Bahamas Launches Official Campaign for Re-Election to IMO Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to welcome you today at this event to launch the campaign of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organization, Category “C”.
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas has served on the IMO Council from 1991 to 1995 and from 1999 to the present, and has decided to seek re-election to the Council under Category “C”, at the forthcoming Assembly in November 2015. It should be recalled that the Council membership is made up of three groups of States, designated A, B and C. Category C is open to those twenty (20) States that 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. The Bahamas exemplifies the highest credentials in each of these areas.
The Bahamas has over fifteen hundred ships, consisting of some fifty-eight (58) million gross tons on our shipping Register and is the fifth highest contributor to the IMO budget, representing 4.39% (£1.3m in 2014). The Bahamas remains the flag of choice for 140 passenger ships, with the world’s largest cruise ships, the “Quantum of the Seas” (GT 168,666), the Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis” and “Allure of the Seas”, flying its Flag.
The synergy created by such a dynamic fleet portfolio has led to an enhanced knowledge and understanding of the maritime industries and the associate challenges faced and in particular challenges experienced in difficult economic times.
It is this critical knowledge base and tested experience, combined with our commitment to advocacy for regulation that is timely, proportionate, clear and practical which informs our active membership in the International Maritime Organization.
Why does The Bahamas place such importance on Council membership? To understand this you need to understand the reasons for our significant interest in the dealings of the International Maritime Organization. You may be aware of our responsibilities as a regulator of one of the larger flag State fleets: but we enjoy an important strategic location - bounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. We have a maritime geography which is unique in the world and we champion the stewardship of our beautiful Bahamian waters, reefs and cays for the benefit of the world.
This is why we hold the work done by the IMO in extremely high regard and why we consider it an unavoidable obligation to be actively involved in its work. We aim to facilitate sustainable, safe and secure shipping on clean seas through active cooperation with the IMO and other States and organizations which share our philosophy and views.
But how does this translate into fitness and a desire to serve on Council? It is a matter of our core beliefs:
We believe that Council membership obliges a higher responsibility to observe the discipline associated with participation in the Organization. We do so without complaint: we expect and exhort everyone to follow suit.
We believe that the Council should provide Committees with the leadership necessary to produce Regulations that are clear, implementable and proportionate – Regulations that deal properly with the risks and hazards without jeopardizing trade or the equitable development of nations. Our keen interest in the implementation of the Guidelines on the Organization and Methods of Work is evidence of our drive to ensure the avoidance of regulatory overload for seafarers and ship-owners.
The Bahamas was honoured to have been one of the small group of Member States selected for the Secretary-General’s Steering Group on the Reduction of Administrative Burdens and our delegation has worked assiduously to assist the Group in meeting its objectives. Our delegation is currently engaging with other Council members in the Correspondence Group on revision of the Guidelines on the Application of the Strategic Plan with the objective of ensuring that the revised guidelines are simple, rational and efficient.
If we are successful with our bid for re-election I can assure you that we will continue to participate actively with goodwill and openness. We will continue to support efforts to improve working methods to facilitate efficient delivery of modern regulations. We will continue to adhere to the discipline required of Member states and to encourage others to do likewise. We will continue to be proactive, imaginative and responsive, and to work for simplification and rationalization of Regulations and Guidelines.
Council membership is not a right – it is a privilege. We are keenly aware of that fact and The Bahamas is sincerely honoured to have received your support in recent times. We hope that we have met your expectations in our service but we believe that there is still more to do. We retain our desire to serve and to continue to contribute, and we humbly ask for your continued trust and support at the election of Council members when Assembly 29 meets in November 2015.