In search for a new IMO Secretary-General - assessing Indonesia's strength at the Global Maritime Forum

The International Maritime Or ganization (IMO) will soon elect a new Secretary-General. The in- cumbent Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, is to end his term in December 2023.

In search for a new IMO Secretary-General - assessing Indonesia's strength at the Global Maritime Forum

Siswanto Rusdi

Dewan Pakar : Pramarin

Founder and Director of The National Maritime Institute ( Namarin )

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will soon elect a new Secretary-General. The incumbent Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, is to end his term in December 2023. The selection process to find a successor for the leader of the orga nization, which is under the United Nations, started in December 2022.

March 31 was the deadline for nominating candidates. Seven have been proposed by seven member countries of the organization, whose Headquarters are based in the city of London. Media reported that the seven candidates include Moin Uddin Ahmed (Bangladesh), Suat Hay- ri Aka (Turkiye), Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco (Panama), Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Domini- ca), Nancy Karigithu (Kenya), Min- na Kivimäki (Finland) and Zhang Xiaojie (China).

Their fate will be determined. in elections by the IMO Council, which will hold its 129th meeting in July 2023. As a member country, Indonesia. did not nominate any of its compa- triots, despite the lack of any impediment. What a pity.

Why is it important to pay atten tion to the IMO Secretary-General election? This year's IMO Secretary-General selection deserves attention because issues such as decarbon- ization in the shipping industry, supply chain security, trade route freedom and others have surfaced in recent years. These issues will intensify in the subsequent tenure, whoever the IMO Secretary-General will be. In the IMO system, the Secre tary-General holds limited power. Policies are discussed, and decisions are made in Committees, where the most "powerful" among them is the Maritime Safety Committee or MSC.Nevertheless, the Secretary-Gen- eral can shape and direct developing

This is why IMO member coun- tries, at least those with nominated candidates, hope the Secretary-General will be one from their own coun- try. Therefore, they can benefit as much as possible from every policy and regulation produced by existing Committees. Since the United Nations Frame- work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was first launched in 1992, the shipping sector has been active- ly involved in climate change issues.

IMO then amended the MARPOL Convention and issued Resolution 8 regarding CO2 emissions from ships, in 1997. According to expert estimates, emissions from the shipping sector are around 2 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas (GHG) and are expected to increase in the coming years.In response to this condition, in April 2018, IMO issued the "Initial Strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships", aiming to reduce GHG in the international shipping sector by at least 50 per cent by 2050.

The target is to solve the problem within this century. One of the de- carbonization attempts is by using alternative fuels for ships. Several fuel options have emerged, and various gases (LNG, Ammonia and others) are consid- ered to be used as fuels. Some of the vessels using these specific fuels have already crossed the oceans. The shipping sector notes that ten ships currently use LNG, in- cluding Creale Spirit, Isla Bella and Rem Eir.

Wind energy is also used in wind propulsion technology, Nuclear power has joined the list, although this alternative fuel is not entirely new to the shipping business. The readers might still remem-ber Savannah MV-the first nucle- ar-powered merchant ship. This ship was built in 1950 for USD 46.9 million and launched in 1959. It operated until 1972.

Then, there was the Lenin, at nuclear-powered icebreaker vessel made by the Soviet Union, constructed in 1957.

As mentioned above, Indonesia has not nominated any of its country-men as candidates for the IMO Secretary-General position, despite any reason not to do so. Our country indeed has relative- ly strong assets when compared to other countries. For instance, we are the largest archipelagic state. We also claim to be a world mar itime axis. This means that Indo- nesia is the epicenter of the global maritime world.

Indonesia's non-participation in the nomination of the IMO Secre tary-General seemed to stem from the Government's lack of confidence regarding whom to nominate. Many Indonesian figures are ac tive in the maritime area, dealing in areas such as shipping, ports and so on, and are widely known na- tionally.

Unfortunately, they are not recognized in the international maritime world. If Indonesia were to nominate one of these figures to join the selection of a new IMO Secretary-General, it would be difficult to "sell" them in the election compared to, for example, Cleopatra Doum- bia-Henry, the candidate nominated by Dominica She is widely known by the mari time community through her former position as chancellor of the World Maritime University (WMU) in Mal- mo, Sweden. She was succeeded by Max Mejia from the Philippines.

If the Indonesian Government seemed unconfident in nominating a national maritime figure as a can- didate for IMO Secretary-General, it should have used help from a third party to endorse its candidate, like the candidate from Kenya, Nancy Karigithu Nancy was endorsed by the Cen- ter for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE), a US-based maritime NGO But then again, the ones nomi- nated are those who have unrivaled experience in the maritime world. Nancy, for example, served as chair of the IMO's Technical Cooperation Commission for two terms.It is no use crying over spilt milk Hopefully, in the next IMO Secre tary-General election, Indonesia can nominate a candidate.

Until then, we should increase our leverage at IMO to be better known by the global maritime com- munity. This can be done by instat- ing a special maritime ambassador at the organization. Currently, the Indonesian am- bassador in London is the per- manent representative at IMO. In practice, the one attending most of the IMO meetings is the communi cations attaché with the position of alternate representative.

Indonesia's maritime diplomacy position, represented by an attaché, was aggravated by the appointment of an employee of the Transporta- tion Ministry as the communication attaché. This position is often designated a "gift" for officials unable to obtain Echelon II positions at the Head Office. They do not receive a proper foundation, which can be seen from their relatively low level of English. Beats me.

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