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Theo Billeter, International School Eindhoven

Deputy President:
Alexandre Boudier, International School of Amsterdam

(Non Ad Hoc)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) specializes in regulating international shipping. The IMO is a specialized agency, meaning it serves as an autonomous organization working with the United Nations whilst coordinating with the machinery of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Other well-known specialized agencies are the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). With that, the IMO is also under the parent organization of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


Several nations proposed that a permanent international agency 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. This makes the IMO one of the oldest UN bodies currently in existence. The original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO. 


In order for a nation to become part of the IMO, they must ratify the treaty known as the Convention on the International Maritime Organization. As of 2020, the IMO consist of 175 member states (174 UNGA states and the Cook Islands). The IMO is currently located in London, the United Kingdom. 


The main objective of IMO is to, as stated in Article 1(a) of the UN convention, provide machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships.


IMO is the source of approximately 60 legal instruments that guide the regulatory development of its member states to improve safety at sea, facilitate trade among seafaring states and protect the maritime environment. The most prominent one is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as well as the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC). Other important instruments include the International Oil Compensation Funds (IOPC).


At this year’s Haarlem Model United Nations, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will consist of 30 nations that are all important parties in the inter-governmental regulation of shipping and other maritime activity. 

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