The International Maritime Organization / IMO

The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for measures to improve the safety of international transport and to prevent pollution from ships. The organization deals with legal issues, including issues of liability and compensation, and also promotes international maritime shipping. 

The rapid development of international trade relations at the beginning of the XNUMXth century showed that activities aimed at improving the safety of maritime navigation should be carried out at the international level, and not by individual countries acting unilaterally without any coordination with other states.

March 6, 1948 in Geneva at a conference convened by the United Nations was adopted Convention on the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) (Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, IMCO).International Maritime Organization

On March 17, 1958, the convention entered into force and the newly created organization began its activities, the organization determined the following important points.

  1. Provide a mechanism for cooperation in the field of practical regulation of technical issues affecting international commercial transport.
  2. To promote and encourage the unification of practical maximum standards in the field of maritime security, not pollution of the sea from ships, and efficiency of navigation.
  3. To consider the legal and administrative tasks corresponding to the goals set forth in the article.

At the 9 Session of the Assembly of the Organization (Resolution A.358 (IX)), the name of the organization was changed as it was assumed that the term "advisory" could be mistakenly interpreted as limiting authority or responsibility, respectively, part of the name "intergovernmental" - was indirectly suspicious and mistrust.

Based on these considerations, the replacement of the name on the International Maritime Organization was absolutely necessary to enhance the role of IMO at the international level, with the goal of placing responsibility for implementing various international conventions, creating standards and norms related to the preservation of human life and the aquatic environment from intentional or unintentional pollution. Since 22 May 1982, its current name is valid. 

The headquarters of the organization is located at 4, Albert Embankment London United Kingdom.

IMO activities are aimed at the abolition of discriminatory practices affecting international merchant shipping, as well as the adoption of standards (standards) to ensure maritime safety and the prevention of pollution from ships environmental protection, primarily of the marine environment. 

In a sense, the organization is a forum in which the member states of this organization exchange information, discuss legal, technical and other problems related to shipping, as well as pollution from ships of the environment, primarily the marine environment.

Currently, the International Maritime Organization has a Member State's 174. The IMO’s governing body is the Assembly, which consists of all Member States and usually meets once every two years. 

View the list of Member States of the International Maritime Organization Close list of Member States of the International Maritime Organization

Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Vanuatu, Hungary Venezuela, Vietnam, Gabon, Guyana, Haiti, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong (China), Grenada, Greece, Georgia, Denmark, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic , Egypt, Israel, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Iceland Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mauritania, Macao (China), Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, Mongolia , Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, United Republic of Tanzania the highlight of Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, the Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, San Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Senegal, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Syrian Arab Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Solom ONES Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay Faroe Islands Fiji, the Philippines, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Chile, Switzerland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Jamaica, Japan.


IMO has a council which consists of 40 states, including Russia. States are divided into three large groups: 10 of leading maritime states, 10 of other states significant in terms of international maritime trade, and 20 of maritime states elected to the Council in order to ensure geographical representation of various regions of the world. 

In addition to the Assembly, there are 5 committees within IMO:

  1. Maritime Safety Committee MSC - MSC);
  2. the Marine Environment Protection Committee (Marine Environment Protection Committee, MEPC - MEPC);
  3. Legal Committee (LEG - YURKOM);
  4. Technical Cooperation Committee (CTS);
  5. to facilitate navigation formalities Committee (FAL);

and 9 subcommittees (MSC or MEPC) and a secretariat led by the Secretary General. Since 2015, the representative of the Republic of Korea, Ki Tak Lim, has been elected Secretary General at the 114th session.

All regulatory and legal documents prepared in subcommittees and considered at the session of the Committee considered and adopted, as a rule, at the regular sessions of the Assembly. The most serious, strategic decisions can make decisions organized by the IMO diplomatic conference.

IMO takes decisions in the form of the Organization's resolutions, to which, if necessary, various documents (codes, circular letters, amendments to existing documents - conventions, codes, etc.) can be attached. Subject to the conditions and terms of entry into force, such mandatory decisions must be implemented by the Administrations (the Governments of the member countries). The decisions of the IMO Assembly that do not change or supplement the adopted conventions are of a recommendatory nature and can be carried out by the national maritime administrations by including decisions (or making their own decisions on them) in national legislation.

Organization's activities

During the ten-year period after the creation of IMO, one of the most important problems was the threat of sea pollution from ships, especially oil transported by tankers. The relevant international convention was adopted in 1954, and in January 1959, IMO assumed responsibility for the application and promotion this convention. From the very beginning, the most important goals of IMO were to increase safety at sea and prevent its pollution.

SOLAS Convention (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS - SOLAS)It is considered the most important of all conventions dealing with maritime safety. The convention was concluded in 1960, after which IMO focused on issues such as the promotion of international maritime transport (Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Shipping 1965), the definition of the position of the load line (Convention on the load line 1966 of the year) and the transport of dangerous goods The ship tonnage measurement system has also been revised (International Convention on the Measurement of Ships 1969 of the Year).

