Commemorative Seminar to Celebrate the 20th Annivesary of International Maritime Law Institute

London, United Kingdom

It is a great honor to have this opportunity to address you here today. I especially wish to thank Secretary-General Mitropoulos and Professor Attard, for their strong support.

Six years ago, The Nippon Foundation launched a scholarship program to develop the human resources needed to promote a maritime legal order around the world. In these six years, we have provided scholarships to 56 recipients in 32 countries. I am very proud that our program has contributed, even in a modest way, to the development of IMLI and the international maritime community. I am equally proud that our efforts in support of IMO and the Institute’s development are being recognized in this way.

I am well aware, however, that in receiving this award, we are also being encouraged to make even greater contributions to the Institute’s development in the years ahead.

I am very pleased, naturally, to accept this award along with the commitment that it implies.

I would like to express my highest praise and deepest appreciation for the contributions made to the maritime community by the Institute’s XXX graduates. Praise also goes to the IMO and IMLI for the research that they have undertaken during the past 20 years.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that the seabed and its resources are a “common heritage of humankind.” As such, everyone alive today has a responsibility to pass on the oceans, in good order and in sustainable condition, to the next generation.

This was the position advocated by Malta’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Arvid Pardo, in 1967. Roughly 20 years later, IMLI was established, in 1988. Today, yet another 20 years on, the Institute has reached a new milestone in its history. In the interim, the human race has made increasingly active use of the seas in order to secure its survival and prosperity. The scope of our activities has now reached tremendous proportions, and our impact on the oceans has been significant.

Looking ahead 20 years to 2030, the Earth’s population is projected to reach 8 billion people. Twenty years beyond that, in 2050, it will top 10 billion. Today, the relationship between humankind and the oceans is entering a new phase. In the near future, humanity will have to depend more and more on the oceans for the resources indispensable to survival ~ including food and energy.

Life originated in the oceans, and today our lives continue to be supported by the oceans. Our human habitats, however, have now expanded to the point that they are destroying Nature’s ecological systems. Today, order is being lost, the oceans are being ravaged, and the seas are slowly becoming a garbage dump for the products of human greed. If we continue to use the oceans ~ oceans which are finite ~ in ways that ignore international order, our “common heritage of humankind” could be totally depleted within our lifetime.

To avoid that fate, we must carry out our responsibilities as users and beneficiaries of the oceans. We must change our notion that the oceans are “infinite.” We must protect the oceans, and take proper action against the undesirable changes they are undergoing. And to show us how, we need outstanding human resources that can tackle the many problems affecting them, flexibly and with foresight. We need people who can make the international law of the sea firm and secure.

Contamination of the marine environment is a problem that goes beyond national borders. Marine pollution has the potential to cause serious damage to all populations living along ocean shores. We therefore must join hands across borders to take action against contamination of our oceans.

Today, the development and use of newly discovered deep-seabed resources is raising legal and policy issues of a kind man never before envisioned. We must address them using our collective wisdom, by adopting new and flexible approaches.

Today, we also see a rash of hostage-taking and the plunder of property at sea. This is a situation that cannot be stopped by a single country acting alone.
To confront these evils we face in common, we must all join forces and cooperate to restore order to our oceans.

Before the oceans are completely used up, those of us alive today must cultivate farsighted human resources with the capacity to pass safe, secure oceans to the generations of tomorrow. We must also work together to confront the problems affecting our oceans today, as well as the problems likely to arise tomorrow. I strongly believe that these tasks and ideals will be embraced by the XXX talented individuals who have already graduated from IMLI, and by those who will follow in their footsteps in the future.

Today, human greed is slowly changing our peaceful oceans into places of anarchy and plunder. I am referring of course to the problem of piracy in the waters off Somalia.

I have long been involved in securing the safe passage of ships in the Malacca and Singapore Straits. This is an area once known as a pirates’ nest. In recent years, however, incidents of piracy here have declined significantly. This success owes to international cooperation – cooperation centering on Japan – in actively supporting the framework of countries that border the straits and the countries and companies that use them. Through the years, The Nippon Foundation has participated in many discussions and projects relating to piracy in this region. If I may, I would like to briefly offer you my views, based on our experience in the Malacca and Singapore Straits, in the hope of restoring order to the waters off Somalia.

