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IN an earlier article,’ it was shown how the Inter-governmental

Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), a United Nations
Specialized Agency located in London, had been forced to expand
its base of operations due to the foundering of the Torrey Canyon
off the coast of Cornwall. The sinking of this supertanker revealed
large inadequacies in public international law and IMCO, as a re-
sult, had to become a centre of maritime legal activities in addition
to its work on marine safety and other maritime technical matters.
Becoming a technical-legal organization rather than just a technical
organization was considered to be the second stage of IMCO’s
evolution, and it was suggested that one could only predict what
IMCO’s third stage would be after one had learned what the next
major maritime crisis was. That is, there was a strong inference
that IMCO could not act in advance of crises, it could only react
after it had been caught short. The next crisis has occurred. It is
not a uniquely maritime crisis, for it has affected all the inter-
national organizations in the United Nations network, but this
article will concentrate on IMCO’s reaction to it. It is the crisis
in international relationships caused by the Third World’s attain-
ment of majority voting power in international organizations. It
has received its greatest prominence in the General Assembly’s
Declaration of the New International Economic Order, but IMCO,
as a non-economic organization, is affected only symbolically by
this. In IMCO, the explicit manifestation has evolved more
quietly: incremental changes in the constitutional articles, in bud-
getary emphases, in executive practices, and in attitudes in plenary
discussions. Taken altogether, however, they reveal IMCO’s third
stage as a comprehensive redirection to focus now on technical
cooperation and Third World needs, to the provision of this as a
substructure to undergird the technical-legal elements.
A definitive starting date for IMCO’s third stage cannot be
objectively established. The year 1973 is the best approximation,
although there is evidence of a consideration of Third Wor ld needs

Robert I. McLaren, "Pollution Probe in the Global Village," Inter-
national Journal XXX (Winter, 1974-75), 127-40.

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and feelings before this. As far back as 1964, IMCO’s Council

and Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) were reconstituted so as
to reflect the concept of &dquo;equitable geographical distribution&dquo;
(EGD) by reserving more seats for developing countries. However,
these changes to IMCO’s two principal committees took most of
the 1960’s to be implemented and did not alter the balance of
power in either of them in any case, at least not significantly;2
they only indicated that the IMCO membership no longer wanted
the organization to be thought of as &dquo;the rich men’s club.&dquo; It was
not until the year 1973 that two actions were initiated by IMCO
that would have a long-lasting effect on the organization and
which would give a significant voice to the Third World in the
organization’s deliberations.
The first of these two actions was the election of Mr. C. P.
Srivastava as Secretary-General of IMCO. As a citizen of India,
Mr. Srivastava was the first representative of a Third World
country to be chosen to head the IMCO Secretariat, and there is
no doubt that the Third World countries in IMCO viewed him
in this way. When IlVCO’s Council called in November, 1972, for
nominations for a new Secretary-General to take office as of 1974,
six countries-Ghana, Netherlands, West Germany, India, France,
and Syria-responded, although only the first five proved to have
serious nominees for the position. The Council then met on 6
June 1973 for the election. The representative from Ghana began
the meeting by withdrawing his country’s nomination in favour of
Mr. Srivastava, so as &dquo;... to avoid splitting votes, and as a token
of solidarity between developing countries.&dquo; Further, an implica-
tion was made that Ghana had only submitted its nomination in
the first place to ensure that the principle of EGD would be met
since, for IMCO’s first fifteen years of existence, &dquo;... it had always
had a European as Secretary-General; and however outstanding
they had been, it was undesirable for the practice to continue.&dquo;’
The representative from the Netherlands then withdrew his
country’s nomination in favour of Air. Srivastava, explaining that
the original nomination had been presented &dquo;... in fulfillment of
a long-cherished hope and without regard to considerations of

regional or country groupings which were out of place in an or-

ganization such as IMCO.&dquo; The words of the Ghanaian speaker
had swayed him, however, so that the delegation now saw the

For an analysis of the results of these changes in the 1960’s, see Robert
I. McLaren, "Equitable Geographical Distribution in the UN—IMCO,
A Case Study," India Ouarterly XXIX (April-June, 1973), 151-54.
IMCO/C.XXX/SR.5/1, p.2.

