Topics at IMO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized international agency of the United Nations. The IMO’s primary purpose is to ensure cooperation between Administrations with regards to all manners of technical instruments and conventions affecting international maritime trade, and to promote the safety of shipping, effective maritime operations, and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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.

An overview of the IMO structure can be seen in the chart below. IMO is governed by the IMO Assembly and the IMO Council. Beneath the Council, there are five main Committees, including the Maritime Safety Committee, which addresses issues related to safety at sea, and the Marine Environment Protection Committee which addresses issues related to protection of the environment. In order to ensure effective operations, numerous sub-committees have been established which report to their parent committees and provide advice on technical matters.

IMO Structure


The Assembly is the governing body of the IMO and consists of all of the member states and meets every two years. The Assembly determines the IMO’s work plan and budget, as well as carrying our elections of new members and other organizational tasks.


The IMO council consists of 40 Member States which serve a term of 2 years on the Council.

MSC (Maritime Safety Committee)

The MSC is composed of all the IMO Member States and meets three times over a two year span.
MSC is tasked with “considering any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with aid to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, maritime safety procedures and requirements, hydrographic information, log-books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime safety”. Further information about the activities of MSC and its Sub-Committees are available at the link below.

MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee)

MEPC is composed of all the IMO Member States and meets three times over a two year span. MEPC is tasked with “considering the prevention and the control of pollution from ships and related rules.” Further information about the activities of MEPC and its Sub-Committees is available at the link below.


Sub-Committees consist of all the IMO Member States and meet annually.
Each Sub-Committee carries out specialized discussions of on specific technical matters and then reports their findings to their parent committees (i.e. MSC and MEPC) for further action, for example the revision of conventions and other instruments.

Outcome of the IMO discussion and the ratification status of the convention

Outcomes of MSC and MEPC meetings are available at the link below.

Sample form for ship-specific plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water

SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 33 requests that the master of a ship at sea, receiving information that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance.
At IMO, measures to recover the persons in distress at sea have been discussed since 2006. Consequently, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, at its 91st session (MSC91), adopted the amendments of SOLAS to mandate all ships to have ship-specific plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water, taking into account the guidelines developed by IMO.
The above amendments will enter into force on 1st July 2014, and will be applied to all new and existing ships. ClassNK has developed a sample form to facilitate your preparation of the plans and procedures in accordance with the guidelines, which is available from the following links. Please be noted that ship-specific Annex 1 and Annex 2 should be conducted and documented even the sample form used.