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The International Maritime Organization

IMO  – the International Maritime Organization  – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. THe IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.

Order from chaos

Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented. 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. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.
Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. IMO is the forum at which this process takes place. International shipping transports about 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world.

Why do we need the IMO?

The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry and this is provided by the regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO. IMO measures cover all aspects of international shipping including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal to ensure that this vital sector for remains safe, environmentally sound, energy-efficient and secure.

No more pirates on the high seas

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.
This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency. Shipping is an essential component of any program for future sustainable economic growth. Through IMO, the Organisation’s Member States, civil society and the shipping industry are already working together to ensure a continued and strengthened contribution towards a green economy and growth in a sustainable manner. The promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development is one of the major priorities of IMO in the coming years.

 The IMO’s manifesto

Energy efficiency, new technology and innovation, maritime education and training, maritime security, maritime traffic management and the development of the maritime infrastructure: the development and implementation, through framework necessary for a green and sustainable global maritime transportation system.” IMO, of global standards covering these and other issues will underpin IMO’s commitment to providing the institutional framework necessary for a green and sustainable global maritime transportation system

A bit of history

No pirates allowed without written authorization from a responsible adult

The International Maritime Organisation was established by convention in 1948 at the United Nations Maritime Conference in Geneva. The  Convention on the Inter-Governmental MaritimeConsultative Organisation (IMCO), was thereafter inaugurated in January 1959.

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The convention states, as defined in Article 1(a) that the purpose of the IMO is  “to provide machinery for co-operation among governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning the maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from
ships”.

The IMO also adopted the role and authority to facilitate the administrative and legal matters arising from the convention.

The structure of the IMO

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The IMO consists of an Assembly, a Council and four main committees. In addition, there is a facilitation committee plus several sub-committees of the principle technical committees.
The Assembly is the most authoritative corpus in the organization, comprising the entirety of member states. It convenes once every two years, with the scope of instigating a work program and approving the budget.

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Members are elected to be represented on the Council, which is composed of 32 member states elected by the Assembly for a two-year term. The Council is made up of 8
states with the largest interest in providing international shipping services, 8 states with the largest interest in international seaborne trade and 16 others. The Council’s role is to perform an executive function with delegated powers from the AssemblyThe functions of the Council summarised are:
1. Facilitating the IMO’s activities.
2. Reviewing the proposed work program and budget estimates prior to submission to the Assembly.
3. Collating reports and proposals from the various committees for deliberation by the Assembly.
4. Appointing the Secretary-General.
5. Liaising with other organizations which impact or are impacted by the IMO’s activities.
The four main committees are:
1. Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).
2. Legal Committee.
3. Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC).
4. Technical Co-operation Committee.

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