November 1 1974, at the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS new text was adopted. In 1988, at the International Conference on the harmonized system of survey and certification was adopted by the Protocol to the Convention. In 1992, the IMO issued a so-called consolidated text of the SOLAS Convention.

accident of the tanker Torrey CanyonAlthough maritime safety was and remains the most important task of IMO, in the mid-60s the problem of environmental pollution, primarily marine pollution, came to the fore. The increase in the number of oil products transported by sea, as well as the size of ships carrying these oil products, caused particular concern. The scale of the problem was clearly demonstrated accident tanker Torrey Canyon, which occurred in 1967, when 120 000 tons of oil got into the sea.

Over the next few years, the IMO has adopted a number of measures aimed at preventing tanker accidents and minimizing the consequences of these accidents. The organization also took environmental pollution caused by actions such as cleaning oil tanks and machinery spaces dumping of waste - the tonnage they cause more harm than pollution resulting from accidents.

The most important of these measures was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73 / 78) (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL)It was adopted in the year 1973, 1978 and modified by the Protocol of the year. It covers not only cases of emergency and / or operational oil pollution but also pollution of the sea by liquid chemicals, harmful substances in packaged form, by sewage, garbage and pollution to air pollution vessels.

In 1990 year has also been prepared and signed the International Convention for preparedness in case of oil pollution, Response and Cooperation.

In addition, IMO has decided the task of creating a system designed to ensure compensation to those who suffered financially due to contamination. Matching two multilateral agreements (International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage) were adopted and the 1969 1971, respectively. They simplify and speed up the procedure for obtaining compensation for pollution.

Both Conventions were revised in 1992 and again in 2000, which increased the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution. A large number of other international agreements and documents on issues affecting international shipping have also been and are being prepared under the auspices of the IMO.

Huge progress made in communication technology have made it possible to produce lasting improvements in the maritime distress rescue system. In 1970-ies was put in place a global system for search and rescue distress. Then there was established the International Mobile Satellite Organization (International Maritime Satellite Organization, INMARSAT -INMARSAT), which seriously improved the conditions for the transfer of radio and other communications to and from ships at sea.

In 1978, IMO established World Maritime Day to draw attention to the issue of maritime safety and the conservation of marine biological resources.

In 1992 it was identified stages of the implementation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, GMDSS). Since February 1999, the GMDSS was fully operational and now tolerate any point of the globe vessel in distress can get help, even if the crew does not have time to broadcast a signal for help, because the corresponding message will be sent automatically.

Other measures developed by the IMO, the Container Security, bulk cargo, tankers for the transport of liquefied natural gas, as well as other types of vessels. 

Special attention was paid to the training standards of the crew, including the adoption of a special International Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (International Convention for the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, STCW - STCW), which entered into force in April 28 1984 years. In 1995, the STCW Convention was significantly revised. Significant changes in the content of the STCW Convention have been made later, including 2010 year at a conference in Manila (Philippines).

Currently it recommended to call a convention "STCW as amended,» (STCW as amended).
In 1983, the IMO in Malmö (Sweden) was founded by the World Maritime University, which provides training leaders, teachers and other professionals in the field of navigation.

In 1989 year in Valletta (Malta) was created by the International Institute of Marine IMO law, which trains lawyers in international law of the sea. At the same time in Trieste (Italy) it was founded by the International Maritime Academy, conducting specialized short-term courses on various maritime disciplines. 

Over the years, the following key recommendations, codes and similar documents have been adopted:

  • The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code was originally adopted in 1965; acquired binding force in accordance with the amendments to the SOLAS Convention adopted in 2002;
  • Code of Safe Transport for Bulk Cargo (NG Code) 1965;
  • The International Code for the Carriage of Sea Bulk Cargo (CIPIC) 2008 of the year, became binding in accordance with the amendments to the SOLAS Convention adopted in 2008;
  • International Code of Signals (all functions related to this document were transferred to the Organization in 1965);
  • Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (LOC) 1971;
  • Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Deck Timber Cargo 1973;
  • 1974 Fishermen and Fishing Vessel Safety Code of the Year;
  • Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk 1975;
  • Ship Security Code with Dynamic Principles for Maintaining 1977 of the Year;
  • Code of construction and equipment of floating drilling rigs (Code PBU) 1979;
  • Code of Noise Levels on 1981 ships of the year;
  • The Code of Safety of Nuclear Trade Ships 1981 of the Year;
  • Security Code of Special Purpose Vessels 1983; 0
  • The International Gas Carrier Code (ICG) 1983 of the Year, became binding in accordance with the SOLAS Convention;
  • The International Bulk Chemical Code (HIC) 1983 of the Year has become binding in accordance with the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions;
  • Security Code of the Diving Complexes 1983;
  • The International Code for the Safe Transport of Grain in Bulk 1991 of the Year, has become binding in accordance with the SOLAS Convention;
  • The International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) 1993 of the year has become binding in accordance with the SOLAS Convention;
  • The International Code for the Security of High-Speed ​​Ships (VS Code) 1994 and 2000, has become binding in accordance with the SOLAS Convention;
  • The International Life Saving Code (ESA) 1996 of the Year, has become binding in accordance with the SOLAS Convention;
  • The International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures (IOI Code) 1996 of the Year, has become binding under the SOLAS Convention;
  • The Technical Code for the Control of Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides from Marine Diesel Engines (Technical Code for NOX) 1997 of the Year has become binding in accordance with the MARPOL Convention.