Kitack Lim Sees IMO Strengthening Partnerships, by Marex


By MarEx

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, who took up the position on January 1, 2016, has set out his priorities for the coming years, including effective implementation of international treaties and building capacity in developing countries.   

In a message posted on the IMO website, he pledged strengthened partnerships between developing and developed countries, between governments and industry and between IMO member states and regions.

Message from Kitack Lim:

It is a great honour to have been elected as Secretary-General of this prestigious and important organization, and as I begin my term I very much look forward to the challenges ahead.

I join an august group of people who have been chosen to lead this organization and I would like to pay tribute to them all – in particular my immediate predecessor, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, whose enthusiasm and devotion to meeting the organization’s goals has brought such positive and beneficial results.

IMO currently faces an array of issues. With the collective wisdom and insight of IMO member states and other stakeholders, I am confident we can meet these challenges and continue to forge a future where shipping meets the needs of the world in a safe, secure and sustainable way, building on the substantial efforts and achievements of the IMO to date.

My vision is one of strengthened partnerships – between developing and developed countries, between governments and industry, between IMO member states and regions. I will also endeavour to strengthen communication between the maritime industry and the general public, I see IMO acting as a bridge between all these stakeholders in what I have referred to as “a voyage together.”

For my part, I plan to concentrate on several overarching objectives:

Effective implementation of international conventions and regulations   
As the servant of the member states and on behalf of the secretariat, I will work proactively to ensure that, through consensus and cooperation among its member states, IMO continues to develop and deliver on its mission.


Lim was born in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do, one of the major port cities in the Republic of Korea. He majored in nautical science at the Korea Maritime and Ocean University (KMOU), Busan, graduating in 1977. He worked on ships as a Korean naval officer and for Sanko Shipping Co. He joined the Korea Maritime and Port Administration in 1985, while continuing with further studies at the Graduate School of Administration, Yonsei University, obtaining a Master’s Degree in 1990. He then studied maritime administration with a major in navigation at the World Maritime University (WMU), graduating with a master’s degree. From 1995 he attended a doctoral programme for international law at KMOU, completing course work in 1998. 

Lim began attending IMO meetings as part of the Republic of Korea’s delegation in 1986, actively participating in maritime safety and environmental protection issues. From 1992, he engaged in activities to promote maritime safety through effective implementation of IMO conventions in his country and other IMO Member States in the Asian region. He was elected Chairman of the Tokyo Memorandum on Port State Control in 2004. 

In 2006, Lim was appointed as Maritime Attaché, minister-counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in London and led all IMO work for the Republic of Korea, serving as Deputy Permanent Representative to IMO up to August 2009.

Lim was then appointed as Director General for Maritime Safety Policy Bureau at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM). He led the delegation of the Republic of Korea to the IMO Assembly in 2009. 

In March 2011, Lim was appointed Commissioner of the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST). In July 2012, he assumed the position of President of Busan Port Authority.