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wisdom of selecting a Secretary-General who would have the

characteristics of being both &dquo;... highly qualified and also enjoy
the support of a large number of countries.&dquo;4
This left three candidates and the speeches now switched from
the principal stress being put on EGD to the main emphasis being
placed upon the qualifications of the nominees. However, extrane-
ous matters were not ignored. The representative from West

Germany related how his nominee &dquo;... had represented his coun-
try at every Council and Assembly session as well as at every
IIWiCO diplomatic conference,&dquo; but added as well that the West
German government had long wanted to have one of its nationals
in a key United Nations post and the election of its nominee would
certainly &dquo;... do much to increase the interest taken by its people
and its Parliament in United Nations work.&dquo;’
The representative from France stressed the fact that his candi-
date had been Deputy Secretary-General of IMCO for the previous
five years and had thus &dquo;... acquired wide experience of the
Organization’s work&dquo; to complement his personal qualifications as
&dquo;... a sailor, an administrator and a lawyer.&dquo; Furthermore, the
election of this candidate would &dquo;... have the advantage of free-
ing the post of Deputy Secretary-General which could be occupied
by a representative of a developing country.&dquo;6 (The cynic would
suggest that France’s traditional motto of &dquo;liberty, equality, and
fraternalism&dquo; had become &dquo;liberty, equality, and paternalism.&dquo;)
Finally, the Indian representative spoke, thanking Ghana and
the Netherlands for their support, and stressing Mr. Srivastava’s
abilities and experience with the Indian Merchant Marine and with
diplomatic duties for the Indian Prime Minister and UNCTAD’s
Committee on Shipping.7 Although Mr. Srivastava had both
domestic and international experience in the matters that IMCO
regulated, it could be said that, of the three candidates, he had
the least amount of actual experience with IMCO, itself.
Mr. Srivastava won the election on the first ballot, being named
by 14 of the 18 delegations.8 The countries represented on the
IMCO Council at that time were Algeria, Australia, Belgium,
Brazil, Canada, France, Ghana, Greece, India, Italy, Japan,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, United Kingdom, United States of
America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and West Germany.

Ibid. pp.2-3.
Ibid, p.3.
’ Ibid.
Ibid, p.4.

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Depending upon how one categorizes the racial characteristics of

Japan and/or the poverty of Greece, only from four to six of the
countries could be said to represent the Third World. Thus, it was
the developed countries, not the developing ones, that gave IMCO
its first Secretary-General from the Third World. As will be shown
below, it was also a developed country that initiated the second
of these two significant actions in 1973.
Looking back at the election of Mr. Srivastava, one could legiti-
mately ask whether it was personal qualifications or only citizen-
ship that won the election. It was certainly the latter as far as the
representative from Ghana was concerned; he concluded the elec-
tion with the viewpoint that a tribute had been given &dquo;... to India
and to all the developing countries by the election of mar. Srivastava
by a large majority.&dquo; In his view, it was a confirmation of the
principle of IJGI~.9 However, if one accepts the principle from
organization theory that the executive head of an organization
should be principally oriented towards the external activities and
responsibilities of the organization rather than the internal opera-
tions and administration,’° then Mr. Srivastava would appear to
have been the most highly qualified of the three candidates.
According to that theory, the nominee from France should have
been the acknowledged expert on IMCO’s internal administration
and thus it could be said that it would have been very inappropri-
ate to remove him from that position; the nominee from West
Germany could also be said to have been most knowledgeable
about internal affairs, the political machinations within IMCO of
the member-government representatives, and so not as well quali-
field as Mr. Srivastava to represent the organization externally.
But that does not just leave Mr. Srivastava winning by default.
In his own right, he had the personal contacts and, perhaps more
importantly, the diplomatic skills required to represent the organ-
ization in inter-governmental circles, to defend it and to ensure its
continued growth. With the election of Mr. Srivastava by the
IMCO Council (and its subsequent unanimous ratification by the
IMCO Assembly in November, 1973), the Third World revealed,
for the first time, its strength in IMCO’s inner circles; however,
whether it stormed the walls or merely walked in through a door
that had been opened for it is a debatable matter.
The Netherlands was also involved in the second of these two

For example, see Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, The Social Psycho-
logy of Organizations (New York: John Willey & Sons, Inc., 1966), 313-

