International Maritime Organization (IMO) | IAS Target IAS Target

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) until 1982, is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships and regulating shipping. The IMO was established following agreement at a UN conference held in Geneva in 1948 and the IMO came into existence ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.

Formation 17 March 1948
Headquartered London, United Kingdom
Membership 174 member states
Associate members 3
Parent organization United Nations Economic and Social Council

The IMO's primary purpose is:

to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit includes:
  • safety,
  • environmental concerns,
  • legal matters,
  • technical co-operation,
  • maritime security
  • the efficiency of shipping.


  • IMO is governed by an assembly of members
  • IMO is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
  • The work of IMO is conducted through five committees and these are supported by technical subcommittees. The five committees are:
    • the Maritime Safety Committee;
    • the Marine Environment Protection Committee;
    • the Legal Committee;
    • the Technical Co-operation Committee
    • the Facilitation Committee
  • The secretariat is composed of a Secretary-General who is periodically elected by the assembly, and various divisions such as those for marine safety, environmental protection and a conference section.