What do we know about the IMO?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

Even though we’ve been told he never at­tended a sin­gle meet­ing since be­ing ap­pointed Saint Lucia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2014, thanks to Walid Juf­fali the IMO is now a fa­mil­iar acro­nym and is making lo­cal news. Like the Juf­fali af­fair, Saint Lucia’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­mains shrouded. My own re­search has shown that the only doc­u­mented men­tion of the IMO in con­nec­tion with Saint Lucia was in a piece on the then newly ap­pointed High Com­mis­sioner to Lon­don, Ernest Hi­laire, fea­tured in a 2012 is­sue of Em­bassy Mag­a­zine.

Af­ter ex­plain­ing in some de­tail to the mag­a­zine the is­sues con­fronting Saint Lucia - the with­drawal of pref­er­en­tial treat­ment once af­forded ba­nanas, “de­mands for greater tax trans­parency from com­pa­nies with off­shore sub­sidiaries” and “cli­mate change”, the High Com­mis­sioner had cited ties to var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Hi­laire, “Mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions like the Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tariat of­fer an ideal fo­rum to give voice to such is­sues.” The Em­bassy Mag­a­zine story pointed out that the High Com­mis­sioner would also be de­vot­ing time to the IMO, given the im­por­tance of mar­itime is­sues to Saint Lucia.

So what ex­actly is the IMO? For starters the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion is the United Na­tions spe­cial­ized agency with re­spon­si­bil­ity for the safety and se­cu­rity of ship­ping and the preven­tion of marine pol­lu­tion by ships. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site IMO is the global stan­dard-set­ting author­ity for the safety, se­cu­rity and en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance of in­ter­na­tional ship­ping. Its main role is to cre­ate a reg­u­la­tory frame­work for the ship­ping in­dus­try that is fair and ef­fec­tive, uni­ver­sally adopted and uni­ver­sally im­ple­mented.

In other words, its role is to cre­ate a level play­ing field so that ship op­er­a­tors can­not ad­dress their fi­nan­cial is­sues by sim­ply cut­ting cor­ners and com­pro­mis­ing on safety, se­cu­rity and en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance. This ap­proach also en­cour­ages in­no­va­tion and ef­fi­ciency.

Fur­ther, in­ter­na­tional ship­ping trans­ports about 90 per cent of global trade to peo­ples and com­mu­ni­ties all over the world. Ship­ping is the most ef­fi­cient and cost­ef­fec­tive method of in­ter­na­tional trans­porta­tion for most goods; it pro­vides a de­pend­able, low-cost means of trans­port­ing goods glob­ally, fa­cil­i­tat­ing commerce and help­ing to cre­ate pros­per­ity among na­tions and peo­ples. The world re­lies on a safe, se­cure and ef­fi­cient in­ter­na­tional ship­ping in­dus­try – and this is pro­vided by the reg­u­la­tory frame­work de­vel­oped and main­tained by IMO.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is clearly very im­por­tant. One would imag­ine that any lo­cal ties to an or­ga­ni­za­tion such as the IMO should in­clude the in­volve­ment of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Author­ity; to the best of our knowl­edge this ap­pears not to be the case—even though SLASPA has its own mar­itime con­sul­tant who re­cently ad­mit­ted he knew next to noth­ing about the IMO and just as lit­tle about Saint Lucia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board.

Sev­eral meet­ings of the IMO are slated for early 2016, in­clud­ing one on pol­lu­tion preven­tion and re­sponse, and an­other on safety of nav­i­ga­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and search and res­cue. Se­ri­ous is­sues. So, will Walid Juf­fali deign to at­tend on Saint Lucia’s be­half? The record shows he has failed to at­tend even one of the 27 IMO meet­ings since his ap­point­ment.

Saudi ty­coon Sheik Walid Juf­fali owns this £15mil­lion coun­try es­tate in Egham, Sur­rey, which boasts its own maze and ten­nis courts. The es­tate is next to

Wind­sor Great Park and is just four miles from Wind­sor Cas­tle.

Soon af­ter Christina Estrada (right) de­manded a share of her ex-hus­band’s £4bil­lion for­tune, Saudi ty­coon Sheik Walid Juf­fali (left) joined the ob­scure In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IMO), which gave him diplo­matic im­mu­nity

from any le­gal ac­tion in Bri­tain.

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