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2015 April 7

Vitaly Klyuev: “IMO needs changes and Russia knows how to deliver them”


For the first time in the history of Russia it nominates a candidate for the post of IMO Secretary-General. Russian candidate Vitaly Klyuev talks to IAA PortNews through the arguments to be offered to the international maritime community in support of this decision.

- Mr. Klyuev, could you please tell why Russia and you personally decided to stand for such a high post in IMO?

- As for the position of Russia, the answer is quite simple.

It is the right time now, IMO is ripe for changes. Russia has been a member of IMO from the very beginning and it is fully involved in IMO developments. Therefore, we quite see the long-felt need and we know how to meet the challenges, how to improve the IMO work and contribute to the IMO life. At the same time, we insist on the IMO Secretariat to remain independent from individual State or any group of States but be guided by collegial decisions. It is the Secretariat that is in charge of prompt and full implementation of all decisions taken by the Organization.

As IMO regulations  are globally applicable, Russia depends on them to a great extent. In fact, more than 60% of our total foreign trade is performed through seaborne trade. We have 68 seaports with the access to three oceans.

- It is a crucial decision of yours. Do you realize it will demand much more efforts and energy than ever before?

- My whole life, from my childhood, is connected with the sea and shipping. My father was a ship master, my elder brother also served in the industry. That is why I feel the sea and shipping as my inner life. I graduated from the Navigation faculty of the Far-Eastern High Engineering Maritime College and from the Institute of International Relationships of the Far-Eastern State University. Then I studied in the U.S.A., Japan, and again in Russia. I think I have enough knowledge, skills and energy to contribute to maritime developments worldwide. What is very important, I see and fully share the position of Russia and some other large maritime nations on further development of IMO and on optimization of the IMO Secretariat work.

- Your biography says you have an academic degree - Doctor of Transport. What is your practical experience in international organizations?


- I used to work quite actively in the international maritime sector. I started as a Manager of Asia-Pacific Computerized Information System (AРСIS) – regional information system of the Tokyo MOU on Port State Control (PSC), which is still among the world’s best information systems on PSC. I was in charge of creation of the Black Sea Information System (BSIS) – regional information system of the Black Sea MOU on PSC. Later on, I was entrusted to become a Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committees of the Tokyo, Black Sea and Paris MOU on PSC. I visited more than 50 IMO Member States located on all continents being engaged in maritime related activities. I have been participating in IMO work from 1999 with different functions. Since I am responsible for elaboration of Russian delegations’ positions for all IMO events, I am familiar with the whole range of issues which are under discussion of IMO. Long-lasting close interaction with the IMO Secretariat and personally with the Secretary-General of IMO has allowed me to understand the work and the problems of the Secretariat, both structurally and organizationally.

- With such practical experience as you have, what programme would you suggest as a candidate for the post of the IMO Secretary-General?

- In my opinion, major points of focus of the Secretary-General for the nearest future are as follows:

First of all, reforms initiated by the incumbent SG should be completed while keeping the adequate budget of the Organization and maintaining the adequate composition and ability of the Secretariat staff;

Secondly, it is necessary to focus on proper and effective implementation of IMO Member States Audit Scheme (IMSAS) as well as on improving of reporting scheme including electronic means. The current system does not allow to  achieve the result set forth by the Conventions. That is one of the major concerns of IMO with the Secretariat being responsible for a solution.

We believe that special attention should be paid to collection of data on implementation of mandatory requirements by Member States and difficulties faced by Member States in this respect. Practical solutions should be proposed for implementation of the approved requirements by all countries without exception, otherwise the efficiency of such requirements weakens considerably.

Moreover, it seems reasonable to introduce a quality management system in the Secretariat. We have developed and approved the International Safety Management Code and require shipping companies, vessels and port facilities to plan their security systems, we implement goal-based standards, we call on the maritime educational institutions to introduce quality management systems while the Secretariat does not apply the advanced methods of formalized quality management systems in its work. I think it is time for the Secretariat to give a lead and develop a quality management system for itself.


It is also necessary to develop and implement the Secretariat programme of proactive communication with every Member State focusing on developing countries, maintaining up-to-date communication channels between the Secretariat and every Member State. With the first-hand experience I understand how complicated the work of a maritime authority is, especially if it is as diversified as ours. Hence there are difficulties in interaction with the Secretariat, which should be proactive in its contacts with the Member States. The approach of the Secretariat staff should be reconfigured  based on the  following principle ‘it is the Secretariat  for the IMO Member States and not vice versa’. It is also important to exclude the influence of the Secretariat staff  on the concept of IMO decisions – the Secretariat is just an instrument here, not the decision making body.

To evaluate the mandatory requirements under development or those already elaborated it is essential to introduce an efficient system of instruments based on risk assessment. Regulatory impact assessment should be applied to regulations, both under development and existing, at all stages of the rule-making process. This will make our decisions more realistic and let us avoid  future disputes on feasibility  of such decisions before they come into force and exclude the practice of adopting resolutions postponing de facto the enactment of certain mandatory requirements. In this respect, all the technical work can and should be done by the Secretariat with consequent submitting of the full information to the related collegial IMO bodies.

Besides, a comprehensive review of the existing regulations should be initiated to provide more flexibility to the industry while maintaining the equivalent or higher level of safety.

- What are you chances of success?

- It’s hard to say. Russia has made this step for the first time. As a candidate, I will do my best to assure the voting Member States in my abilities and competence for this post.

Mr. Koji Sekimizu, the incumbent  SG of IMO has visited Russia several times. We talked a lot with him discussing the work of the Organization, its strengths and weaknesses. Recently, when we applied to the Secretariat for participation in the forthcoming elections, Mr. Koji Sekimizu not only did not surprise, but  commented favourably on my candidacy. Actually, it was the recognition that gave me a special positive impulse and brought the confidence.  

- Thank you, Mr. Klyuev, for the interview. We are rooting for you!

Interviewed by Nadezhda Malysheva.