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IMO (International Maritime Organization)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is undoubtedly the single most important ‘governing’ body of all that happens on our seas. One ship can be affected by the rules and regulations of dozens, if not many more, countries in its trading life through its calls at ports, the nationality of it management and the nationality of its owners. Therefore, there is a vital need for international standards to regulate shipping – which can be adopted and accepted by all.

A landmark Convention establishing the IMO was adopted in Geneva in 1948. When the IMO first met in 1959, its main task was to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. Today, that remit has been widened to include safety, legal concerns, technical co-operation, environmental matters and security.

With 167 Member States, it would be a near impossible task to put everything concerning shipping to every member every time. Instead a concentrated collection of committees and sub-committees meet every year to update existing legislation or develop and adopt new regulations. Interestingly, the IMO is unique in that it is the only United Nations agency to be based in the United Kingdom.