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International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO)

27-APR-2016 15:07

    The International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO) is the inter-governmental organization which was formed to oversight of certain public satellite safety and security communication services provided by mobile satellite communication systems.

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    The Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organization was adopted by IMO in 1976 to establish and oversee satellite communications for shipping.

    Under the treaty, the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) has been established as the inter-governmental body that oversees the provision of certain satellite-based maritime distress communication services, specifically those used in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

    IMO appointed it as LRIT Coordinator (International system for the Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships) to ensure the operation of the international system for the Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) worldwide by auditing and reviewing the performance of the system.

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    IMSO: Historical Retrospect

    The establishment of the Organization was based on two international public law instruments developed under the guidance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  These are:

    • Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organization (Inmarsat) between States Parties to the Convention; and
    • Operating Agreement between telecommunications entities public and private (one per Party) called “Signatories” designated by a State.

    Both instruments entered into force on 16 July 1979.

    The purpose of Inmarsat was to make provision for the space segment necessary for improved maritime communications and, in particular, for improved safety of life at sea communications and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).  This purpose was later extended through amendments to the Convention and Operating Agreement to provide the space segment for land mobile and aeronautical communications, and the name of the organization was changed to the International Mobile Satellite Organization to reflect the amended purpose.

    Inmarsat was structured with three principal organs:

    • The Assembly of Parties (one State, one vote), which dealt with general policy matters and the long term objectives of the Organization;
    • The Council composed of 22 Signatories, or groups of Signatories.  It decided on all financial, operational, technical and administrative matters, and made provision for the space segment for carrying out the purposes of the Organization. Signatories’ voting rights were linked to their utilization of the system via investment shares;
    • The Directorate which was the executive body of the Organization headed by a Director General who was the Chief Executive Officer and legal representative of the Organization.

    Governing Bodies of IMSO

    • Assembly of Parties, which meets every two years;
    • Advisory Committee (comprising around one third of the Member States appointed by the Assembly every two years) which meets on a regular basis, at least twice a year;  and
    • Small Directorate headed by the Director General who is the Chief Executive Officer and legal representative of the Organization.

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