Kenya fights to retain global maritime council seat

World's largest floating Library, Logos Hope before docking at Mombasa Port. The ship from Seychelles arrived in Mombasa with 350 tourists on board on August 22, 2023. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Kenya has intensified the bid to retain its slot in the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council it captured two decades ago.

IMO is set to conduct elections for its 40-member council on December 1 at its headquarters in London. The elections will cover categories A, B and C, comprising 40 members of the council.

Kenya intensified campaigns to retain the seat in the world maritime decision-making body last week in London during a reception, with a commitment to serve the interests of Africa, including the small islands under category C of the council.

"Our membership to the IMO council in the past has served to benefit not only Kenya but also the African continent and the other interests that we believe we should serve as ‘category C’ members, including developing states and small island developing states," said Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya.

Mvurya said Kenya has offered to host the headquarters of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA), with the view of enhancing participation in the maritime and blue economy with maritime safety and security as the "foundation on which we depend."

On the Africa Maritime Cabotagte conference, the CS noted that Kenya recently hosted a continental conference to discuss shipping and how the country can participate and benefit from the economic potential of international shipping, which forms the backbone of the world economy.

"We reaffirm our belief that international shipping is best addressed through the mechanism of the IMO for the realization of the highest practicable standards, which we all aspire for," he said.

The London reception was attended by IMO Secretary-General Kitaki Lim, Shipping and Maritime Affairs Principal Secretary Geofrey Kaituko, Manoah Esipisu, High Commissioner of Kenya to the United Kingdom and Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) acting Director General John Omingo.

"Under past and present leadership, the organization has remained relevant and adaptive, and is still the main source of guidance for maritime safety, security, marine environmental protection, the training and well-being of seafarers and facilitation of international maritime commerce among other important works," said the CS.

"It is against this background that Kenya seeks your vote and further mandate to continue serving you in the IMO council under category C, during the 2024-2025 biennium," he added.

"With Kenya at the council we assure you of the continuation of the good work that we have done at the council and to progress the organization to be adaptable to the needs of the maritime sector."

Mvurya assured that Kenya will bring the insights required to enhance the inclusivity, professionalism, transparency and effectiveness to the realization of IMO's goals and mandate.

Category ‘C’ consists of 20 states that are not elected under category A or B, who have 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.

A total of 25 countries will be competing for the 20 available slots in category C
of the IMO council.

Under category C, Kenya will compete with Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Tűrkiye and Vanuatu.

If successful, Kenya will be responsible together with other elected member countries, under the assembly, for supervising the work of the IMO.

As a member of the council, Kenya will coordinate the activities of the organs of the IMO together with other elected members of the council.

Kenya will consider the draft work programmes and budget estimates of the IMO and submit them to the assembly, receive reports and proposals of the committees and other organs and submit them to the assembly and member states, with comments and recommendations as appropriate.

In July, Kenya marked 50 years of membership to the IMO and has been a council member under category C since 2001.

Category A has ten states with the largest interest in providing international shipping services. They are China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the United States.

Category B consists of 10 states with the largest interest in international seaborne trade. They are Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Arab Emirates.

In July, Kenya sponsored former Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu for IMO secretary-general post, but she lost to Panama's candidate, Arsenio Velasco.

Karigithu lost in the second of four rounds of polls in the election held in London.

Mr Velasco will assume office at IMO on January 1, next year, replacing Mr Lim.

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