Arsenio Dominguez Triumphs as New IMO Secretary-General

Arsenio Dominguez

Posted on Jul 20, 2023 at 12:07 AM

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a vital institution responsible for shaping the global maritime sector, is set to welcome a new Secretary-General. This election comes at a crucial juncture in the history of the marine industry as it faces mounting pressure to decarbonise and achieve ambitious emission reduction targets.

The incumbent Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim of the Republic of Korea, will conclude his term on December 31, 2023, paving the way for the appointment of a new leader. Seven member states have put forward their candidates for this prestigious position, highlighting the significance and global interest surrounding the IMO's work.

In a notable shift towards inclusivity and gender equality, three of the seven nominees for the Secretary-General role are female. This marks a remarkable change in the IMO's approach towards promoting women's involvement and training within the maritime industry, both within its organisations and the broader transportation sector.

The candidates vying for the position are Moin Uddin Ahmed from Bangladesh, Suat Hayri Aka from Turkey, Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco from Panama, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry from Dominica, Nancy Karigithu from Kenya, Minna Kivimäki from Finland, and Zhang Xiaojie from China.

Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Nancy Karigithu, and Minna Kivimäki were eliminated in the initial rounds following a rigorous selection process. Moin Ahmed from Bangladesh also withdrew his candidacy during the council voting process.

IMO Secretary-General

On Tuesday, July 18, the election took place at the IMO Headquarters, where representatives from member states cast their votes. After the election, the Council's decision will be presented to the 33rd session of the IMO Assembly in the latter half of 2023 for final approval.

In a closely contested race, Arsenio Dominguez from Panama emerged as the victor in the fourth round of voting, securing 21 votes. He triumphed over the contenders from Finland and Turkey, solidifying his position as the leading figure in international shipping diplomacy.

Arsenio Dominguez, aged 52 and currently serving as the director of the maritime environment division at the secretariat, expressed his determination to bring about transformative change in an interview following his election. He stated, "I'm not afraid of disturbing things a little bit to actually get change." Dominguez's proactive stance aligns with the IMO's mission to tackle the industry's pressing challenges head-on.

The newly elected Secretary-General stressed his readiness to deliver results from day one, assuring delegates that he is the right choice for the current climate. Dominguez's leadership will be instrumental in guiding the maritime sector towards a sustainable future as IMO member nations strive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The IMO is currently working to update its climate policy, which aims to reduce ship emissions by 50% by 2050. The forthcoming IMO MEPC 80, scheduled for July 2023 in London, is expected to be a pivotal climate forum for the shipping sector this year. A key objective of this summit is to ensure that at least 5% of fuels used in international shipping are scalable zero-emission fuels by 2030.

Given member states' growing imperative for complete decarbonisation by 2050, the outcome of this summit will have far-reaching implications for the industry. The appointment of Arsenio Dominguez as the new IMO Secretary-General injects fresh energy into the organisation's commitment to chart a sustainable and prosperous course for the maritime sector.

As the IMO embarks on this new chapter with a dynamic leader at the helm, the world watches with anticipation, aware that today's decisions will shape the future of global maritime affairs.


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