Russia last week failed to win enough votes for re-election to the United Nation’s shipping agency’s governing council, a position it has held since 1960, in a backlash over its invasion of Ukraine.
During the election, Kenya was re-elected into the Council under Category C for the 2024-2025 biennium to represent Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region consisting of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, as well as the Horn of Africa Region and the island states of the Western Indian Ocean.
Russia lost after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged countries not to allow Moscow to be part of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) body’s executive arm.
Russia has sat in the IMO council for the past 63 years and it If came last in a secret ballot contested between 11 nations for 10 seats on offer to major shipping nations.
Russia’s role in the international arena appears to have “kept diminishing” after it failed to regain its seat at the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva in October.
Kenya has had continuous re-election to the Council since 2001 under Category C and it was extended last week where 25 countries who have special interests in maritime transport or navigation were competing for the slot during the 33nd Regular Session of the IMO General Assembly at the IMO headquarters in London.
Kenya squared it out with 24 other states including the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland and Indonesia.
But this position is critical given the number of countries expressing interest. IMO council members make decisions for the world’s maritime sector, and many countries intensely campaign for the coveted post.
Kenya’s battle for the seat comes barely a month after it lost the IMO secretary-general post to Arsenio Velasco of the Republic of Panama who takes over on January 1 next year.
Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs CS Salim Mvurya while accepting Kenya to be the member said Kenya’s re-election is paramount as it ensures its representatives sits at the IMOgoverning board, which decides on the IMO strategy and budget, among other things.
“Kenya reaffirms its commitment to support the IMO regional presence office in Nairobi, for the technical cooperation activities in the East and Southern Africa region, for the benefit of the member States. We remain committed to partner with IMO in solving local challenges as well as administrative needs in which it can be further strengthened to meet the ever-increasing technical cooperation needs of member states in the region.
He added, “We further welcome the establishment of a regional presence office in Egypt and look forward to the office fulfilling its mandate in reaching out to the target Member States in that region.”
CS Mvurya said there is much need to be done as the world continue to face known and emerging challenges including digitalisation, decarbonisation, gender equality, automation, emerging threats on shipping along global shipping lanes and the evolving role of the human element on safety of life at sea.
“Kenya remains committed to objectives of the Djibouti Code of Conduct – Jeddah Amendment, and the support of its member states in the development of national maritime security strategies,” said Mr Mvurya.