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The Role of the IMO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), is a specialised agency of the United Nations established by a UN conference and adopted the Convention on the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) in 1948. IMCO, the current IMO was established as a result. In 1958, the Convention entered into force and the IMO commenced its work. The headquarters of the IMO are in London, United Kingdom they have regional offices in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, the Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

The IMO currently has 174 Member States plus three associated Members and more than 145 observer organisations – 64 Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs) and 81 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) (as of 2019). Its six official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create and maintain a regulatory framework for the global shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented to create a level playing field. The IMO adopts policy that establishes and promotes enhanced safety, security and environmental soundness in global shipping and ensures that financial concerns do not result in compromises or deficiencies on these aforementioned pillars. Its governing bodies are Assembly and Council. There are five Committees and seven Sub-committees and further details on these can be found on the ITF global website

The ITF in the IMO

NGOs, as observer delegations to the IMO, participate in activities that are directly related to the purpose of the Organization. Consultative status of an NGO to the IMO is granted when the entity can attest that it is truly international and has the capability of making a substantial contribution to the work of the IMO by providing technical expertise and advice.

The ITF, as a social partner, is well-appreciated by diverse UN agencies. In the sphere of the IMO, a regulatory body in the maritime industry, the ITF obtained its consultative status in 1961. We speak on behalf of more than 1 million international maritime workers by advocating for all marine personnel’s safety, regardless of their geographical location. We acknowledge the profound roles and responsibilities assigned to us and strive to excel in our work to ensure the safety and security of maritime industry personnel continues to be fully considered at a high regulatory level.

ITF delegates to the IMO come from all around the world and from various backgrounds, gender and age groups. The ITF delegation’s democratic and international approach provides for a truly global maritime labour representation and ensures our collective voices are enshrined in this high-level legislation. In order to strengthen and improve the position of the ITF, the appointed ITF Accredited Representative to the IMO coordinates the participation of ITF delegation to the IMO work.

The ITF delegation attends all IMO governing bodies and actively participates in the five Committees and seven Sub-committees throughout the year. ITF delegates cover the Working, Drafting and Technical groups under each Committee/Sub-Committee as they relate to their expertise in the subject matter. The ITF delegates’ work also includes continuous contribution to Correspondence Groups, Experts Groups and Editorial & Technical Groups.