It was common believe that international regulations endorsed and followed by many countries could effectively improve maritime security and safety as well as boost world trade. As such, from 19th century till date many maritime treaties have been adopted.
A permanent regulatory body for maritime related affairs was proposed and the emergence of the United Nations (UN) birthed a convention to establish an organization called Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) at an international conference in Geneva in 1948.
The IMCO was saddled with the responsibility of developing and maintaining a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping.
After establishing the IMCO in 1948, it came into force ten years later - in 1958, meeting for the first time in 1959.
In 1982, the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) was formally renamed "International Maritime Organization (IMO)". The IMO's tasks covers safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
The headquarter of IMO is in London, United Kingdom. The organization is made up of about 167 member states and three associate members. Membership includes nations of the world with interest in maritime affairs, as well as those in the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting the maritime environment and ecosystem.
IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly. The work of IMO is conducted through five committees and these are supported by technical subcommittees. Other UN organizations may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.
The organization is supported by a permanent secretariat of employees who are representative of the organization's members. The secretariat is composed of a Secretary-General who is periodically elected by the assembly, and various divisions such as those for marine safety, environmental protection and a conference section.