IMO is a technical organization and most of its work is carried out in a number of committees and subcommittees.
The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) is the most senior of these. The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) was established by the Assembly in November 1973. It is responsible for co-ordinating the Organization’s activities in the prevention and control of pollution of the marine environment from ships.From the very beginning, the improvement of maritime safety and the prevention of marine pollution have been IMO’s most important objectives.
A conference held by the United Nations in 1948 adopted a convention establishing the International Maritime Organization(IMO) as the first ever international body devoted exclusively to maritime matters.The Organization is the only United Nations specialized agency to have its headquarters in the United Kingdom. It currently (October 2015) consists of 171 Member States and three Associate Members. Its governing body, the Assembly, meets once every two years. Between sessions, the Council, consisting of 32 Member Governments elected by the Assembly, acts as IMO’s governing body.
The original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO. There are a number of sub-committees whose titles indicate the subjects they deal with:
- Safety of Navigation (NAV);
- Radio communications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR); Training and Watch keeping (STW);
- Carriage of Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers(DSC);
- Ship Design and Equipment (DE);
- Fire Protection (FP);
- Stability and Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety (SLF);
- Flag State Implementation (FSI);
- Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG).
All the committees of IMO are open to participation by all Member Governments on an equal basis.