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The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations with 169 Member States and three Associate Members. According to the IMO, signatories are responsible for over 97% of all ocean traffic. The IMO's main task has been to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. Its mandate also includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
The Organization came into force on March 17, 1958 when the Convention on the International Maritime Organization took effect. Convention on the International Maritime Organization, Mar. 8, 1948, 78 U.N.T.S. 277. Until 1982, the IMO was known as International Maritime Consultative Organization or IMCO. It is “the United Nation’s specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.”
Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations with 168 Member States and three Associate Members. The IMO's primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its mandate also includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. IMO is governed by an Assembly of members and 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. Member organizations of the UN organizational family may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.
The IMO website is a comprehensive resource on developing international legal instruments dealing with maritime regulations. Not only does it provide the history and information about the IMO, but also informs about all of its conventions, news, studies and reports, and resources such as its library and archives. It guides users from the workings of the organization itself to the status of developed and developing treaties.
UNEP is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.
The IMO has led the way on regulations covering liability and compensation. The Organization formed an ad hoc Legal Committee in response to legal claims following the 1967 Torrey Canyon disaster, and further cemented that role following the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Click here for the Legal Committee's Session Reports
Click here to read more about the legal relationship between the IMO and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Click here for information on the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme.