IMO Director of Legal Affairs Delivers Special Lecture on Black Sea Grain Initiative

On 12 January, WMU students had the opportunity to interact with Mr Frederick Kenney, Director of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Legal Affairs and External Relations Division. Mr Kenney delivered a morning lecture for students in the Maritime Law & Policy (MLP) specialization on the roles and obligations of maritime administrations, and in the afternoon, a lecture for all students and faculty on The Black Sea Grain Initiative: Development, Implementation, Results and Issues. 

In 2022, Mr Kenney served as the initial Coordinator for the United Nations at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) for the Black Sea Initiative on safe transportation of grain, fertilizer and foodstuffs from Ukraine. The Initiative was brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye to reintroduce vital food and fertilizer exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world to help stabilize spiraling food prices worldwide and stave off famine, affecting millions. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters of around 45 million tonnes annually. Following Russia’s invasion of the country in late February 2022, shipments of grain stores were unable to secure safe passage to and from Ukrainian ports. Mr Kenney provided insight regarding the complexities of such sensitive international negotiations as well as an update on the current situation in the aftermath of the agreement. He described the experience of being part of the negotiations as one of the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of his career.

Mr Kenney’s morning lecture on the roles and obligations of maritime administrations focused on the implementation of IMO instruments, the legal structure as well as current issues. Looking at the maritime industry historically, Mr Kenney emphasized the increased focus of the IMO in recent years on the implementation of IMO instruments. He referred to the increase over the last decades of open registries and the growth of the shipping industry. He also highlighted deficiencies in the observance of standards relating to the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment. Port State control has been an important remedy to address the noticeable low performance of some flag States. Currently, the IMO Mandatory Member Audit Scheme has proven to be inclusive in helping to support the implementation of international standards across the maritime sector. 

At IMO, Mr Kenney is responsible for advising the IMO Secretary-General on all legal issues associated with the functioning of IMO, with special emphasis on matters of treaty law and the law of the sea; provides legal counsel to staff supporting IMO’s committees and subcommittees and has particular responsibility as Secretary for the Organization’s Legal Committee. He oversees IMO’s role as depositary for the 53 multilateral Conventions adopted under its aegis. Before joining IMO, Mr Kenney served in high-ranking positions in the United States Coast Guard.

The special lectures by Mr. Kenney  were among the first in the Malmö MSc in Maritime Affairs second term in which students focus on one of seven specializations: Maritime Education & Training; Maritime Energy Management; Maritime Law & Policy; Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration; Ocean Sustainability, Governance & Management; Port Management, and Shipping Management & Logistics. Foundation studies are taught in the first term of the 14-month programme and cover the introductory knowledge that is fundamental to all activities in the maritime field. Three successive terms focus on specialization studies and a dissertation. WMU has more than 150 Visiting Lecturers from around the world who contribute their expertise to enrich the education of WMU students.

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