For it was becoming generally accepted that a situation in which each shipping nation had its own maritime laws was counter-productive in ensuring safety in shipping operations worldwide. Conscientious safety-minded shipowners were at an economic disadvantage vis-à-vis their competitors who spent relatively little money on safety, and this was a threat to any serious attempt to improve safety at sea and to international seaborne trade as a whole. A book detailing the history of the IMO has been published to mark 75 years since the adoption of the IMO Convention, creating for the first time a global body to promote the safety and security of shipping and the protection of the marine environment. A book detailing the history of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been published to mark 75 years since the adoption of the IMO Convention, creating for the first time a global body to promote the safety and security of shipping and the protection of the marine environment. The development and enforcement of maritime safety standards have significantly contributed to reducing the number of accidents and casualties at sea. The IMO remains committed to updating these standards to keep pace with technological advancements and emerging risks.

  1. Through its work on maritime security, the IMO has played a vital role in safeguarding international trade routes and maintaining global stability.
  2. As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.
  3. IMO was also given the task of establishing a system for providing compensation to those who had suffered financially as a result of pollution.
  4. The Organization’s standards are now firmly embedded in shipping’s consciousness and practice and they shape the industry of today.

In 1966, an IMO conference adopted the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), which sets limitations on the draught to which a ship may be loaded, an important consideration in its safety. The convention was updated by the LL Protocol of 1988, which entered into force in February 2000. The 1969 International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships is designed to establish a uniform system for tonnage measurement.

The council acts as an executive body and performs all the responsibilities of the Assembly when it is not in session. The Council is also responsible for appointing the secretary-general of the organization. The  IMO Convention entered into force in 1958 and the new Organization met for the first time the following year. In 1988, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which issued a first assessment report in 1990 which reflected the views of 400 scientists. The report stated that global warming was real and urged that something be done about it. It fell to scientists to draw international attention to the threats posed by global warming.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Over the years, the IMO has evolved and expanded its focus to address various emerging challenges in the maritime industry. The organization has continually adapted to advancements in technology, changing environmental concerns, and the shifting landscape of international trade. In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance.

One significant milestone in the history of the IMO was the adoption of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in 1960. SOLAS sets out minimum safety standards for ships, covering various aspects such as construction, equipment, and safety procedures. This convention has been regularly updated to keep pace with evolving technology and industry practices. Recognizing the environmental impact of the shipping industry, the IMO has taken significant steps to promote sustainable practices. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, adopted in 2004, aims to prevent the spread of invasive species through ballast water discharge. Additionally, the IMO’s push for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has led to the adoption of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships in 2018, setting ambitious targets for the industry.

Funded by UNDP and by Sweden and other countries, the university offers two-year courses in maritime education and training, maritime safety administration, general maritime administration, and technical management of shipping companies, as well as field and other training. It is designed to help meet the urgent need of developing countries for high-level maritime personnel and to contribute to maintaining international standards for maritime safety and preventing pollution of the seas by ships. The university serves as the apex of an international system of training in the maritime field, collaborating with regional, subregional, and national maritime training institutions throughout the world. The IMO serves as a platform for global maritime governance, facilitating cooperation between member states, NGOs, and industry stakeholders. The organization’s committees, sub-committees, and working groups contribute to the development and implementation of international maritime regulations. Through partnerships and capacity-building initiatives, the IMO supports developing countries in implementing and complying with these regulations, ensuring a level playing field for all.

The organization also makes money from certain commercial activities, such as selling books or hosting conferences. The most important of all these measures was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78). It covers not only accidental and operational oil pollution but also pollution by chemicals, goods in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution.

How Many Countries Are in the International Maritime Organization (IMO)?

The purpose of the technical assistance program is to help states, many of them developing countries, to ratify IMO conventions and to reach the standards contained in the conventions and other instruments. The IMO’s general functions, as stipulated in its convention, are “consultative and advisory.” It thus serves as a forum where members can consult and exchange information on maritime matters. It discusses and makes recommendations on any maritime question submitted by member states or by other bodies of the UN and advises other international bodies, including the UN itself, on maritime matters. Various other intergovernmental agencies deal with specialized maritime matters, such as atomic propulsion for ships (IAEA), health at sea (WHO), maritime labor standards (ILO), meteorology (WMO), oceanography (UNESCO), and ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications (ITU).

