From time to time I participate in a technical committee at the International Maritime Organization with headquarters in London. This is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Most of the coastal states are represented during these meetings. Statements are considered and prepared well in advance. And when the floor is given to a country or organization often these are read from a paper. The main goal is improving the safety of shipping but country politics do play a role.

You can imagine that the atmosphere at IMO is very formal. I do enjoy this playfield, meeting with the delegates of countries that are important for my work. Luckily some things just stay very informal. When I go to the first floor to say hello to the ladies of the Secretariat, they shout out loud when admiring my shoes. Last time the whole floor was in huge excitement and we had lots of fun.

Everybody seriously at work in IMO


IMO headquarters is at Albert Embankment and very near to it is the Chino Latino Bar and Restaurant. They have the best sushi I ever had except from Japan. I went for lunch and the same day for dinner as well. To be honest, I went several days in the same week.

My first visit to IMO I will never forget. It was the week that a new Secretary-General was to be elected and everybody was occupied with this. At a certain moment, a non-European speaker took the floor and started to speech very extensively about these elections. Only he did not say elections but pronounced it as the Secretary-General’s erections. This was hilarious but everybody was aware that we all should stay serious. People started to send text messages to each other making very stupid jokes. It was great fun.

Or not…


Arriving the next week at my office I shared this story with my colleagues. One of them asked: “Truly Gerardine, did this happen?”. “The erections? Yes, it really happened, I know because I was there”. And all the heads turned to my direction, lifting up their eyebrows. LOL!

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