Kenya lands top global maritime council seat

Principal Secretary for Shipping and Maritime Nancy Karigithu during a two-day hybrid forum organised by Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS). [James Wanzala,Standard]

Kenya will continue to sit on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) governing board, representing peers in the Western Indian Ocean, East Africa and the African Great Lakes.

The country was re-elected to the IMO Council under category C for the 2022-23 biennium at the 32nd Assembly last week in London. Kenya was first elected to category C in 2001.

Kenya first joined IMO in 1973 and has remained an active participant at the UN body.

Kenya’s High Commissioner in London, Manoah Esipisu, and Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu led a Kenyan delegation in wooing other IMO members to support the country’s re-election bid.

According to Ms Karigithu, the country will have a major say in global maritime policy.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work in ensuring the safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution," she said.

"Our continuous re-election has provided a solid voice at the IMO for East Africa, the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and the island states of the Western Indian Ocean."

The country has to date ratified 32 conventions mooted by the organisation.

The council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the assembly, for supervising global maritime policy.

Category C states have special interests in global maritime transport and navigation.

Joining Kenya in that category are Egypt, Morocco, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Vanuatu.

Category A has 10 states which have the largest interest in international shipping services. They include China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Category B has another 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade. They include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates

The newly elected council was expected to meet to elect its chair and vice-chair for the next biennium.

All 175 member states and three associate members are entitled to attend the Assembly, which is the IMO’s highest governing body.

The Assembly normally meets once every two years. It is responsible for approving the work programme, voting for the budget and determining the financial arrangements of IMO. It also elects the organisation’s 40-member council.

While the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged global economies, IMO was at the centre of raising concerns on the safety of seafarers at sea as countries continued to deny ships entry to ports.

The organisation argued that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted due to the global pandemic.

Due to the global restrictive measures, several cruise ships were stranded at sea after they were denied entry to ports due to confirmed coronavirus cases in the vessels.

Thousands of cruise ship passengers were also left stranded on the high seas when their vessels sought to dock at foreign ports.

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