It has always been recognized that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping nations and from the mid-19th century onwards a number of such treaties were adopted. Several countries proposed that a permanent international body should be established to promote maritime safety more effectively, but it was not until the establishment of the United Nations itself that these hopes were realized. In 1948 an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention formally establishing IMO (the original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO).
The IMO Convention entered into force in 1958 and the new Organization met for the first time the following year.
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. 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. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.
International shipping transports more than 80 per cent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples.
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.
Shipping is an essential component of any programme for future sustainable economic growth. Through IMO, the Organization’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.
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 IMO, of global standards covering these and other issues will underpin IMO's commitment to provide the institutional framework necessary for a green and sustainable global maritime transportation system.
Where is International Maritime Organization (IMO)