For more than 50 years, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has served as the maritime arm of the United Nations. Charged with developing and maintaining a regulatory framework for global shipping, the IMO has been at the center of international treaties and conventions governing every facet of shipping including safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping for its 169 member states.
The Coast Guard has been a key participant and the primary U.S. representative to the IMO since its inception. Time and again, the IMO has looked to the experience and expertise of America’s Guardians in addressing international maritime issues. In 1971, Rear Admiral R.Y. Edwards became the first American to lead the IMO’s Council – the executive branch of the IMO responsible for supervising the work and prioritizing the issues addressed by the IMO. Admiral Edwards served as Council Chairman from 1971 to 1979 and would be the only American to hold that prestigious position until now.
On December 8th, Jeffrey Lantz, USCG’s Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards was elected to serve as the Council Chairman of the IMO for the next biennium (2010-2011). The timing of Mr. Lantz’s election as head of the Council is significant. Over the next two years, the IMO will be looked to as a global leader on issues ranging from international piracy, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and how best to govern expanding Arctic waterways. Mr. Lantz’s election demonstrates his and the Coast Guard’s commitment to the IMO and the leadership the organization needs at this critical moment in time.
“As I take this position, I am mindful of its responsibilities,” Mr. Lantz told Coast Guard Compass. ” I look forward to working with the Council members as it leads IMO to address the myriad of challenges facing international shipping and IMO, not the least of which are the economic environment, climate change and the need to increase the level of competence, capacity and compliance throughout the world’s shipping.”
That significance isn’t lost on Admiral Allen. As the Department of Homeland Security’s representative on the Obama administration’s Ocean Policy Task Force, the commandant has been a leading voice calling for America to join the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and adopt a National Ocean Policy that employs a “whole government” approach to manage the use and protection of America’s marine resources and maritime waterways with an emphasis on sustainability and predictability.
“We live in an ever changing maritime environment where transnational threats exceed the grasp of individual nations to resolve,” said Admiral Allen. “With his election as the Council Chairman, Jeff will help lead the IMO’s efforts to shine the light of governance on the darkest regions of the maritime domain. From climate change to piracy, we must work in a collaborative manner to mitigate the risks that threaten all nations. I am pleased that Jeff’s leadership and expertise has been recognized with this high honor.”