Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, IMO Assembly

“The Netherlands is a flag state, a port state and a coastal state. Every year, more than 50,000 vessels moor at our maritime ports. More than 250,000 ships pass by our coast every year. It’s crucial for all of our Kingdom that the ships in our ports and passing along our coast are safe, and cause as little environmental impact as possible.”

Speech by Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen, Tuesday November 26 2019 at the IMO Assembly in London.

Secretary-General Lim, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you. I’m honoured to represent the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the campaign for our re-election to the Council in category B.

The Netherlands was one of the founders of IMO in 1948 and we’ve always had a seat on the Council. I welcome the fact that 11 countries are now running for 10 seats. It means IMO has become more important! And more influential! And that’s a development I greatly support.

Before I tell you why a seat on the Council is so important for our Kingdom, I’d like to congratulate IMO. In late October the ministerial conference on fishing vessel safety took place in Torremolinos and the results are promising!

Fishing vessels are still regularly involved in fatal accidents at sea. So it’s crucial that we draw up global standards on fishing vessel safety. And that these are ratified by as many countries as possible. In this regard the conference was a big success!


Now. About our candidacy. I’d like to explain why the Kingdom of the Netherlands is so eager to keep its seat on the Council.

The Netherlands is a nation of water. We have a rich maritime history and a flourishing maritime industry. We’re known around the world for our modern fleet: 2,200 vessels with some 30,000 crew members. What’s more, we’re acclaimed for our innovations and our high standards when it comes to safety and sustainability.

The Netherlands is a flag state, a port state and a coastal state. Every year, more than 50,000 vessels moor at our maritime ports – the biggest of which are Rotterdam and Amsterdam. So we’re a major gateway to Europe. The largest part of our Kingdom is situated along the North Sea – one of the busiest seas in the world. More than 250,000 ships pass by our coast every year.

The other part of our Kingdom – including the Small Island Developing States of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten – is located in the Caribbean. For them, ships are a lifeline, bringing supplies and providing another way on and off the islands.

It’s crucial for all of our Kingdom that the ships in our ports and passing along our coast are safe, and cause as little environmental impact as possible. So we depend on good international agreements made by IMO here in London.

Sadly, I can give you a recent example of why this is so very important. On the night of 1 January this year, MSC Zoe, one of the world’s largest container ships, lost 342 containers off the north coast of the Netherlands.

This is why the Netherlands plays an active role in so many areas within IMO. From sulphur and nitrogen, to carbon emissions and paraffin. From safety during the construction and maintenance of offshore wind parks, to trials with innovative, autonomous ships.

We submit proposals and chair the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR). We’re actively involved in the Council’s reform process and we’re often first to ratify IMO treaties.

Ladies and gentlemen,

New, major challenges lie ahead, and we should waste no time in working out effective solutions. The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to be your partner in this endeavour.

Thank you.