Arsenio Dominguez Velasco confirmed as next IMO Secretary-General

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly approves decision of Council to appoint Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco as secretary-general with effect from 1 January 2024.

The IMO Assembly unanimously approved 30 November the decision of the Council at its 129th session (C129) to appoint him to the role.

Velasco will take up the office of secretary-general on 1 January 2024 for an initial term of four years, ending on 31 December 2027. He becomes the organization’s 10th elected secretary-general.

The outgoing secretary-general, Kitack Lim, pledged to work with Velasco to ensure an orderly and successful hand-over and, in what he called a “symbolic act of transition and succession”, he handed a comprehensive briefing paper to Velasco to assist him in his preparation for the role of secretary-general.  

Addressing the Assembly, Velasco said: “You have my full commitment to build on the great work that has been done by my predecessors, taking what is already a significant and influential organization, to be an institution that will thrive in delivering its full agenda, from safety to decarbonization, from digitalization to the human element; an International Maritime Organization that not only looks towards the future, but does more in embracing change, diversity, inclusion and transparency; one that is dedicated to its people, from all the very professional staff that form the IMO Secretariat, to our seafarers worldwide and perhaps most importantly, a dedication to the younger generations, the ones we are obliged to hand over to, to hand over a planet that is a better place to live in.”

He concluded: “I want to reiterate how much I’m looking forward to leading IMO, to continue working with all of you, an extraordinary group of people who have demonstrated time and time again that we can deliver, by listening and understanding each other, sharing our aims and concerns. I’m very lucky to start with an already great team of professionals in the Secretariat who also want what is best for the Member States and all our stakeholders.”

Velasco is currently director of IMO’s Marine Environment Division, a post he has held since January 2022. He joined the IMO Secretariat in 2017 as chief of staff to the secretary-general, Kitack Lim. In 2020 he was appointed as director of the Organization’s Administrative Division.

His maritime career began in 1996 as a port engineer at Armadores del Caribe in Panama, then becoming a drydock assistant manager at Braswell Shipyard.  

In 1998, Velasco moved to London to join the Panama Maritime Authority as head of the Technical and Documentation Regional Office for Europe and North of Africa. He went on to represent Panama in a variety of roles at the organization, culminating in his appointment as Panama’s ambassador and permanent representative to IMO between 2014 and 2017.

During this time, Velasco chaired IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and in 2015 he chaired the Technical Committee of the 25th session of the IMO Assembly. He has also chaired the Maritime Security – Piracy and Armed Robbery Working Group under the auspices of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee. 

Velasco was born in the Republic of Panama. He graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Fermin Naudeu Institute in Panama before going on to study Naval Architecture at the University of Veracruz, Mexico, from where he graduated in 1995. Velasco also holds an MBA from the University of Hull, and a Certificate of Higher Education in International Law and European Politics from Birkbeck University, both in the United Kingdom.  

Photo credit: IMO. Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco, IMO secretary-general with effect from 1 January 2024.

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