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1973 actions. On 29 October 1973, the Royal Netherlands Em-

bassy in London sent a Note Verbale to IMCO’s Secretary-
General, suggesting that IMCO’s two principal committees, the
Council and the MSC, were no longer representative of IMCO’s
evolving membership, and accordingly should have their composi-
tions altered to reflect the new reality. This new reality was the
fact that the majority of IMCO’s member-governments represented
developing countries, not developed ones. The Netherlands plan
was: 1) to enlarge the Council from 18 to 21 seats, with 9 of
these reserved for the Third World instead of the previous 6; and
2) to open the MSC to all IMCO member-governments, in the
same manner as IMCO’s other committees, Legal, Facilitation,
Technical Cooperation, and its proposed Maritime Environment
Protection Committee, were open to all members and did not
impose restrictions on participation.&dquo; Since IMCO’s chief execu-
tive body, the Council, would still be dominated by the developed
countries, while the MSC is principally a non-political, technical
body concerned with a universal goal, safety, the original Nether-
lands proposal could be said to be merely good, cost-free, public
relations for the developed countries. It certainly did not bring
any direct benefits to the Netherlands, itself, within IMCO.
In particular, IMCO’s Eighth Assembly in November, 1973, did
not elect the Netherlands to the IMCO Council for the first time
in the organization’s history. The Netherlands had served seven
consecutive two-year terms to the end of 1973; it has failed to be
elected to any of the three IMCO Councils since then. In fact, in
November, 1975, at IMCO’s Ninth Assembly, the Netherlands
suggested that any support for it be transferred to Belgium,’2 and
l3elgium, too, then lost a seat that it had held for the previous
three Councils, and for seven of the first eight periods. The status
of the Netherlands with regard to the MSC fared no better. This
body is elected for four-year terms rather than the Council’s two-
year periods. The Netherlands had been elected to every MSC
prior to 1973; it failed to be elected in 1973, and there have been
no subsequent elections as the MSC now has &dquo;universal&dquo; member-

ship. About the only benefit accruing to the Netherlands from its
Note Verbale is the attribution that all of the constitutional
changes that have occurred in IMCO in the mid-1970’s are usually
said to have stemmed from &dquo;The Netherlands Proposal.&dquo; Did the
Netherlands expect more?


IMCO/A.IX/SR.7, p.7.

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The feeling among both IMCO Secretariat officials and

member-government representatives is that the Netherlands, in
late 1973, felt themselves unpopular with the Arab countries be-
cause they had been receiving Jewish refugees. The Dutch Minister
of Foreign Affairs had publicly supported Israel at that time. On
his own initiative, then, the Netherlands representative to IMCO,
Mr. J. J. Schuld, had formulated &dquo;The Netherlands Proposal.&dquo;
There was some discussion between him and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in The Hague, but only for confirmation of the
action. Nor had Mr. Schuld consulted the representatives of other
developed countries. It was a surprise to them, too, but acceptable
in principle both because it had become obvious to all that some
change was soon going to be required anyway, and because Mr.
Schuld, himself, had had, for a long time, the reputation of being
a good friend&dquo; of IMCO who would only want to see the organ-
ization thrive. However, it is generally considered that neither the
proposal nor Mr. Schuld’s good reputation were sufficient to over-
come the prejudice against the Netherlands, albeit external to

IMCO, and the Netherlands lost its seats on the IMCO Council
and the MSC.’3
The Netherlands Proposal, itself, went forward from IMCO’s
Council to the Eighth General Assembly, having been fully dis-
cussed and especially approved by Belgium, France, Ghana, Kenya,
and West Germany. In addition, the last of these had submitted a
note on IMCO’s work Programme and Budget for the forthcoming
Financial Period in which it suggested that the developing coun-
tries did not seem to regard IMCO favourably and that constitu-
tional changes seemed to be required in IMCO, especially in
delimiting IMCO’s functions vis-a-vis other international organiza-
tions;’~ this, too, went forward to the Assembly, although kept
separate from the Netherlands Proposal.
At IMCO’s Eighth Assembly, as could be expected in an inter-
national organization, discussion of the item was focussed prin-
cipally on the procedural question of how to deal with the matter,
rather than with its substance. Should the Netherlands propose
its amendments directly to an Extraordinary Session of the Assem-
bly or should the matter be turned over to a Working Group
which could then receive proposals from other countries before
making a final recommendation to an Extraordinary Session? The
latter was the majority’s view and Assembly Resolution No. 314

Private interviews, IMCO, Tenth Assembly, London, 8-16 November
IMCO/A.VIII/24/1and Corr. 1.

