South Africa thanks AU for support at IMO Council elections: Chikunga

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South Africa’s Transport Department Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga casting her vote for the country’s retention of its seat in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council during last week’s IMO Assembly elections in London. (Photo: IMO)

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

South Africa has expressed appreciation for the continued support it is receiving from the African Union, this after the southern tip of Africa’s country lobbied successfully to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council in London on Friday.

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Gifts and wraps! Some of the items shared with IMO Assembly members by South Africa in London a week ago during its lobby for reelection onto the IMO Council

Despite South Africa having served on the IMO Council and its Assembly since 1995, deriving in part from a relationship established as far as 1948, election for a seat onto the IMO Council is not a foregone conclusion and the 40 Member States that serve on it have to wage a convincing campaign among the 176 countries that make up the United Nations maritime affairs body’s Assembly.

During the IMO Assembly’s  30th Regular Session in London last week, the situation was not any different. The IMO Assembly has been meeting in London since 25 November 2017 and will wrap up business for the session on Thursday this week, (06 December).

Voting to elect new Member States to the IMO Council for the 2018-2019 period took place last Friday – the 5th day of the 30th Regular Session of the Assembly and South Africa emerged among the 40 Member States that will now serve on the council in the next two years.

The IMO Council, – the supervisory structure of the IMO Assembly over two year periods between sessions – is made up of three categories of Member States;

 

South Africa retains its seat in IMO Council

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Representatives of Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) during their biannual meeting on London this past week. The IMO Assembly meeting began on 27 November 2017 and will wrap up on 10 December 2017. On Friday, the Assembly elected 40 Members States including South Africa that will serve as its Council over the next two years. (Photo: IMO)

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.

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South Africa’s deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga casting a vote during the elections of the International Maritime  Organization (IMO) Council for the 2018/19 period in London on Friday. South Africa successfully lobbied IMO Member States to help it retain its seat in the council (PHOTO: IMO)

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.”

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(PHOTO: IMO)

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.

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South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga addressing an International Maritime Organization (IMO) gathering in London on Monday. South Africa was bidding for retention of its seat in the IMO Council.

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.”

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South Africa’s bid for retention of IMO seat underway in London

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Cape Town: 29 November 2017

South Africa’s bid to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) General Council got underway in earnest in London on Tuesday after the country’s deputy Transport Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga addressed the assembly during its final gathering of 2017 which ends in early December.

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South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga address an International Maritime Organization (IMO) gathering in London on Monday. South Africa is bidding for retention of its seat in the IMO Council.

The IMO Council whose members are drawn from 40 Member States around the world, is the executive organ of the IMO responsible for supervising the work of the international organization. The IMO Council is elected by the IMO Assembly for two-year terms.

The IMO’s General Assembly meets for its last meeting in 2017 on 7 December.

For IMO purposes, the Africa (sub-Saharan) region is composed of 48 countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and of these, 37 are IMO Member States.

According to the IMO, the Africa region has a combined total coastline of 30,725 km with South Africa, – located epicenter across three oceans, the Atlantic to the west, the Southern in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – accounting for approximately 10% or 3200 km of that coastline.

In her address of the IMO in London on Tuesday, 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.

According to Ms Chikunga, shipping  which is responsible for more than 80% of global trade, continues to play a very critical and prominent role in connecting people worldwide which phenomenon she said placed the IMO at the epicentre of ensuring that such global activities were accomplished seamlessly, without unnecessary hindrances.

She said: “International trade is very central and critical to many African countries, whether landlocked or coastal states. In that regard, the Africa Union took a conscious decision to adopt the 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) which seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African Maritime Domain for wealth creation. South Africa is actively operationalizing the provisions of that Strategy.

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File photo: Port of Ngqurha. South Africa’s only deep water port located in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

For its role in global maritime trade transport, Ms Chikunga  said South Africa has eight (8) commercial ports that handle in excess of 13 100 international ship traffic a year and approximately 300 million tonnes of cargo annually.

Geographically, along with its own infrastructure, the country was strategically located on one of the major vital shipping lanes  known as the ‘Cape Route’ that connects east and west seas thereby placing the country among critical role-players in world maritime affairs.

These factors according to Ms Chikunga were significant given that the IMO plays a crucial role towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially on climate change and gender equality,  and South Africa is well placed to continue to support the initiatives  through collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders.

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Some of the delegates to this week’s UN led conference on regional collaboration on the implementation of the ‘Large Marine Ecosystem Approach’ currently underway in Cape Town from 27 November – 01 December 2017 parallel the South Africa’s leg of the 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race hosted at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront from 24 November to 10 December 2017

This she reflected on as a United Nations led conference is underway in Cape Town this week, looking at regional collaborations on the implementation of the ‘Large Marine Ecosystem Approach’ as an instrument towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference is being held at the V&A Waterfront parallel this year’s South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

In London on Tuesday, Ms Chikunga also impressed on the IMO gathering that  alongside development, there also are  issues of safety and security that are  crucial to orderly management of the oceans.

“In support of international efforts to bring security and stability in the broader Indian Ocean under the Djibouti Code of Conduct, South Africa adopted a Strategy intending to curb acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships. In that regard, South Africa deployed her navy vessels along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrent to acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships in the southern Indian Ocean area,” said Ms Chikunga

In addition she said: “As part of our coastal State obligation, we continue to provide reliable Search and Rescue services to international shipping in our region which extends to the Antarctica.

“Furthermore, South Africa, through partnership with the IMO, has converted her highly reliable Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) to the Regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Cape Town to assist ships in distress in the Region,” she said.

The South Africa bid to retain its seat on the IMO Council occurs as the southern African country prepares to host it’s inaugural IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020.

That event, tentatively scheduled for Durban, is intended to highlight the significant role of global shipping and the role of the IMO.

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