IMO Secretary, General William O'Neil spoke
of the historic global significance of the Diplomatic Conference meeting at IMO's London
Headquarters this week to adopt new measures to promote maritime and port security.
In his opening remarks to the Conference, Secretary-General O'Neil said, "The presence here today of so many distinguished Government
representatives and international organization observers from all over the world demonstrates the crucial significance and importance of the
Conference not only to the international maritime community but to the world community as a whole given the pivotal role shipping plays in the
conduct of world trade."
He went on, "This Conference was triggered by last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington resulting in the loss of thousands of
innocent lives. It represents the maritime nations' reaction to the unprovoked assaults on the very fabric of world society, a society
which, in spite of all these provocations, is determined to live in peace guaranteed by law and order."
O'Neil said he believed it would be a historic Conference, both from the point of view of the volume of work IMO has been able to accomplish
in the short time since the September 11 attacks and also, and even more importantly, from the point of view of the substance of the material
prepared to allow the Conference to make its decisions. "The expeditious response and the progress made on the review and development
of the necessary regulatory framework, as well as in the preparation and implementation of the IMO technical cooperation project to provide for
awareness and capacity-building in developing countries, has shown IMO at its very best," said O'Neil. He added, "It proves that we are
able, beyond any doubt, to focus on real needs as they emerge in today's world and, more importantly, to deliver. I am confident that this
Conference will succeed in adding the maritime community's contribution to the wish of the world to live in peace."