Candidates for Secretary-General of IMO

Caralb News   •   April 06, 2023

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is at a crucial moment in its history, with the possibility of a woman being elected as Secretary-General for the first time in the organization’s 64-year history, following nine men who have held the position.

Seven member states have nominated candidates for the position of Secretary-General. Among the nominees are three women: Nancy Karigithu from Kenya, Minna Kivimäki from Finland, and Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry from Dominica. This reflects a significant shift in how the IMO is addressing gender equality in the maritime sector.

The IMO aims to promote gender equality in the maritime transportation industry and within its own structures. In 2018, the organization launched the IMO Strategy on Gender Equality, which sets specific targets for increasing women’s participation and training in the maritime sector.

The election of the next Secretary-General is an important step in implementing this strategy, and the IMO is making significant progress towards a more inclusive and diverse maritime industry. The new Secretary-General will replace Mr. Kitack Lim of the Republic of Korea, starting from January 1, 2024.

Kitack Lim

Mr. Kitack Lim


Kitack Lim

Kitack Lim was elected Secretary-General of the Organization by the 114th session of the IMO Council in June 2015 for a four-year period beginning 1 January 2016. The election was endorsed by the IMO’s Assembly at its 29th session in November 2015.

At its 31st session (November-December 2019), the Assembly approved the renewal of Mr. Kitack Lim’s appointment as Secretary-General of IMO, for a second and final term of four years (1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023).

Mr. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) is the eighth elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.

Mr. Moin Uddin Ahmed (Bangladesh)

Elected · Mr. Moin Uddin Ahmed (Bangladesh)


Captain Moinuddin Ahmed

Captain Moinuddin Ahmed has been re-elected as the Director-General of International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO) in their 25th assembly session. He was first elected as the Director General in November of 2014 and commenced his position in April 2015.

Moin joined Bangladesh Navy in 1976. He obtained a Certificate of Competency as a Master Mariner from South Shields Marine and Technical College in 1985 and Master of Science from World Marine University in 1989. He was a Senior Technical Officer in IMO Maritime Safety Division, before his nomination as the Director general of IMSO in 2014.

Mr. Suat Hayri Aka (Türkiye)

Elected · Mr. Suat Hayri Aka (Türkiye)


Mr Suat Hayri Aka

Suat Hayri Aka has had an extensive career in the maritime industry. He completed his undergraduate studies at Istanbul Technical University and obtained a master’s degree in Maritime and Port Management from the World Maritime University in Sweden. Aka started his career as a captain for DB Deniz Nakliyatı TAŞ before transitioning to management roles in various private maritime companies. He also taught at Istanbul Technical University for 12 years as an instructor for Ship Management and Maritime Economics courses. Aka then served as the Deputy Undersecretary and later the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communications of the Republic of Turkey. In recognition of his contributions to the industry, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Istanbul’s Piri Reis University.

Suat Hayri Aka was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden.

Mr. Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco (Panama)

Elected · Mr. Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco (Panama)


Mr Arsenio Domínguez

Mr. Dominguez currently serves as Director, Marine Environment Division of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), having served previously as Director, Administrative Division and Chief of Staff. Before joining IMO in July 2017, Mr. Dominguez worked for the Panama Maritime Authority starting in 1998 as Head of the Regional Technical and Documentation Office for Europe and North Africa, and as Alternate Representative and Technical Adviser of Panama to IMO from 2004 to 2014.  In July 2014 he was appointed Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Panama to IMO.

Mr. Dominguez holds a Naval Architect degree from Veracruzana University, Mexico; an MBA in Management from the University of Hull, and a Certificate of Higher Education in International Law and European Politics from Birkbeck University, both in London, England.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Dominica)

Elected · Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Dominica)


Dr Cleopatra Doumbia Henry

Dr. Doumbia-Henry was heavily involved in the development of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Since the late 1990s, she has been leading the ILO participation in a number of IMO/ILO interagency collaborations on several issues of common interest to IMO and ILO, including the Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Groups on Fair Treatment of Seafarers and on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers.

Mrs. Nancy Karigithu (Kenya)

Elected · Mrs. Nancy Karigithu (Kenya)


Mrs. Nancy W. Karigithu

Mrs. Karigithu is currently the Principal Secretary, State Department for Shipping and Maritime in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works. Before her present appointment, Mrs. Karigithu was working as a short term legal expert for the European Union (EU) project Critical Maritime Routes, aimed at enhancing Maritime situational awareness in the Indian Ocean.

Recently, Mrs. Karigithu was feted and honored for honorary fellowship by the World Maritime University during the Graduation Ceremony which was held in 3rd November, 2019 in Malmo, Sweden because of her distinguished service in the maritime sector.

Ms. Minna Kivimäki (Finland)

Elected · Ms. Minna Kivimäki (Finland)


Ms. Minna Kivimäki

Permanent Secretary Minna Kivimäki has been nominated a candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). There are altogether seven candidates for the post.

The term of the current Secretary-General, Kitack Lim from the Republic of Korea, expires on 31 December 2023.  The IMO Council will elect the new Secretary-General on 18 July 2023 and the appointment will be approved by the IMO Assembly at the end of 2023. The elected Secretary-General will take office on 1 January 2024.

IMO Elected · Mr. Zhang Xiaojie (China)

Elected · Mr. Zhang Xiaojie (China)


Mr. Zhang Xiaojie

World Maritime University (WMU) Alumnus, Mr. Zhang Xiaojie from the People’s Republic of China, has been appointed Director of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Technical Cooperation Division (TCD).

At the 2020 WMU Graduation Ceremony, Mr. Zhang received an Outstanding Alumnus award in recognition of his long and distinguished service to the international maritime community. He has served as a member of the WMU Board of Governors and Executive Board since February 2018, and will continue to serve on those governing bodies as an ex-officio member within his new role as IMO’s Director of TCD.