IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos has welcomed Admiral
Thomas H. Collins, Commandant of United States Coast Guard, for
discussions at IMO headquarters in London.
The two covered a wide range of topics, although much of their meeting
was taken up with talks on the work the Organization has done, is doing
and will continue to do in the enhancement of maritime security.
Mr Mitropoulos took the opportunity to stress that IMO's efforts in
this regard take fully into account the need to ensure the continuation
of an efficient, uninterrupted and competitive maritime transport
infrastructure, and the need to recognize, respect and uphold the
traditional rights of seafarers and the rights and personal liberties of
the individuals. He also re-affirmed the need to ensure that the
achievements of the Organization make a meaningful contribution to the
security agenda of United Nations and to the global efforts to eliminate
The Secretary-General and Admiral Collins discussed the current
implementation status of the maritime security measures adopted
Organization in response to the increasing threat of terrorism worldwide
and in particular the 9/11 atrocities in the United States. He said that
figures for ships subject to the ISPS Code
(note 1 below) the
information available indicates a high degree of compliance and almost
no disturbance of the world trade while, for ports, information suggests
that almost 94% of the Contracting Governments to the SOLAS Convention
(note 2 below) have approved security plans
for 97% of the declared port
facilities, which in total number in excess of 9,600 worldwide.
In the context of maritime security, the two also discussed the United
States' proposals on long-range tracking of ships, the importance
access to shore leave for seafarers, and IMO's technical co-operation
activities to enhance maritime security.
Mr Mitropoulos and Admiral Collins agreed on the vital importance of
ensuring and maintaining the security of strategic sea lanes, such as
the Straits of Malacca, and the Secretary-General re-affirmed IMO's
commitment to this key objective. Last year, the IMO Council gave the
go-ahead for the Organization to convene a high-level conference to
consider ways and means of enhancing safety, security and environmental
protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The event is due to
take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, later this year. The Secretary-General
also confirmed IMO's plans to hold a similar high-level, sub-regional
seminar in Aden, Yemen, on maritime security and prevention of piracy
and armed robbery against ships.
On broader issues, Admiral Collins and Secretary-General Mitropoulos
discussed IMO's work on the voluntary Member State audit scheme,
goal-based standards for ship design and construction, passenger ship
safety and formal safety assessment.
The Secretary-General thanked Admiral Collins for the valuable
contribution that the United States continued to make to the work of the
Organization, and stressed once again the crucial importance of a
universally-accepted regulatory framework for such an international
industry as shipping. Admiral Collins expressed his appreciation to the
Secretary-General for his continued efforts to enhance safety, security
and environmental protection, and for his strategic management of the
Organization during his first year as Secretary-General.