Brief history of IMO
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 ...view middle of the document...
But although safety was and remains IMO's most important responsibility, a new problem began to emerge - pollution. The growth in the amount of oil being transported by sea and in the size of oil tankers was of particular concern and the Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967, in which 120,000 tonnes of oil was spilled, demonstrated the scale of the problem.
The most important of all these measures was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78). It covers not only accidental and operational oil pollution but also pollution by chemicals, goods in packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution.
IMO was also given the task of establishing a system for providing compensation to those who had suffered financially as a result of pollution. Two treaties were adopted, in 1969 and 1971, which enabled victims of oil pollution to obtain compensation much more simply and quickly than had been possible before. Both treaties were amended in 1992, and again in 2000, to increase the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution. A number of other legal conventions have been developed since, most of which concern liability and compensation issues. Also in the 1970s a global search and rescue system was initiated, with the establishment of the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), which has greatly improved the provision of radio and other messages to ships.
On 1 February 1997, the 1995 amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 entered into force. They greatly improve seafarer standards and, for the first time, give IMO itself powers to check Government actions with Parties required to submit information to IMO regarding their compliance with the Convention.
New conventions relating to the marine environment were adopted in the early 2000s, including one on anti-fouling sytems (AFS 2001) and ballast water management (BWM 2004).
Members and structure of IMO
IMO, whose membership includes some 170 Member States and 110 participating NGOs, works constantly to establish, update and revised safety criteria for ship construction and equipment, technical requirements and limits for cargo loading, prevention of oil pollution, and emission of harmful substances and exhaust gas from the ships, environmental protection, maritime security, among other areas.
|Australia |1952 |
|Brazil |1963 |
|Canada |1948 |