International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

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This topic of “International Maritime Organisation (IMO)” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


In recent news, India’s re-election to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council for the biennium 2024-25 has underscored its substantial role in international seaborne trade. To delve into the significance of this event, we must first understand the core aspects of the IMO Council and its functions.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

The International Maritime Organisation, often referred to as IMO, stands as a specialized agency under the United Nations (UN) umbrella. Established in 1948, its inaugural meeting took place in 1958. IMO’s headquarters are situated in London, United Kingdom, and it boasts a membership of 175 Member States and 3 Associate Members.

Purpose and Focus

The primary purpose of the IMO is to develop a regulatory framework for shipping, addressing crucial areas such as:

  • Maritime Safety
  • Environmental Concerns
  • Legal Matters
  • Technical Cooperation
  • Maritime Security
  • Shipping Efficiency

Governing Structure

The IMO’s governing structure consists of two significant bodies:

  • Assembly: This body convenes every two years.
  • Council: Comprising 40 Member States elected by the Assembly, the Council acts as the governing body between Assembly sessions.


The Secretary-General of the IMO is responsible for its administration. The current Secretary-General is Kitack Lim from South Korea, serving from 2016 to 2023. His successor, Arsenio Dominguez, will assume office in 2024.


The IMO Secretariat is composed of international civil servants and is organized into various divisions, including:

  • Marine Safety
  • Environmental Protection
  • Conference Section

Technical Work

Technical work within the IMO is carried out by five principal committees:

  • Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)
  • Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)
  • Legal Committee
  • Technical Cooperation Committee (with a focus on capacity building)
  • Facilitation Committee (simplifying documentation and formalities in shipping)

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) holds the distinction of being the most senior technical committee within the IMO. It has oversight of nine sub-committees and is responsible for initiating new topics related to maritime safety. Some of the broad topics it addresses include the human element on casualties and the development of the ship management code.


The MSC oversees the following sub-committees:

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

Recent News: India’s Role in IMO Council

India’s re-election to the IMO Council for the biennium 2024-25 is a noteworthy event in the maritime world. This achievement highlights India’s prominent role in global maritime trade. Here are some key details:

  • Term: India’s term on the IMO Council is for the biennium 2024-25.
  • Votes: India received 157 out of 167 votes, showcasing strong support from the international maritime community.
  • Category: India is among the ten states with the largest interest in international seaborne trade.
  • Context: This re-election underscores India’s significant influence and contributions to the regulation and promotion of safe and efficient shipping practices on the global stage.


India’s re-election to the IMO Council serves as a testament to its growing prominence in the realm of international maritime trade and safety. As a key player within the IMO, India’s role in shaping the future of global shipping regulations and standards is set to become even more pronounced in the coming years.

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