The 1st session of the IHO Assembly was held in Monaco from 24 to 28 April 2017. It was attended by 240 delegates representing 77 member states out of 86 IHO full members. About 70 more representatives of other international organizations and bodies participated as observers. The Republic of Croatia participated in the session as full member, represented by the delegates from its Hydrographic Institute: Dr. Nenad Leder, Director and Head of delegation, and Capt. Željko Bradarić, Assistant director for International Cooperation.
The International Hydrographic Organization is an intergovernmental technical and consultative organization which contributes through its activities to coordinated action of national hydrographic offices with principal aim to ensure safe navigation of ships.
Under the Protocol of Amendments to the IHO Convention that entered into force in November 2016, the IHO has undergone significant structural changes. Instead of the IHO Conference, the supreme body is now the Assembly which consists of representatives of all member states. Assembly sessions will be held every three years, instead of every five years. Besides the Assembly, the Council is established as a subsidiary body, and instead of the IHO Bureau, the IHO Secretariat is introduced, headed by General Secretary, two directors, and several assistant directors as well as other staff (currently 20 in total) with the task to manage the IHO Secretariat, implement work programmes adopted at the IHO Assembly, and carry out other administrative and technical tasks (production and distribution of IHO documents and circular letters, about a hundred per year on average).
The 1st session of the IHO Assembly, according to a predetermined programme and agenda, examined reports on the realization of work programmes (2012-2016), financial reports, 13 official assembly proposals, and adopted the new three-year work programme and financial plan. One of the most important agenda items was the proposal for revision and adoption of amendments to the existing IHO Strategic Plan. Recognizing the importance of this issue for the work of the IHO, Croatia besides providing general support in preparatory documents for the session (“Red Book” Proposals), has made a more specific contribution through presentation of an additional extensive comment during the Assembly session. The comment by Croatia has contributed towards adoption of the Assembly decision entrusting the IHO Council with the task of setting up a working group that will completely revise the IHO Strategic Plan to be included in the agenda of the 2nd session of the IHO Assembly (2020). Discussion on all agenda items ended with conclusions and decisions. A total of 24 official Assembly decisions were adopted.
An exhibition on the most recent achievements in the field of hydrography was organized for the duration of Assembly sessions. Besides participating actively in the Assembly sessions, the delegation of Croatia organized and participated in several aside meetings discussing different organizational-technical and administrative-financial issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. According to usual practice, receptions were held by several countries on their hydrographic vessels, and a reception was also hosted by the Principality of Monaco. On these occasions talks were held at a less formal level, as well as exchange of experiences with the representatives of member states and a number of intergovernmental and other organizations attending sessions of the IHO Assembly as observers.
On the last day of the session, according to a prescribed procedure, the new leadership of the IHO (General Secretary and two directors) for the next three-year period was elected by secret ballot. Dr. Mathias Jonas (Germany) was elected General Secretary while Mr. Abraham Kampfer (Republic of South Africa) and Mr. Mustafa Iptes (Turkey) were elected as directors. The 2nd ordinary session is scheduled for April 2020.