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International Maritime Organization (IMO)



The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized UN agency whose main tasks are the improvement of safety and security in international shipping and the prevention of ship generated pollution. It also deals with the facilitation of international maritime traffic and legal matters such as liability and compensation. It was established on 17 March 1948 and convened for the first time in January 1959.  The IMO slogan sums up its objectives: “Safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans”.


Currently, IMO has 173 Member States and 3 Associate Members. 64 Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) have signed cooperation agreements and 79 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have consultative status with the IMO.


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


It is the highest Governing Body of the Organization and meets once every two years in regular sessions. The Assembly is responsible for approving the work program, the budget and the election of the Council.


Elected by the Assembly for two-year terms, it is the Executive Organ of IMO. The Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.

Council members for 2018-2019

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.

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

Category C. 20 States having 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, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)

It is the highest technical body of the Organization with the mission to “consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with aids to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, maritime safety procedures and requirements, hydrographic information, log-books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime safety”.

Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC)

It is empowered to consider matters of prevention and control of ship generated pollution.

Legal Committee

It deals with legal matters.

Technical Cooperation Committee

It deals with, the implementation of technical cooperation projects for which the Organization acts as the executing body or cooperating partner and related technical matters.

Facilitation Committee

It deals with the elimination of unnecessary formalities and “red tape” in international shipping and supports the facilitation of international maritime traffic.


It is located at the headquarters of the Organization in London and consists of the Secretary-General and some 300 international personnel. Current Secretary-General is Mr. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) who was appointed on 1st January 2016 for a four-year term.


1. International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS).

2. International Convention for the Prevention of ship generated  pollution 1973 (MARPOL).

3. International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Last Updated Thursday, 08 February 2018