Wednesday, August 3, 2011
International Maritime Organization (IMO) was adopted in Geneva in 1948 and IMO first met in 1959. IMO's main task has been to develop and maintain acomprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
A specialized agency of the United Nations with 169 Member States and three Associate Members, IMO is based in the United Kingdom with around 300 international staff.
IMO's specialized committees and sub-committees are the focus for the technical work to update
existing legislation or develop and adopt new regulations, with meetings attended by maritime
experts from Member Governments, together with those from interested intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
The result is a comprehensive body of international conventions, supported by hundreds of
recommendations governing every facet of shipping. There are, firstly, measures aimed at the
prevention of accidents, including standards for ship design, construction, equipment, operation
and manning - key treaties include SOLAS, the MARPOL convention for the prevention of pollution by ships and the STCW convention on standards of training for seafarers.
Then there are measures which recognize that accidents do happen, including rules concerning
distress and safety communications, the International Convention on Search and Rescue and the
International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation.
Thirdly, there are conventions which establish compensation and liability regimes - including the
International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, the convention establishing
the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage and the Athens Convention
covering liability and compensation for passengers at sea.
Inspection and monitoring of compliance are the responsibility of member States, but the
adoption of a Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme is expected to play a key role in
enhancing implementation of IMO standards.
IMO has an extensive technical co-operation programme, which identifies needs among resourceshy Members and matches them to assistance, such as training. IMO has founded three advanced level maritime educational institutes in Malmö, Malta and Trieste.
Today, we live in a society which is supported by a global economy, which simply could not
function if it were not for shipping. IMO plays a key role in ensuring that lives at sea are not put
at risk and that the marine environment is not polluted by shipping - as summed up in IMO's
mission statement: Safe, Secure and Efficient Shipping on Clean Oceans.