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International Maritime Law Institute celebrates 20th anniversary with commemorative seminar

A commemorative seminar to mark the 20th anniversary since the first graduation of maritime lawyers from the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) was held on 5 May 2009 at IMO Headquarters in London. IMLI, located in Malta, was founded in 1988 and the first graduates left the Institution a year later, in 1989.

IMLI was established by IMO to help ensure that sufficient maritime law experts, with appropriate knowledge and skills, would be available, especially within developing countries, to assist in the implementation and enforcement of international maritime law and, more particularly, the vast body of rules and regulations developed under the aegis of the Organization.

The seminar, on the theme "20 Years in the Service of the Rule of International Maritime Law", was opened by Professor David Attard, Director of IMLI, and addressed by Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of IMO and Chairman of the Governing Board of IMLI; Professor Francis Reynolds, Professor Emeritus, University of Oxford, United Kingdom and an IMLI visiting Professor; His Excellency Ambassador Lino Vassallo, Executive Director Merchant Shipping and Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen and Permanent Representative of Malta to IMO, representing IMLI's host State, the Republic of Malta; and Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation.

Among those attending the seminar were IMLI's 2009 graduates, 37 students from 24 States, who travelled to London after their graduation ceremony on 2 May, for their traditional post programme field trip to visit the IMO Headquarters, Lloyd's of London, Lloyd's Register, Thomas Miller (Managers of the UK P&I Club) and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds.

Over the years, IMLI has produced a superlative body of expert and qualified maritime lawyers: officials in maritime Administrations, ministers of justice, attorneys general, chief justices, ambassadors, chief executives, senior corporate managers and delegates to IMO meetings, in particular those of the Legal Committee, can all be found among their number. To date, including the 2009 graduates, a total of 518 IMLI graduates from 116 States and territories worldwide have graduated from the Institute, successfully promoting and defending the rule of international maritime law.

IMLI Award presented to Nippon foundation head Sasakawa
Also on 5 May, IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos presented the "IMLI Award for Meritorious Contribution towards the Dissemination, Harmonization and Implementation of International Maritime Law" to Mr. Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation.

As Chairman, Mr. Sasakawa has steered the Foundation through a number of maritime projects. In 2003, it established, jointly with IMLI, the "Human Resources Development Project for the Advancement of a More Effective Legal Order for the Oceans", establishing a scholarship fund to enable lawyers from all over the world to undertake studies at the Institute. To date, 56 such scholarships have been awarded to IMLI students.

Under Mr. Sasakawa's leadership, the Nippon Foundation initiated and fully supported the establishment of the International Association of Maritime Universities, a non-governmental organization comprised of 50 universities from 28 nations, which gained consultative status at IMO in 2007.

The Nippon Foundation has also, under Mr. Sasakawa's leadership, been involved in a project with IMO to develop a new framework to enhance navigational safety, security and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

IMLI was established by IMO in Malta, in 1988, and the first class of international students graduated in 1989.

IMLI today is a world-recognized centre for the training of law graduates in international maritime law. Special emphasis is given to international regulations adopted by IMO. The Institute provides suitably qualified candidates, particularly from developing countries, with high-level facilities for advanced training, study and research in international maritime law. It also focuses on legislative drafting techniques designed to assist participants in the process of incorporating international treaty rules into domestic law.

The appropriate legal infrastructure in each State should consist of an up-to-date legislative regime, with suitable machinery for the review, revision and modification of that legislation, to keep it in line with changes in international maritime law and the latest developments in marine technology and shipping practices. For this purpose, the State, as well as the shipping industry, requires the services of well-trained legal personnel with specialization in maritime and shipping law. There is also need for persons with expertise and skills in the preparation and drafting of legislative instruments, including the preparation of primary legislation (codes, statutes, etc.) as well as the necessary subsidiary legislation (regulations and rules) for implementing the principal instruments at State and industry levels. IMLI helps to train such people.

IMLI's facilities are generously provided by the host Government of Malta and through the continued support of the Malta Maritime Authority. The Institute is supported by many important donors, including: the Nippon Foundation; the ITF Seafarers' Trust; the Lloyd's Register Educational Trust; the Governments of the Republic of Korea and Switzerland; and several European Union and IMO technical co operation programmes.

Briefing 16, 6 May 2009

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 ( )
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 ( )


Please see International Maritime Organization (IMO) company electronic office

For further information please contact:
Head, Public Information Services
Lee Adamson
Tel: +44 (0)20 7587 3153

Media and Communications Officer
Natasha Brown
Tel: +44 (0)20 7587 3274

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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