CAPE TOWN: 02 December 2017
South Africa has managed to hold onto its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council, the organization confirmed in a statement from London on Friday.
This, according to South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; means that the country will continue to serve on the body, representative of not only her own interests, but also those of the Southern African Development Community.
The IMO, made up of about 180 Member States (or countries) is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships globally.
The IMO Council in turn, is the executive organ of the IMO responsible under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the organization. According to the IMO, between sessions of the Assembly that take place every two years, the IMO Council “performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.”
South Africa has served in the IMO Council for a number of years in the Category C slot of Members States.
Designated as Category C Member States are countries denoted as having “special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”
The IMO Category C Member States slot constitutes the highest number of countries – a total of 20 – making up the IMO Council’s 40 members, and each of the countries in the category has to be voted in by other Member States in order to obtain and or retain its seat in the council.
The rest of the IMO Council members is made of up 10 Category A Member States denoted as being those with “the largest interest in providing international shipping services.” The final group of 10 is made up of Category B Member States that are classified as those countries with “the largest interest in international seaborne trade.”
At this week’s IMO Assembly gathering in London, IMO Member States voted into Category A were China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.
Voted into Category B of Member States were Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates.
In Category C, for which South Africa bid successfully for retention of its seat, the country was joined by the Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.
In her address of the IMO Assembly earlier in the week, Ms Chikunga whose South Africa delegation at the gathering included senior South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) senior managers, among them; chief operations officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; urged IMO Member States to vote South Africa back into the IMO Council in order to ensure that the country continued with its contribution to work of the organization.
Ms Chikunga noted that South Africa was the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region of Africa standing for re-election in the IMO Council and in South Africa’s viewpoint, it was only correct that IMO Member States in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceanic states should support the country’s retention as a member of the IMO Council.
“The re-election of South Africa to the Council will ensure that the developing countries in general and the African continent in particular gets a fair voice in the international maritime affairs,” said Ms Chikunga.
Ms Chikunga further highlighted several other factors in which South Africa remains a central player towards the IMO and the world’s pursuit of particularly sustainable development of oceans economies.
In London on Friday, the IMO said elected Member States including South Africa will constitute the IMO Council for the 2018-2019 biennium.
“The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 30th Assembly, for its 119th session (on 7 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium,” said the IMO.
Meanwhile, the organization confirmed that its 30th Assembly meeting in London which began from 27 November will continue through to to 6 December 2017 with all members entitled to attend.
According to the IMO, “the Assembly normally meets once every two years in regular session. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. It also elects the Organization’s 40-Member Council.”