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created an Ad Hoc Working Group open to all member-govern-

ments. Switzerland expressed the only negative opinions on the
substance of the proposal at that time, suggesting that an open
membership for the MSC would lower that committee’s prestige
and that &dquo;rotation&dquo; principles should be established for the EGD
sections of the Council’s membership.&dquo;&dquo;
The Ad Hoc Working Group met in London in February, 1974,
with representatives from 37 countries in attendance. In the in-
terim, only France had presented another proposal, and the
Secretary-General presented information on the practices in other
Specialized Agencies and technical bodies. Both the Netherlands
and France proposed an open membership for the MSC and the
Ad Hoc Working Group agreed to this, with some reservations.
As for membership on the Council, the Netherlands proposal had
been for a split of 6, 6, and 9 in the three categories of member-
ship ; it had previously stated that it had chosen the figure of 21
since it felt that most executive bodies were 25-30% of member-
ship. (IMCO had approximately 80-85 members in late 1973.)
France proposed a Council of 24 members, evenly divided in four
categories with a new Category D reserved exclusively for Third
World countries. The ensuing discussion revolved around whether
Category C, the EGD category, should be reserved exclusively for
the developing countries (Categories A and B having been tradi-
tionally reserved for those countries which are the largest ship-
owners and shipping-users respectively). The compromise arrived
~.~ was for a Council of 24 members with Category C doubled to
12 members, but not reserved exclusively for the Third World. In
accepting the compromise, some of the developing countries said
that 12 of the seats should be reserved for them, no matter which
category.&dquo; At an Extraordinary Session in October, 1974, the
H,,1CO Assembly then approved these amendments to its Constitu-
ton, as recommended by the Ad Hoc Working Group, and they
finally came into effect as of 1 April 1978. By the end of 1977,
II~CG’s council of 18 was evenly divided between developed and
developing―Canada, France, West Germany, Japan, Norway,
Romania, USSR, United Kingdom, USA versus Algeria, Argentina,
Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan; the
six additional members for 1978-Egypt, Kenya, Kuwait, Malta,
Mexico, Peru-then shifted the &dquo;balance of power&dquo; to the favour
of the Third World. Australia was the only nominee from the
Oceania area of the world for one of the six new seats, but it was

IMCO/A.VIII/C.1/SR.2, pp.7-8.

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defeated, ’7 reinforcing the oft-heard contention that EGD is merely

a euphemism for Third World representation.
In July, 1974, halfway between the Ad Hoc Working Group’s
meeting and that of the Assembly’s Fifth Extraordinary Session,
France made further proposals to alter IMCO’s Constitution. These
were that: 1) the IMCO Council should be increased in import-

ance ; 2) the Legal Committee and the Maritime Environment

Protection Committee (MEPC) should be as autonomous as the
MSC; 3) there should no longer be a special Secretary for the
MSC (or there would have to be others for the other committees);
and 4) amendment to the Constitution should require simply a
two-thirds vote of the Assembly.’ The upshot of this was that
the Ad Hoc Working Group has continued to meet periodically
to deal with this and other proposals that have come forth in the
1970’s from IMCO member-governments, almost always the de-
veloped members, to alter IMCO’s constitution. Only one of these
proposals is of concern here. At INfC®’s Ninth Assembly in
November, 1975, a proposal to institutionalize the Technical Co-
operation Commitee within the Constitution was defeated as being
premature,&dquo; although Assembly Resolution No. 360 was passed
requesting the Ad Hoc Working Group to investigate the matter.
This would have given the Technical Cooperation Committee the
same status as the MSC, the Legal Committee, and the lB1EPC,
and would have hade IMCO even more unique among UN
bodies. By February, 1977, when the Ad Hoc Working Group
met again, with 43 countries present, both France and the USA
had made proposals supporting the institutionalization and how
it should be enacted. Egypt spoke in favour of the proposals at
the meeting, and the Ad Hoc Working Group agreed to recom-
mend this to IMCO’s Tenth Assembly in November, 1977, where
it was approved.2° The institutionalization of this committee does
make IMCO unique to the UN network because heretofore
technical cooperation has always been regarded as a temporary
measure of finite duration; in effect, IMCO is suggesting a radical
alteration to that viewpoint, an admission that the &dquo;gap&dquo; between
developed and developing is not going to be overcome in the fore-
seeable future, that &dquo;the poor ye shall have always with you.&dquo; The
consequences of this admission, both for the rest of the UN net-
work of organizations and for 1M CO, itself, must be left for future
observation, bui with great curiosity.
IMCO/A.X/SR.8, p.15.
IMCO/A.IX/C.1/2, p.6.
IMCO/Resolution A. 400 (X).

