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IMO Full Form: History, Objective, Members etc.

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IMO Full Form: The International Maritime Organization is a specialised UN agency in charge of shipping regulation. An international conference in Geneva in 1948 adopted a convention formally establishing the IMO (the original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO). The primary goal of the IMO is to create and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping, and its mandate now includes maritime safety, environmental concerns, legal issues, technical cooperation, maritime security, and shipping efficiency.

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A member assembly meets every two years to govern the IMO. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is headquartered in London, United Kingdom, and currently has 175 Member States and three Associate Members. We provide detailed information about IMP throughout this article, such as the history of IMO objectives, structure, members, and much more.

Page Index
1 IMO Overview
2 What is IMO?
3 Structure of IMO
4 Sub-Committee
5 Strategic Plan for the IMO
6 Membership
7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

IMO Overview

Before we get into the IMO’s details, look at the table below for a quick overview.

IMOInternational Maritime Organization
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Formation17 March 1948; 73 years ago
Parent OrganizationUnited Nations Economic and Social Council
TypeUnited Nations specialized agency
Member174 Member

What is IMO?

  • IMO stands for International Maritime Organization, and it is the UN specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. Its work supports the UN’s sustainable development goals.
  • The International Maritime Organization is a United Nations specialised agency in charge of measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent ship pollution.
  • It is also concerned with legal issues such as liability and compensation and facilitating international maritime traffic. It was established by a Convention adopted under the auspices of the United Nations on March 6, 1948, in Geneva and met for the first time in January 1959.


  • It has consistently been recognized that the simplest way of improving safety perplexed is by developing international regulations that all shipping nations follow. From the mid-19th century onwards, several such treaties were adopted.
  • Several countries proposed that a permanent international body should be established to push maritime safety more effectively. Still, it was not until the establishment of the international organization itself that these hopes were realized.
  • In 1948 a world 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).

Objective of IMO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a world organization specialized agency, aims to market safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation. This may be accomplished by adopting the best practicable standards of maritime safety and security, the efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of pollution from ships, furthermore through consideration of the related legal matters and effective implementation of IMO instruments, with a view to their universal and uniform application.

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Structure of IMO

The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council, five main Committees and several Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees. The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: 

>The Maritime Safety Committee
>The Marine Environment Protection Committee
>The Legal Committee
>The Technical Cooperation Committee and the Facilitation Committee, and Several Sub

>Committees support the work of the main technical committees.

Advantages of IMO

  • Standardization of maritime practices
  • Promotion of maritime safety through conventions like SOLAS
  • Environmental protection via conventions like MARPOL
  • Facilitation of international trade by establishing rules and protocols
  • Promotion of maritime security through initiatives like ISPS Code

Disadvantages of IMO

  • Limited enforcement power
  • Limited scope beyond shipping activities
  • Lack of transparency in decision-making
  • Funding challenges due to reliance on member states
  • Limited influence over larger countries and companies


A number of sub-committees open to all Member States assist the MSC and MEPC in their work. The committees are as follows:

Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW)Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III)
Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR)Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR)
Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC)Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE)
Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC).

In 2013, the names of the IMO subcommittees were changed. Prior to 2013, the following Sub-Committees existed:

Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG)Carriage of Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers(DSC)
Fire Protection (FP)Radio-communications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR)
Safety of Navigation (NAV)Ship Design and Equipment (DE)
Stability and Load Lines and Fishing Vessels Safety (SLF)Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW)
Flag State Implementation (FSI)

Strategic Plan for the IMO

The overarching principles which should be taken into account in all of the Organization’s work and the strategic directions:

  • SD 1 Improve implementation
  • SD 2 Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework
  • SD 3 Respond to climate change
  • SD 4 Engage in ocean governance
  • SD 5 Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade
  • SD 6 Ensure regulatory effectiveness
  • SD 7 Ensure organizational effectiveness

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IMO currently has 174 Member States and three Associate Members. These are the current members with the year they joined:

