International Maritime Organisation (IMO) (was formerly known as the Inter-governmental Maintenance Consultative) is a specialised agency of the United Nation by convention drafted in 1948 at a UN Maritime Conference in Geneva.
The purposes of the Organization, are "to provide machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships". The Organization is also empowered to deal with administrative and legal matters related to these purposes.
Organisational Structure of IMO
The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: the Maritime Safety Committee; the Marine Environment Protection Committee; the Legal Committee; the Technical Cooperation Committee and the Facilitation Committee and a number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees.
Assembly: This is the highest Governing Body of the Organization. It consists of all Member States and it meets once every two years in regular sessions, but may also meet in an extraordinary session if necessary. The Assembly is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. The Assembly also elects the Council.
Council: It is the Executive Organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization. Between sessions of the Assembly the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except the function of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.
Maritime Safety Committee (MSC): It is the highest technical body of the Organization. It consists of all Member States. The functions of the Maritime Safety Committee are to “consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with aids to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, maritime safety procedures and requirements, hydro-graphic information, log-books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime safety”.
The Committee is also required to provide machinery for performing any duties assigned to it by the IMO Convention or any duty within its cope of work which may be assigned to it by or under any international instrument and accepted by the Organization. It also has the responsibility for considering and submitting recommendations and guidelines on safety for possible adoption by the Assembly.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC): It consists of all Member States, is empowered to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with prevention and control of pollution from ships. In particular it is concerned with the adoption and amendment of conventions and other regulations and measures to ensure their enforcement.
The MEPC was first established as a subsidiary body of the Assembly and raised to full constitutional status in 1985.
Legal Committee: It is empowered to deal with any legal matters within the scope of the Organization. The Committee consists of all Member States of IMO. It was established in 1967 as a subsidiary body to deal with legal questions which arose in the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster. It is also empowered to perform any duties within its scope which may be assigned by or under any other international instrument and accepted by the Organization.
Technical Cooperation Committee: It is required to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the implementation of technical cooperation projects for which the Organization acts as the executing or cooperating agency and any other matters related to the Organization’s activities in the technical cooperation field. It consists of all Member States of IMO, was established in 1969 as a subsidiary body of the Council, and was institutionalized by means of an amendment to the IMO Convention which entered into force in 1984.
Facilitation Committee: It was established as a subsidiary body of the Council in May 1972, and became fully institutionalised in December 2008 as a result of an amendment to the IMO Convention. It consists of all the Member States of the Organization and deals with IMO’s work in eliminating unnecessary formalities and “red tape” in international shipping by implementing all aspects of the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic 1965 and any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the facilitation of international maritime traffic. In particular in recent years the Committee's work, in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly, has been to ensure that the right balance is struck between maritime security and the facilitation of international maritime trade.
Secretariat: It consists of the Secretary-General and some 300 international personnel based at the headquarters of the Organization in London.