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IMCO’s Technical Cooperation Committee has always been

dominated by the developed countries, not the developing. It began
as a Working Group in October, 1969, and was elevated to the
status of a Committee in 1972 by IMCO’s Council. IMCO’s Sixth
Assembly in November, 1969, had refused to give it this additional
permanency because, in the novelty of the area, the need and its
projected duration had not been estimated; in the thinking of the
developed countries, the possibility still existed that technical co-
operation might only be a short-term matter. The impetus for the
Working Group had come from a proposal by Brazil that IMCO’s
Secretary-General conduct a survey to determine the problems
encountered by developing countries in accepting and implement-
ing the recommendations of IMCO’s Conventions and Assembly
Resolutions. A consultant had been hired from the American gov-
ernment and his initial survey in Latin America was the substance
of the Working Group’s first agenda.&dquo; In the Committee’s delibera-
tions throughout the 1970’s, there has been nothing exceptional nor
unexpected; thus, the justification for institutionalizing the Tech-
nical Cooperation Committee (TCC) must come from the constant
goal of helping the developing countries to implement IMCO’s
standards. Since one can expect IMCO to continuously set or in-
crease technical standards as long as it exists, one can assume that
the necessity for the TCC will remain for as long. Still, this reason-
ing also assumes that at least some of the developing countries will
never be able to handle this on their own. In 1976, the TCC
established its priorities as:e 1) short-term missions of two experts
on maritime training (costing approximately $10,000 per mission);

2) very-short-term missions giving advice concerning marine pollu-

tion ($4,000 - $5,000 per mission); and 3) one-month fellowships
for Third World people at laboratories and institutions in the
developed countries ($2,000 each). The money would come from
either the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) or
bilateral sources within the developed countries. The TCC also
initiated the establishment of Regional Advisers for Africa, Asia,
and Latin America, and Inter-Regional Advisers for Maritime
Legislation and for Maritime Safety Administration; the host
countries would bear the cost of the Regional Offices, while the
UNDP would pay salary and travel expenses.&dquo; The TCC has thus
been instrumental in establishing technical cooperation as a major
program emphasis and orientation within IMCO.


IMCO/WGTC.1/5, p.2.
IMCO/TC.XII/12, p.2; IMCO/TC.XIII/7, pp.2-4.

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Of course, this new orientation is soon reflected in IMCO’s

budget and secretariat positions. For 1979, the IMCO Secretary-
General estimates that its Technical Cooperation Division will cost
$808,700, of which $327,600 will come from the Regular Budget
and the rest from the UNDP. This expenditure will allow IMCO
to execute approximately $2 million worth of projects, or, in other
words, for every dollar spent for the developing countries, forty
cents is spent for the IMCO Secretariat. The total estimate for
1979 for the IMCO Secretariat, including its Technical Cooperation
Division, is $7,396,600, so that the Technical Cooperation Division
is now approximately 11%. In the Secretariat’s staf&dquo;t, the Technical
Cooperation Division is to be a complement of 31 out of a total
of 228,z3 or 13.5 °,% . Each of the other six divisions of the IMCO
Secretariat has comparable figures, so that it can be concluded
that technical cooperation is a full-fledged part of the organization.
It cannot be said that everything that has happened in IMCO
in the 1970’s is a result of the Third World’s emphasis on aiding
itself, nor even the majority of events. IMCO is still predominantly
concerned with legal matters and with its technical and safety com-
mittees, and has become involved in protection of the marine
environment, too. However, the Constitution has been altered to
reflect the membership’s Developing-Socialist-Developed split, a
ratio that is unlikely to need further alteration as IMCO, with 105
members, rapidly approaches its &dquo;logical&dquo; size of 110 non-land-
locked countries. Furthermore, its non-executive committees are
now open to all its members, rich and poor alike (although the

experience of the Ad Hoc Working Group would suggest that less

than one-half the members will ever be able to afford to attend).
Finally, technical cooperation now undergirds the organization’s
previous structure; it emphasizes the training of people so that
&dquo;human error&dquo; can be reduced in shipping, and the development
of humans and human potential is what the Third World has been
seeking. The new Secretary-General is a symbol of all of these
change; his four-year contract has been renewed for a second
term and there is now no doubt that IMCO is no longer adrift,
but has a determined captain who plans to sail the organization on
both chartered and unchartered waters.

IMCO/C.XXXVIII/ 15, pp.98-101; and Annexes III, IV.

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