It gives statutory support for such operational procedures as “load on top,” which greatly reduces the amount of mixtures to be disposed of after tank cleaning, and for segregated ballast tanks. MEPC 72 (April 2018) adopted resolution MEPC.304(72) on the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships [link to the Strategy]. This important agreement represents the framework for further action of the Committee, setting out the future vision for international shipping. The Initial Strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The amendments adopted by resolution MEPC.203(62) added a new chapter 4 entitled “Regulations on energy efficiency for ships” to MARPOL Annex VI. In December 2003, the IMO Assembly adopted resolution A.963(23) on IMO Policies and practices related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, which urged MEPC to identify and develop the mechanism(s) needed to achieve the limitation or reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping.

IMO’s Role in Maritime Trade

The secretariat consists of a Secretary-General, appointed by the Council with the approval of the Assembly, and an international staff of about 300. The Legal Committee, established in the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967 to deal with the legal problems arising from that incident, is responsible for any legal matter within the scope of the IMO. The Assembly determines the work program and imo history votes on the budget to which all members contribute. It meets once every two years in regular sessions, but may also meet in extraordinary session if necessary. When a government accepts an IMO convention, those policies become national laws that the government is responsible for enforcing. The focus on implementation continues, with the
technical co-operation programme a key strand of IMO’s work.

For example, in 1990 approximately us$ 5.6 million was received from UNDP; by 1997 this support had dwindled to us$ 3.93 million. In 2000, IMO’s funding partners for the TCP included international funding agencies, regional development banks, donor countries, recipient countries, the private sector (shipping and port industries), non-Governmental organizations involved in maritime and port activities, and individuals. While the adoption of conventions, codes, and recommendations has been the IMO’s most important function, in recent years the agency has devoted increasing attention to securing the effective implementation of these measures throughout the world. As a result, the IMO’s technical assistance activities have become more important, and in 1975 it established the Technical Cooperation Committee.

Two treaties were adopted, in 1969 and 1971, which enabled victims of oil pollution to obtain compensation much more simply and quickly than had been possible before. Both treaties were amended in 1992, and again in 2000, to increase the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution. A number of other legal conventions have been developed since, most of which concern liability and compensation issues. In September 1997, an International Conference of Parties to the MARPOL Convention, which adopted the Protocol of 1997 to amend the MARPOL Convention (MARPOL Annex VI), also adopted resolution 8 on CO2 emissions from ships.

Certain codes dealing with the transport of bulk chemicals and liquefied gas, have been made mandatory through amendments to the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea. The IMO developed a program to audit compliance with maritime policies, effective as of January 2016. However, there are no countermeasure available if a country does not enforce the policies set by the IMO. The governance structures of the IMO consist of the Assembly, representing the member states, and a Council elected by the members at two-year intervals.

The leaders of countries, whose students require other languages, then translate the questions into the required language. All papers, in all languages, are then inspected by all members of the International Jury, to ensure that all translations are appropriate. Mathematical competitions have played important roles in the tradition of many countries for centuries, surely dating as far back as the Greeks competing to solve geometry problems.

The Convention on Carriage of Passengers and Their Luggage, adopted in 1974, establishes a regime of liability for damage suffered by passengers carried on seagoing vessels. It declares the carrier liable for damage or loss suffered by passengers if the incident is due to the fault or neglect of the carrier. The limit of liability was originally set at us$ 55,000 per carriage, but on 1 November 2002, a new protocol was adopted by the IMO, which would substantially raise that liability limit, to approximately us$ 325,000. In association with the IAEA and the European Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD, the IMO convened a conference in 1971, which adopted the Convention on Civil Liability in the Field of Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Matter. The International Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organization, adopted in 1976, concerns the use of space satellites for improved communication, enabling distress messages to be conveyed much more effectively than by conventional radio.

The primary aim of the organization was to promote cooperation among nations and develop international regulations for maritime safety and navigation. The roots of the International Maritime Organization can be traced back to the early 20th century when concerns about maritime safety and the need for international cooperation became prominent. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and subsequent maritime disasters led to increased efforts to establish an international body that would regulate shipping and ensure the safety of seafarers. The IMO’s initiatives have not only improved safety and security but have also acted as catalysts for advancements in the maritime industry.