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23rd session of the IOC General Assembly

22-06-2005 - The resolution that will validate the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS) and its Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) will be adopted during the 23rd Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) General Assembly, which began at the Organization’s Headquarters today. The Assembly, which was opened by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, will run from 21 to 30 June. Once the resolution is adopted, it is expected that it will hold its first meeting within the Indian Ocean region in early September this year, thus officially putting into operation the IOTWS.

In his opening remarks, Mr Matsuura informed the audience that following the 26 December 2004 tsunami, UNESCO and its IOC were called upon to play by the international community following the 26 December 2004 tsunami were called upon by the international community to play a leading role in efforts to establish a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean, based on their unequalled experience, gained from operating such a system in the Pacific Ocean since 1965.. He went on to inform them of the various important achievement to date, including the 19 operational national centres established in the Indian Ocean region; the 6 existing observational networks that were upgraded in order to enable them to detect tsunamis in real-time; and the needs assessments - both in respect of material and capacity-building requirements for the establishment of national centres – that have been carried out in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Oman, Myanmar and Pakistan. “We are committed to finalize a full-fledged system, including the installation of deep sea pressure sensors by July 2006” he added.

Recalling the two major functions of the IOC, namely: “to produce knowledge and to apply knowledge”, the Director-General underlined the importance of the role of government. “To fulfil its mandate, the IOC needs to increase and strengthen its intergovernmental character. We must improve our procedures to ensure that communication flows to the right levels of decision-making in governments. He nevertheless drew the attention of the audience to the great number of countries whose ocean sciences and technology are weak and whose institutions are embryonic or non-existent, applauding the new IOC strategy for capacity-building and new regional and self-directed implementation plan that will be approved during this 23rd session.

Finally, Mr Matsuura called upon the members of the Assembly to endeavour to find innovative ways of raising extrabudgetary funds for the programme. Outlining the difficult budgetary situation in which UNESCO will find itself during the 2006 – 2007 period and the concessions that he has made to the IOC given the importance of the programme, he nevertheless conveyed his confidence in the ability of the programme to attract significant flows of voluntary contributions, as clearly demonstrated in respect of the tsunami programme. “The challenges are many,” he said, “but as the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster has proven, we are well-prepared to respond. But we need to build a stronger IOC – and that possibility rests ultimately with you, the Member States active in the Commission’.

The IOC General Assembly meets every two years, comprises the 131 IOC Member States, and is the Commission’s supreme decision-making body.

Source Flash Info n°109-2005





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