The International Maritime Organization (IMO) concluded its 33rd session on 6 December 2023. A total of 175 IMO Member States and three Associate Members deliberated on crucial matters, adopting a strategic plan, budget, and a series of resolutions to shape the maritime industry’s future.
As per tradition, the Assembly commenced with the annual IMO Awards Ceremony on 27 November, where outstanding contributions to the maritime sector were recognised. This set the stage for a comprehensive agenda during the subsequent days.
One of the pivotal achievements of the Assembly was the adoption of the Strategic Plan for the six-year period from 2024 to 2029. This plan outlines eight strategic directions aimed at addressing contemporary challenges and fostering sustainable growth in the maritime sector. Notable directions include ensuring the implementation of IMO instruments with a focus on capacity development, integrating emerging technologies into the regulatory framework, and responding decisively to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
In addition to the strategic plan, the Assembly approved the Organization’s budget and work program for 2024 and 2025. The budget for the 2024-2025 biennium amounts to £83,653,000, with contributions from Member States playing a significant role in financing the Organization’s activities.
The newly elected 40-Member IMO Council for the 2024-2025 biennium convened on 7 December, re-electing Mr. Victor Jiménez from Spain as Chair and Mrs. Amane Fethallah from Morocco as Vice-Chair. A crucial appointment was that of Mr. Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco from the Republic of Panama as IMO Secretary-General, with his term commencing on 1 January, 2024.
The Assembly expressed its gratitude to the outgoing Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim, through an adopted resolution appreciating his services to the Organization. Several resolutions were also passed on various aspects of the maritime industry, ranging from guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance, to recommendations addressing the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on global transport workers and the supply chain.
A notable resolution focused on the enhancement of multilingualism within the IMO, underlining the Organization’s commitment to inclusivity and effective communication.
During the sessions, the Assembly discussed the Russian armed invasion of Ukraine’s impact on international shipping and urged Member States to prevent illegal operations in the maritime sector by the ‘dark fleet’ or ‘shadow fleet.’ The fight against organized crime in the maritime sector was also a focal point, with the Assembly adopting measures to strengthen the framework for combating such activities.
The meeting concluded with the election of H.R.H. Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud from Saudi Arabia as the President of the Assembly, along with Vice-Presidents from Bangladesh and Peru, and Chairs and Vice-Chairs for various committees.
In his opening address, the incoming President emphasised the need for collaborative efforts to address challenges facing the maritime industry with the aim of setting a robust course for the IMO’s work in the coming years.