Denmark and Cyprus fight for IMO Secretary General position

Two gentlemen named Andreas will go head to head for the position as Secretary General of the IMO. The four other candidates are considered practically out of the race. Read on to learn what tricks the two candidates have up their sleeves to land the international top job.
Photo: Søfartsstyrelsen
Photo: Søfartsstyrelsen


The race to become the next Secretary General of the UN's International Maritime Organization IMO will probably play out between two men named Andreas. More specifically, the Denmark's Andreas Nordseth, Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority, and Cypriot Andreas Chrysostomou, who has a long carrier at the IMO behind him.

According to ShippingWatch's sources, the other four candidates from Kenya, South Korea, Russia and the Philippines, respectively, are far behind the two top candidates and would have to suddenly become very strong dark horses to get back in the game.

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Both Andreases hold advantages, but also disadvantages in terms of securing the position as head of the top international agency in shipping. What they have in common is that they both announced their candidacy early and have been able to campaign since the turn of the year.

Intense campaign

Andreas Nordseth is in a strong position to get the job as he has drawn attention to himself in recent months by leading a massive campaign for the members of the IMO Council. The Council will meet from the 29th of June to the 3rd of July, at which point they will choose a candidate for final approval by the IMO Assembly in November this year.

The council includes 40 member states and - according to ShippingWatch's sources - Andreas Nordseth has visited almost all of the 40 countries since January this year, and he has "practically been living in an airplane." In addition, the Dane already has good connections to the Council and the Assembly respectively, through his work in Danish shipping over many years.

It is seen as an extra advantage for Andreas Nordseth that he is Danish, as Denmark, in addition to being a major shipping nation, has also been at the forefront of numerous environmental matters in international fora. This is a cause that makes many NGOs, among others, hope that he gets the position, which makes him a politically correct choice. But being Danish can also be a disadvantage, as there has previously been a Danish Secretary General and UN organizations traditionally like to promote that different nations take a part in the leadership. The Danish history at the IMO, however, dates as far back in time as 1959-1061, when Ove Nielsen held the position as Secretary General.

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Another hurdle for Nordseth could also be that he does not have strong enough connections at the IMO, seeing as he has not worked in the organization but only cooperated with it, compared to his Cypriot comptetitor.

Familiar with the organization

Andreas Chrysostomou is more familiar with the IMO from the inside, because he has been a part of the organization for a number of years, serving as Chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) for ten years among other positions. He has also been a part of several UN organizations and has vast experience with international cooperation.

Like Andreas Nordseth, the Cypriot has led a comprehensive campaign early on in the process by finding a new Chairman and drawing attention to himself by being active on social media to spread his message.

Chrysostomou's nationality as a Cypriot could be a problem for him, because he comes from the Greek part of Cyprus. The IMO had two consecutive Greek chairmen before the current Secretary General Koji Sekimizu, and therefore it is plausible that he will have to work very hard with the IMO Council in order to set himself apart from his predecessors.

Weak field

According to ShippingWatch's sources, the remaining four candidates in the IMO election do not carry the same weight as the two Andreases to become Secretary General.

Russia's candidate Vitaly Klyiev, who is the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Transportation in Russia, is estimated to have very poor odds. Especially due to Russia being in a very negative political light following the annexation of Crimea. The Kenyan candidate, Juvenal Shundu, has previously been described as a potential breakthrough candidate for the position of Secretary General, but now rumors are circulating that Kenya is considering retracting his nomination, as it does not seem to be of particularly great interest to him.

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The Korean Lim Ki-Tak currently holds the position as head of the Busan Port Authority and is said to have launched his campaign too late in the game to really gather a sufficient amount of support. Meanwhile it could be a problem for him that he comes from the same region as the current Japanese chairman. The Philippine candidate Maximo Q. Mejia Jr. is the head of the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority and his candidacy surprised many, as Mejia is very involved in work with creating better conditions for Philippine seafarers and certifying them, and for this reason it was assumed that he would stay in the country. Mejia could be a challenger to Andreas and Andreas, but in that case he would have to struggle with the fact that he is not particularly well known in the IMO.

Koji Sekimizu will step down at the end of 2015. The reason for his resignation is illness in the immediate family and he announced already in the fall of 2014 that he planned on giving up his top position.

The 40 members of the current Council, elected for 2014-2015 and which will decide the future of the candidates, is divided into three groups:

States with the largest interest in providing international shipping service:

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, South Korea, Russia, the UK and the US.

States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

States not elected under the categories above which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.

These are the candidates for Secretary General of the IMO

How Singapore and Denmark will target maritime growth 

Election campaign for IMO top job begins 

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