The International Maritime Organization or IMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention and regulation of pollution by shipping industry.
It is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. It creates a regulatory framework i.e. a set of rules and safety standards that have to be maintained by the shipping industry. It ensures that the rules and regulations formulated are reasonable and effective, globally adopted and universally applied.
It is the work of IMO that ensures that to earn more profit shipping industry operators do not compromise with their employee’s safety and security by cutting corners. Also, the IMO makes sure that in the quest for cheaper and easier trade, the environment is not compromised. It makes regulations to ensure minimal maritime pollution.
Need for IMO
Over 80% of international trade depends on the shipping industry. Without a smooth running operation the shipping industry wouldn’t be able to continue its work uninterrupted. IMO’s work ensures that this truly international industry can operate effectively. IMO ensures that internationally agreed upon laws are practiced to maintain similar standards all across the globe.
Shipping has been accepted as the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods. Today, more than ever, the world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry. This is possible only because of the presence of IMO.
IMO currently has 171 Member States and three Associate Members. It consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees, which are as listed below:
- The Maritime Safety Committee
- The Marine Environment Protection Committee
- The Legal Committee
- The Technical Co-operation Committee
- The Facilitation Committee
There are also a number of Sub-Committees. These sub-committees support the work of the main technical committees. The current Secretary-General is Ki Tack Lim (South Korea), who started his term in office on 1 January 2016.
IMO operates from its headquarters located in Lambeth, London.
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