Seafaring has always been one of the world's most dangerous occupations. The unpredictability of the weather and the vast power of the sea itself seemed so great that for centuries it was assumed that little could be done to make shipping safer.
In response to major disasters, states moved towards internationalization of the law, first by the harmonization of local regulations, through bilateral treaties, agreements or understandings among the leading maritime nations. Some organizations operated for a time and then vanished or were absorbed, others were transitory to meet the exigencies of war. Next, nations held international conferences in order to set up universal rules and finally, intergovernmental organizations took over in order to encourage the adoption of international instruments to regulate safety at sea and prevention of pollution from ships.
A Conference convened by the United Nations in Geneva in 1948 ended on 6 March with the successful adoption of the Convention on the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO). The Organization changed its name to International Maritime Organization (IMO) in May 1982.