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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General meets with Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization

On 16 October 2006, Mr Efthimmios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) paid a courtesy call on the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura.

Mr Mitropoulos is in Paris to attend the 92nd session of the IMO’s ad hoc Legal Committee (permanent subsidiary organ of the IMO), one of the main topics of which will be the draft convention for the removal of shipwrecks, currently being developed by the IMO. The so-called Wreck Removal Convention is intended to provide international rules on the rights and obligations of States and shipowners in dealing with wrecks and drifting or sunken cargo which may pose a hazard to navigation or pose a threat to the marine environment of coastal states. In this context, the Director-General informed Mr Mitropoulos about UNESCO’s Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001), including of the difficulties faced, during the negotiation of this Convention, in respect of sunken military ships. Mr Mitropoulos confirmed that this was indeed a sensitive issue given the sentiment attached to sunken military ships since they generally considered to be the final resting place of the crew who go down with the ship. He explained that the IMO’s draft convention will only relate to sunken ships that pose a danger in navigational paths, and that the excavation of such wrecks will only be carried out once the accord of all interested parties is obtained.

The Director-General expressed satisfaction in respect of the cooperation between UNESCO and the IMO. In particular, he and Mr Mitropoulos discussed the cooperation within the context of tsunami early warning systems, and of the global ocean-related hazards warning and mitigation system where IMO participates in the ad hoc working group established by the UNESCO/IOC Council to prepare the necessary framework. The two heads of agency also discussed on-going collaboration in the area of marine environmental protection, most especially within the interagency Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. UNESCO and the IMO have been in active collaboration since the establishment of the IOC in 1960. Other areas of collaboration include the development of studies on marine pollution and the prevention of invasion of harmful aquatic organisms via ballast waters.

Other topics of discussion between Mr Matsuura and Mr Mitropoulos were the question of illegal immigration. Mr Matsuura informed Mr Mitropoulos of the call by UNESCO’s Member States during the 175th session of the Executive Board for UNESCO to identify the role it can play by virtue of its mandate in respect of the challenge of African migration, and the request to establish an intersectoral working group to this end. The two heads of agencies also discussed the modalities of the ongoing renovations of the IMO Headquarters building in London and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, as well as the upcoming meeting of the United Nations Chief Executive Board (CEB), which will take place in New York towards the end of this month.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info n°160-2006
  • 19-10-2006
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