Albania (1993)Ghana (1959)Palau (2011)
Algeria (1963)Greece (1958)Panama (1958)
Angola (1977)Grenada (1998)Papua New Guinea (1976)
Antigua and Barbuda (1986)Guatemala (1983)Paraguay (1993)
Argentina (1953)Guinea (1975)Peru (1968)
Armenia (2018)Guinea-Bissau (1977)Philippines (1964)
Australia (1952)Guyana (1980)Poland (1960)
Austria (1975)Haiti (1953)Portugal (1976)
Azerbaijan (1995)Honduras (1954)Qatar (1977)
Bahamas (1976)Hungary (1970)Republic of Korea (1962)
Bahrain (1976)Iceland (1960)Republic of Moldova (2001)
Bangladesh (1976)India (1959)Romania (1965)
Barbados (1970)Indonesia (1961)Russian Federation (1958)
Belarus (2016)Iran (1958)Saint Kitts and Nevis (2001)
Belgium (1951)Iraq (1973)Saint Lucia (1980)
Belize (1990)Ireland (1951)Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1981)
Benin (1980)Israel (1952)Samoa (1996)
Bolivia (1987)Italy (1957)San Marino (2002)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993)Jamaica (1976)São Tomé and Príncipe (1990)
Brazil (1963)Japan (1958)Saudi Arabia (1969)
Brunei Darussalam (1984)Jordan (1973)Senegal (1960)
Bulgaria (1960)Kazakhstan (1994)Serbia (2000)
Cabo Verde (1976)Kenya (1973)Seychelles (1978)
Cambodia (1961)Kiribati (2003)Sierra Leone (1973)
Cameroon (1961)Kuwait (1960)Singapore (1966)
Canada (1948)Latvia (1993)Slovakia (1993)
Chile (1972)Lebanon (1966)Slovenia (1993)
China (1973)Liberia (1959)Solomon Islands (1988)
Colombia (1974)Libya (1970)Somalia (1978)
Comoros (2001)Lithuania (1995)South Africa (1995)
Congo (1975)Luxembourg (1991)Spain (1962)
Cook Islands (2008)Madagascar (1961)Sri Lanka (1972)
Costa Rica (1981)Malawi (1989)Sudan (1974)
Côte d’Ivoire (1960)Malaysia (1971)Suriname (1976)
Croatia (1992)Maldives (1967)Sweden (1959)
Cuba (1966)Malta (1966)Switzerland (1955)
Cyprus (1973)Marshall Islands (1998)Syria (1963)
Czechia (1993)Mauritania (1961)Tanzania (1974)
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (1986)Mauritius (1978)Thailand (1973)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (1973)Mexico (1954)Timor-Leste (2005)
Denmark (1959)Monaco (1989)Togo (1983)
Djibouti (1979)Mongolia (1996)Tonga (2000)
Dominica (1979)Montenegro (2006)Trinidad and Tobago (1965)
Dominican Republic (1953)Morocco (1962)Tunisia (1963)
Ecuador (1956)Mozambique (1979)Turkey (1958)
Egypt (1958)Myanmar (1951)Turkmenistan (1993)
El Salvador (1981)Namibia (1994)Tuvalu (2004)
Equatorial Guinea (1972)Nauru (2018)Uganda (2009)
Eritrea (1993)Nepal (1979)Ukraine (1994)
Estonia (1992)Netherlands (1949)United Arab Emirates (1980)
Ethiopia (1975)New Zealand (1960)United Kingdom (1949)
Fiji (1983)Nicaragua (1982)United States of America (1950)
Finland (1959)Nigeria (1962)Uruguay (1968)
France (1952)North Macedonia (1993)Vanuatu (1986)
Gabon (1976)Norway (1958)Venezuela (1975)
Gambia (1979)Oman (1974)Viet Nam (1984)
Georgia (1993)Pakistan (1958)Yemen (1979)
Germany (1959)Zambia (2014)Zimbabwe (2005)


Improving the safety, security, and environmental friendliness of international shipping is very important to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The organization was created in 1948 and sets rules and standards to ensure safe travel, stop pollution, and make maritime trade easier. Despite problems with enforcement and funding, the IMO keeps changing by adding new technologies and reacting to new problems like climate change. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is still dedicated to its goal of promoting safe and efficient shipping around the world. Its strategy plan is centred on efficiency and working together between countries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I become a member of IMO?

Only a country can become a Member of IMO. IMO currently has 174 Member States. Shipping and other interests are represented at IMO through Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs), which have concluded agreements of cooperation with IMO and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Consultative Status with IMO. Individuals wishing to raise an issue at IMO should approach their national maritime administration or appropriate IGO or NGO.​

Who is the Secretary-General of IMO?

The current Secretary-General is Mr Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea).

What is the purpose of the International Maritime Organization?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and prevent marine pollution.

IMO stand for?

International Maritime Organization.

Is India a Member of IMO? India and IMO.

India has been a member of the IMO since 1959. India has had the privilege of being elected to and serving the Council of the IMO ever since it started functioning till date, except for two years, the period 1983-1984.

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