What is International Maritime Organisation (IMO)?

Written by Amit Sharma

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.

IMO’s  Mission  :

“The mission of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a United Nations specialized agency is to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation. This will be accomplished by adopting the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and security, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of pollution from ships, as well as through consideration of the related legal matters and effective implementation of IMO’s instruments with a view to their universal and uniform application.”

IMO has promoted the adoption of some 40 conventions and protocols and adopted well over 800 codes and recommendations concerning maritime safety, the prevention of pollution and related matters.The IMO Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, who is assisted by a staff of some 300 international civil servants. The Secretary-General is appointed by the Council, with the approval of the Assembly.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.