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The task facing Lim Ki-tack's vision of 'A voyage together' at IMO

The task facing Lim Ki-tack's vision of 'A voyage together' at IMO
The news that Lim Ki-tack had been elected by the IMO Council to be the UN body’s new secretary-general will have come as a surprise to many.

It was not that the Korean candidate was not highly qualified and capable for the job, but he had been somewhat the dark horse of the campaign, with the Danish candidate Andreas Nordseth tipped by many to win the election for the top post.

Indeed in the five rounds of voting for the post it was to come down to a final choice between Lim and Nordseth.

Lim is understood to have campaigned hard to win the election, and clearly persuaded people of his vision for the IMO and last week Panama was the first country to publicly declare its support for his candidacy.

So what will lie ahead when he takes over the role at the start of 2016, after the current secretary-general Koji Sekimizu stands down?

Currently the president of Busan Port Authority (BPA) Lim will bring with him a wealth of experience combining the experience of a Master Mariner, with expertise in administration and a long practical knowledge of working at the IMO. These attributes combine with an engaging personality something this writer has had the pleasure of witnessing first hand interviewing him in his BPA role..

Lim campaigned on the basis of “A voyage together” concept with an aim to bridge the gap between developed and developing nations.

In his statement on his philosophy Lim said: “All the world’s oceans are connected and ships sail freely between all nations. No region or nation is exceptional. Every Member State must join this common voyage.”

He also added that one of the objectives of “a voyage together” was to” To reinforce the importance of a global approach, not a regional approach, using IMO as a focal point.”

This will not be easy to achieve with regionalism in maritime regulation having become increasingly strong in recent years with the IMO struggling to gain consensus to allow it to produce, workable global regulations.

A key issue for the current secretary-general Sekimizu has been that even when new international conventions drafted and agreed they can take many years to receive the required level of ratification and come into force. In the meantime the likes of the EU and US come out with their own regulations frustrated over the lack of movement at the IMO.

Much of this relates to issues on the environment, and the pressure in this area is only set to grow.

Having persuaded the IMO council members of his vision the even bigger challenge of turning this into a reality will face Lim come the start of 2016.