Madame President, Secretary General, Honorable Ministers, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, A Pleasant Good Morning!
On behalf of the State of Antigua and Barbuda, it is with great pleasure that I address the 31st session of the International Maritime Organization Assembly. Best wishes from the Honourable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne, who has responsibility for Merchant Shipping, Ship Registration and Sea Ports.
Madame President, a number of tragedies have occurred within the borders of our IMO Member States including Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Albania. Please accept the heartfelt prayers from the Government and People of Antigua and Barbuda at this very difficult time.
Madame President, Antigua and Barbuda congratulates the IMO on a successful World Maritime Day 2019 drawing global attention to ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.’ We were equally delighted to host a parallel event to sensitize women from across the local maritime industry to the objectives of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC). This day garnered positive response and commitment to establish a local chapter of WiMAC.
We recognize the pragmatic and innovative work undertaken by IMO, the guardian of our marine environment. As we approach the January 2020 implementation date for the new Sulphur cap, we encourage all stakeholders to collectively ensure minimal impact on trade and national economies, being mindful of the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDs). Antigua and Barbuda is pleased to report that whilst we are not a producer, or a significant processor, of petroleum products, the Government has ensured that there is more than adequate storage capacity for low Sulphur fuel positioning ourselves as a significant supplier of bunker services within the global network.
As a Small Island Maritime State, we are committed to facilitating maritime traffic operating on global standards and international best practices. We express great appreciation to the Government of Norway for its tremendous generosity. Norway through the IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, has provided the requisite funding and technical expertise to collaborate with Antigua and Barbuda in developing the IMO generic Maritime Single Window System. This System will facilitate trade, decrease the administrative burden on the shipmaster, and improve the information flow between all concerned stakeholders. We encourage all SIDS and Developing Countries to take advantage of this Programme. Thank you, Norway for assisting us with meeting our maritime commitments.
Madame President, as we prepare to embrace the next decade by concretizing the blue economy paradigm, we are pleased to report that by the end of this year the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) would have completed the enhancement of the 2013 Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy (ECROP) in full alignment with the 2030 Development Agenda, including the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals and recent multilateral Environmental Agreements such the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The ECROP will have a pragmatic five-year strategic action plan providing the catalyst for the development of sound National Maritime Transport Policies – including IMO obligations.
Antigua and Barbuda recognises the heightened awareness throughout the Maritime Industry regarding the threat to the integrity of information technology that modern and future shipping currently embrace for sustainability. The seminal work already being undertaken by the IMO and the Industry is encouraging, and we further urge more collaborative efforts to ensure that our actions are proactive in nature and resilient in application preventing the destabilizing and crippling effects of cyber security breaches across all sectors of the industry, including mortality risks among our dedicated and vulnerable seafarers.
Madame President, Antigua and Barbuda embraces the realization of the goals of the IMO through regional coordination and cooperation. We remain a committed member of the Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (CMOU) while playing a critical role realizing the aims and objectives of the IMO’s Caribbean Maritime Technology Cooperation Center (MTCC Caribbean).
Before closing, it is imperative that Antigua and Barbuda voice that we are encouraged by the progress being made with respect to IMO Council reform.
We believe that in order to yield significant benefits, even the most basic reform option that is rooted in the precedence of having the Council membership proportionate to the total number of IMO member States, should ensure proportional and inclusive representation of all IMO member States.
Ultimately, we hope that there aren’t prohibitive lines that divide us based on whether States meet the criteria established on either the largest or special interest groupings because we as members all have an interest.
Once more, I reiterate Antigua and Barbuda’s resolute commitment to realizing the mandates of this illustrious maritime body of the United Nations.
I thank you for your kind attention.
STATEMENT OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA BY H.E. MR. DWIGHT C.R. GARDINER OBE, GOM, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY AND PLENIPOTENTIARY & PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TO THE INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION (IMO) ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING SESSION OF THE 31ST IMO ASSEMBLY, NOVEMBER 25, 2019.