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International Maritime Organization (IMO)



The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was established on 17 March 1948 and convened for the first time in January 1959.  The IMO is a specialized UN agency, whose main tasks are the safety and security of international shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. It also deals with the facilitation of international maritime traffic, as well as with legal matters arising from international shipping, such as matters of liability and compensation from maritime claims. The IMO slogan sums up its objectives: “Secure, safe and efficient shipping on clean oceans”.  
Recognizing the role of the IMO in regulating all issues related to international shipping, Greece actively participates in the formulation of maritime legislation with a constant presence in the work of the committees - subcommittees of the Organization, submitting proposals which regulate the shipping activity in a realistic way. The purpose of the proposed regulations is the universalisation for all ships, regardless of flag (flag neutral) and the guaranteeing of a level playing field. Further information is available on the website of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy ( and the Hellenic Coast Guard (


The IMO has 174 Member States and 3 Associate Members. 63 Intergovernmental Organizations have signed cooperation agreements with the IMO and 80 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have consultative status.


The Organization consists of the Assembly, the Council and five main committees: the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), the Legal Committee (LEG), the Technical Cooperation Committee (TC) and the Facilitation Committee (FAL). There is also a significant number of subcommittees, which support the work of the main technical committees.

This is the highest Governing Body of the Organization. It meets once every two years in regular sessions, but may also meet in an extraordinary session if necessary. The Assembly is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. The Assembly also elects the Council.

The Council is elected by the Assembly for a two-year term. It is the Executive Organ of the IMO and is responsible for supervising the work of the Organization. Between sessions of the Assembly, the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that one of making recommendations to State-Members on maritime safety and pollution prevention.
Furthermore, the Council is responsible to: a) coordinate the activities of the organs of the Organization, b) consider the draft work programme and budget estimates of the Organization and submit them to the Assembly, c) receive reports and proposals of the committees and other organs and submit them to the Assembly with comments and recommendations as appropriate, d) appoint the Secretary-General, subject to the approval of the Assembly and e) enter into agreements or arrangements concerning the relationship of the Organization with other organizations, subject to the approval by the Assembly.

Council members for the 2020-2021 biennium
Category A. 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services: China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States. Greece, as one of the founding members of the IMO, is elected, with the exception of 1977, continuously in Category "A", due to the size of its merchant fleet.

Category B.
10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

Category C.
20 States which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council ensures the representation of all major geographic areas of the world: Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)
The MSC is the highest technical body of the Organization. Its functions are to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization directly affecting maritime safety, such as aids to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, hydrographic information, log-books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue of cargoes and people etc.

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)

The MEPC is empowered to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with prevention and control of pollution from ships. In particular, it is concerned with the adoption and amendment of conventions and other regulations and measures to ensure their enforcement.

Legal Committee (LEG)
The LEG is empowered to deal with any legal matters within the scope of the Organization.

Technical Cooperation Committee (TC)
The TC is required to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the implementation of technical cooperation projects for which the Organization acts as the executing or cooperating agency.

Facilitation Committee (FAL)
The FAL is required to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the facilitation of international maritime traffic, that is the elimination of unnecessary formalities and "red tape" in international shipping.


The Secretariat of the IMO consists of the Secretary General and some 300 people of international personnel based at the headquarters of the Organization in London. The Secretary General is Mr. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) who was appointed to the position with effect from 1 January 2016, for an initial four-year term. At its 31st session (November-December 2019), the Assembly approved the renewal of Mr. Kitack Lim's appointment as Secretary General of the IMO, for a second and final term of four years (1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023).

-International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended.
-International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto and by the Protocol of 1997 (MARPOL)
-International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers ( STCW) as amended, including the 1995 and 2010 Manila Amendments.

Last Updated Thursday, 24 December 2020