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December 1, 2003

Mitropolus to take personal charge of IMO flag state clean-up

The election of Efthimios Mitropoulos of Greece to the post of Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization was confirmed November 27 by the UN offshoot's ruling Assembly.

Mitropoulos will take up office on the retirement of William O'Neil of Canada, at the end of this year.

The Assembly also elected the following States to be members of its Council for the 2004-2005 biennium:

Category (a) 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services: China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.

Category (b) 10 other States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:
Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden.

Category (c) 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above which 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:
Algeria, Australia, Bahamas, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela.

In his acceptance speech to the Assembly, Mitropoulos emphasized the need for change within IMO and spoke of a future in which a simpler decision-making structure and a clearer focus on Members' demands, needs and wishes might be put in place.

He also stressed the importance of proper implementation of IMO conventions and pledged his personal commitment to the "Audit Scheme for Member States" that is currently under development in IMO. [This is actually polite language for finding a way to clean up the act of flag states that have shown themselves unwilling or unable to enforce the various conventions to which they have subscribed].

"I am determined," said Mitropoulos, "to make the Audit Scheme the success it deserves to be so that, through rigorous implementation of its provisions and through the provision of assistance and advice to Members which need it, we can rid the world of sub-standard ships. For the Audit Scheme to progress well in all its aspects, I will place it under my direct supervision."

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