilitation advisory committees as vehicles for inter-agency cooperation – addressing all security-related threats.

This also supports IMO’s role within the wider UN family’s efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and to prevent violent extremism and mixed migration by tackling their root causes.

By promoting trade by sea and improving port infrastructure and efficiency; by developing and strengthening inter-modal links and hinterland connections; by managing and protecting fisheries; by exploring offshore energy production and even by fostering tourism – maritime activity can both drive and support a growing national economy.

I wish you every success with your deliberations.