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Addressing Red Sea Crisis and Maritime Security Priorities 

In response to mounting maritime security concerns in the Red Sea area, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued a response letter affirming support for the proposed strategies put forth by the signatories to the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct. During correspondence with the Chairperson of the DCoC Steering Committee, Mr. Metse Ralephenya, the IMO Secretary-General (SG), Mr. Arsenio Dominguez, acknowledged the critical role that regional states can play in providing sustainable long-term solutions for the crisis and affirmed the commitment of the IMO in supporting the DCoC in implementing the Capacity Building initiatives agreed upon. 

The 8-point Action Plan, drawn from suggestions made in previous DCoC meetings, includes priorities such as:  

  1. Development of the DCoC Information Sharing Network (ISN) guided by the 2021 DCoC ISN Strategy and Roadmap and the regionally agreed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). 
  1. The Development of the DCoC Regional Maritime Security Strategy and Risk Register, pursuant to Resolution 2 of the Cape Town High-Level meeting (Oct 2023). 
  1. Support in Building Regional Coast Guard Capabilities, particularly in Somalia and Yemen. 
  1. Implementation of the DCoC Regional Training Programme. 
  1. Facilitate meetings on the implementation of the DCoC/JA. 
  1. Implementation of the ISPS Code 
  1. Support to regional states in enhancement of Maritime Security Governance, through the IMO model on the whole-of-government approach to maritime security. 
  1. Secretariat support for the implementation of the DCoC/JA. 
Figure 1. IMO’s Secretary General, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez (top left) during a virtual meeting with DCoC member states’ representatives on Jan 16, 2024. 

In his letter, the SG expressed appreciation for Mr. Ralephenya’s steadfast commitment to rallying DCoC member states in fulfilling the mandates of the DCoC/JA. Discussions are currently underway to tackle pressing issues surrounding the Red Sea crisis, with a particular focus on safeguarding the safety of seafarers, ensuring freedom of navigation, and implementing measures to mitigate threats faced by shipping in the Red Sea. 

Furthermore, the SG has actively engaged with diverse stakeholders, including regional navies and industry representatives, to address maritime security challenges in the Red Sea. Bilateral meetings aimed at fostering collaboration in enhancing maritime security have been conducted, recognizing the pivotal role of engagement with regional states in devising effective solutions that necessitate both international and regional efforts. 

The SG emphasized that the IMO Maritime Security Section (MSS) is diligently monitoring the situation, ensuring data accuracy, and providing regular updates to IMO member states and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 

Lastly, the Secretary-General and his team (EOSG) meticulously evaluated the proposed activities outlined in the CB priorities and action plan. Some activities have been integrated into existing IMO initiatives, while additional resources are being pursued for activities requiring implementation beyond the IMO’s purview. 

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