Belgium loses Council seat in International Maritime Organisation
Belgium has not been re-elected to the new Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the specialised body of the United Nations, the Directorate-General (DG) for Shipping confirmed on Monday.
Last Friday, the IMO's 175 members voted on the 40 countries that will sit on the Council for the next two years. Belgium has been on the council since 2009 and has been re-elected eight times in a row, but did not have enough support to be re-elected a ninth time.
The impact of the decision will mainly be on Belgium's image as a maritime country, says Peter Claeyssens, director general of DG Shipping. "We are an important maritime nation, but we have not been able to turn the tide," he said in a reaction to the vote.
The Council is the executive organ of the IMO, where the internal workings of the organisation and its strategic direction are decided. Belgium can still attend its meetings, but no longer has the right to vote.
There are several reasons for Belgium's lack of support in the IMO, one of which is the over-representation of European member states in the IMO council. And despite the country pledging €200,000 to give small island states in the Pacific a greater say in the organisation, Belgium did not have their support, Claeyssens added.
According to Claeyssens, Europe's negative attitude towards Russia - a maritime superpower - also had an impact on the outcome of the vote. "Europe's reactions (like Russian sanctions, ed.) are not always appreciated in the rest of the world," the director general said.
© BELGA PHOTO YORICK JANSENS