IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.


IMO’s first meeting was held in London on 6 January 1959, at Church House in central London. Since then, IMO Member States are trying to develop the global regulatory framework for international shipping.

Accompanied by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a commemorative plaque and cut an anniversary cake. Her Majesty also met some of the guests attending the event, including representatives of IMO Member States, inter-governmental and international non-governmental organizations, and IMO Secretariat staff.

Shipping is a truly international industry, transporting more than 80% of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world. The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry - and this is provided by the regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO.

Today, IMO continues its work to improve maritime safety and security, the efficiency of navigation and the prevention and control of pollution from ships, as well as the fair and effective implementation of its regulations.

IMO measures cover all aspects of international shipping - including ship design, construction, equipment, crewing, operation and disposal – to ensure that this vital sector for remains safe, environmentally sound, energy efficient and secure.

IMO has 173 Member States and is the only United Nations agency to be headquartered in the UK.

2018 marks the 70th year since it was formed, by the adoption of an international convention in Geneva.