The IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMO-IMLI) celebrated its 35th anniversary with testimonies from alumni and discussions about how to shape its future.  

IMO-IMLI was founded in 1988 in Malta, and began its first programme in 1989. Its aim is to strengthen the capacity and expertise of Member States in all aspects of international maritime law. This includes legislative drafting techniques aimed at incorporating international maritime instruments into national law, supporting the implementation and enforcement of the vast body of IMO rules and regulations. 

During a special anniversary event in the margins of the 111st session of the Legal Committee held this week in London, United Kingdom, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Arsenio Dominguez stated: “Over the past three decades, IMLI has played a key role in providing unparalleled legal training to more than 1,700 maritime professionals from 160 States and Territories. These people, from very diverse backgrounds, have become invaluable assets to their countries and to the global maritime community.” 

IMO-IMLI Director Prof. Norman A. Martinez Gutierrez said: “I am proud to note that many hold the highest positions in their respective countries. IMLI graduates are able to provide a unique level of legal expertise that is hard to come by elsewhere.” 

He added that IMO-IMLI alumni have gone on to become Heads of State, ministers, diplomats, chief justices, attorney generals, legal advisers and university professors in various parts of the world. While the programme originally targeted government officials from developing countries, graduates have also attained success in the private sector and international organizations, including IMO.  

Following interventions from by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta Mr. Christopher Cutajar, and Chair of the Nippon Foundation Dr. Yohei Sasakawa, a panel of international maritime professionals discussed IMLI’s legacy and future trajectory. 

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Panelists included the Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria to IMO Mr. Abdul Dirisu and Technical Adviser to the Philippines Coast Guard Cdr. Mary Leizl Barbero (both IMO-IMLI alumni), as well as Senior Lecturer, Ms. Elda Kazara-Belja. The discussion was moderated by IMO Director of Legal and External Relations Division, Ms. Dorota Lost-Sieminska, who also studied at IMO-IMLI. 

Speakers shared their experiences in applying the specialized knowledge gained at IMO-IMLI to developing and implementing key regulatory frameworks and legislation in their own countries, to benefit their communities. They highlighted the IMLI “family” feel, which allowed them to build networks and shared experiences with other future leaders, laying the groundwork for maritime diplomacy and cooperation. 

“All of us here are testimonies that IMLI has achieved its purpose,” said Cdr. Mary Leizl Barbero (Philippines). “In my own capacity, in every aspect of safety administration in my country, particularly in law enforcement as well as port state implementation, the training I had at IMLI was very important for our leaders to notice the importance not only of an IMLI graduate, but also a woman in the maritime sector.”  

The Institute's policy to reserve 50% of places for female candidates has helped to promote women’s empowerment in a male-dominated industry.  

Finally, the panel thanked the wide range of Governments, companies, foundations, and international development assistance organizations that support IMO-IMLI through voluntary contributions. 

Source: IMO 


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Issue 90 of Robban Assafina

(Mar./April 2024)


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