Currently, naval vessels from some 20 countries are patrolling the waters in that area. In spite of this, there have already been more than 60 pirate attacks there this year. This is more than half of last year. And there are no signs that this alarming trend might end. The responses to this crisis have been varied and makeshift. If the situation continues, the cost burden will likely bring today’s patrol activities to an end. Clearly, a very long time will be required before order is restored.

To effectively combat piracy in this broad area, unity is required. In this respect, doubts persist as to whether the activities of the countries involved are being carried out in an organized and efficient manner. Inevitably, a new framework must be established.

Ladies and gentlemen, piracy is a scourge that affects the entire world, and combating it is in the interests of the entire international community. It is projected that ultimately about 40 countries will participate in fighting piracy off Somalia. I believe that never in history have so many nations coordinated together like this for a common purpose. On this occasion, it is vital for the international community to seek out a new framework, based on a new way of thinking, to combat this new enemy.

Ladies and gentlemen, earlier, the international community created a system to prevent the recurrence of conflict and maintain peace. I refer to the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations, or PKO. Since their inception, PKO initiatives have produced many positive results. I suggest that activities by the UN, based on a new way of thinking, are needed for fighting piracy. In the same way that the PKO initiative was jointly devised, I think the time has come for humankind to pool its collective wisdom and implement new activities. We must work under UN leadership to restore peace to the world’s oceans. We might call such activities an “OPK,” or Ocean Peace Keeping, initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hear that the IMO is now coordinating internationally to strengthen and develop coast guard forces in the coastal nations affected by the recent spate of piracy. I understand that the final goal is for those nations to take charge of counter-piracy duties themselves. My OPK agenda would be an efficient response to the needs of the international community until the new coast guard systems are fully prepared. The nations of the world would join forces and act in unison.

It may sound like I am proposing a dispatch of warships on a grand scale. The activities I envision, however, would include, for example, monitoring, from air, land and sea, the coastal areas near pirate strongholds. The information gathered this way would then be used by naval vessels to crack down on and prevent piracy, including blocking the transport by sea of weapons to the pirates. Through the sharing of command and communication systems, as well as a common code of conduct, we should be able to look forward to well-controlled and effective activities.

In tandem with these activities, of course, it will also be necessary to take steps to strengthen the patrol capacities of the coastal countries, and to both restore security and combat poverty in the areas where the pirates have been based. In addition, while it is critical for the international community to cooperate in dealing with piracy, I think the time has come to expect the private sector to also make various contributions.

The breakdown of order, resulting from piracy and terrorism, is not only a topic of discussion at IMO; it is also frequently debated by the international community. And as one would expect, it is also a hot topic at IMLI.

We all share the world’s oceans. Environmental destruction in any single country can have an immediate impact not only on neighboring countries, but also on the world as a whole. Examples of this kind would be the contamination caused by a disaster at sea or destruction of the ecosystem by ballast water.

Issues affecting the oceans ~ issues such as erosion of safety at sea and destruction of the marine environment ~ always have the potential to become international problems. Today, rapid innovations in technology and economic development are making maritime issues increasingly complex. To cope with these issues, we have two urgent duties, from both the legal standpoint and that of marine stewardship and ocean policy. One is to exercise discretion so as not to destabilize international relations, all the while avoiding conflicts of interest among neighboring parties. The other is to develop human resources with specialized knowledge of the oceans and a broad, global perspective.

In light of this situation surrounding the international maritime community, The Nippon Foundation hopes to launch, over a period of five years, two brand-new courses at IMLI. One relates to the preservation of the marine environment and the other is dedicated to maritime peace and security.

Our hope is that, together with the Institute’s traditional global network, these two new courses will result in the emergence of outstanding human resources from IMLI. These professionals will proactively work to influence the creation of rules of the sea at the IMO, and will possess the flexibility to deal with changes affecting the world’s oceans. We are confident the two new courses will provide rich soil for developing the people on whose shoulders will rest the future stability of international marine order.

Along with the initiatives taken by the IMO and governments around the world, I believe IMLI is capable of developing ways of achieving a new maritime community and a new marine order that go beyond conventional methods, fixed ideas and legal conventions. It has the capacity to develop the human resources needed to accomplish those tasks. It can then actively apply the results of that development to the maritime community. And to support those positive, forward-looking activities, The Nippon Foundation stands ready to do everything within its means.

On the occasion of this 20th Anniversary Seminar, we truly look forward to the Institute’s taking yet one more great step forward.