The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is a UN agency, based in the UK, which is responsible for regulating shipping. It describes itself as the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.
Key facts about the International Maritime Organisation
- The IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
- The IMO is a UN agency formed in 1948, which came into operation a decade later.
- Most member states that do not have IMO membership are landlocked countries that have no interest or involvement in shipping.
- The three Association Members of the IMO are the Faroe Islands, Hong Kong and Macao.
- The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is one of the IMOs best known legal instruments.
- International shipping transports more than 80% of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world.
- The IMO remit covers all aspects of international shipping, including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal.
- Non-governmental international organisations that have the capability to make a substantial contribution to the work of IMO may be granted consultative status by the Council with the approval of the Assembly.
The IMO is a global agency that comes under the remit of the UN. It is made up of the Assembly, a Council and five main Committees:
- The Maritime Safety Committee
- The Marine Environment Protection Committee
- The Legal Committee
- The Technical Co-operation Committee
- The Facilitation Committee
The IMO has been responsible for numerous legal instruments that have the purpose of making improvements in safety at sea, improving trade among seafaring states and protecting the maritime environment.
As well as looking at the shipping sector as it currently is, the IMO is also involved in securing its future as safe, environmentally sound and energy efficient.
There is very little that the IMO does not cover, including the human element of the shipping industry, maritime security and technical cooperation, which is designed to help Governments that lack the technical knowledge and resources that are needed to operate a shipping industry successfully.
Criteria for membership
Membership is on the basis of states. To become a member of the IMO, a state ratifies a multilateral treaty known as the Convention on the International Maritime Organisation.
Opinions about the IMO:
The IMO is a globally renowned organisation with recognised status. It is very visible and is a powerful force within the shipping industry. Online, information about the IMO focuses on its role in fostering inter governmental cooperation, as well as convening international conferences on shipping matters and drafting international conventions or agreements on this subject.
Its role in safety is also emphasised in those places where it is mentioned. As membership of the IMO is by state, it is not mentioned on the websites of individual businesses but it does appear frequently in online encyclopedias and websites that describe UN structure.
For more on shipping see: 2018 International Container Shipping Rates & Costs and Freight Forwarder & NVOCC International Cost & Companies Guide