The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948 and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959. Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 172 Member States, IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly. The work of IMO is conducted through five committees and these are supported by technical subcommittees, other UN organisations may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organisations, IMO is supported by a permanent secretariat of employees who are representative of the organisations members. Hitherto such international conventions had been initiated piecemeal, notably the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, the first meetings of the newly formed IMCO were held in London in 1959. More recently SOLAS has been amended to bring a focus on maritime security through the International Ship. The IMO has also increased its focus on air emissions from ships, in January 1959, IMO began to maintain and promote the 1954 OILPOL Convention. Under the guidance of IMO, the convention was amended in 1962,1969, as oil trade and industry developed, many people in the industry began to recognize a need for further improvements in regards to oil pollution prevention at sea. Among other things, the accident forced the industry and public to question the efficacy of standing regulations. This incident prompted a series of new conventions, IMO held an emergency session of its Council to deal with the need to readdress regulations pertaining to maritime pollution. In 1969, the IMO Assembly decided to host a gathering in 1973 dedicated to this issue. The goal at hand was to develop an international agreement for controlling general environmental contamination by ships out at sea. During the next few years IMO brought to the forefront a series of measures designed to prevent large ship accidents and it also detailed how to deal with the environmental threat caused by routine ship duties such as the cleaning of oil cargo tanks or the disposal of engine room wastes. Interestingly enough in terms of tonnage the afore-mentioned was a problem than accidental pollution. The most significant thing to come out of conference was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships,1973. It covers not only accidental and operational oil pollution but also different types of pollution by chemicals, goods in packaged form, sewage, garbage, the original MARPOL was signed on 17 February 1973, but did not come into force due to lack of ratifications. The current convention is a combination of 1973 Convention and the 1978 Protocol and it entered into force on 2 October 1983. As of May 2013,152 states, representing 99.2 per cent of the worlds shipping tonnage, are involved in the convention, in 1983 the IMO established the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden
The Headquarters of the IMO are located on Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London.
The waterfront of Lambeth, London with the International Maritime Organization Headquarters in centre.
An image of the main hall assembly chamber, where the MSC and MEPC committee's of the International Maritime Organization meet each year.