Structure of IMO

The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council, five main Committees and a number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees.

The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: the Maritime Safety Committee; the Marine Environment Protection Committee; the Legal Committee; the Technical Cooperation Committee and the Facilitation Committee and a number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees.

For summary reports on the work of the Committees and Sub-Committees, please see the Meetings section.


This is the highest Governing Body of the Organization. It consists of all Member States and it meets once every two years in regular sessions, but may also meet in an extraordinary session if necessary. The Assembly is responsible for approving the work programme, voting the budget and determining the financial arrangements of the Organization. The Assembly also elects the Council.


The Council is elected by the Assembly for two-year terms beginning after each regular session of the Assembly.

The Council is the Executive Organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization. Between sessions of the Assembly the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except the function of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention which is reserved for the Assembly by Article 15(j) of the Convention.

Other functions of the Council are to:

  1. coordinate the activities of the organs of the Organization;
  2. consider the draft work programme and budget estimates of the Organization and submit them to the Assembly;
  3. receive reports and proposals of the Committees and other organs and submit them to the Assembly and Member States, with comments and recommendations as appropriate;
  4. appoint the Secretary-General, subject to the approval of the Assembly;
  5. enter into agreements or arrangements concerning the relationship of the Organization with other organizations, subject to approval by the Assembly.

Council members for the 2024-2025 biennium

The 33rd Assembly elected the following States to be Members of the Council for the 2024-2025 biennium:

Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order):

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States

Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Bahamas, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Türkiye.

IMO has adopted amendments to expand the size of the IMO Council to 52. (read more here )

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC)

The MSC is the highest technical body of the Organization. It consists of all Member States. The functions of the Maritime Safety Committee are to "consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with aids to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, maritime safety procedures and requirements, hydrographic information, log-books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime safety".

The Committee is also required to provide machinery for performing any duties assigned to it by the IMO Convention or any duty within its cope of work which may be assigned to it by or under any international instrument and accepted by the Organization. It also has the responsibility for considering and submitting recommendations and guidelines on safety for possible adoption by the Assembly.

The expanded MSC adopts amendments to conventions such as SOLAS and includes all Member States as well as those countries which are Party to conventions such as SOLAS even if they are not IMO Member States.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)

The MEPC, which consists of all Member States, is empowered to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with prevention and control of pollution from ships. In particular it is concerned with the adoption and amendment of conventions and other regulations and measures to ensure their enforcement.

The MEPC was first established as a subsidiary body of the Assembly and raised to full constitutional status in 1985.


The MSC and MEPC are assisted in their work by a number of sub-committees which are also open to all Member States:

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

Legal Committee

The Legal Committee is empowered to deal with any legal matters within the scope of the Organization. The Committee consists of all Member States of IMO. It was established in 1967 as a subsidiary body to deal with legal questions which arose in the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster.

The Legal Committee is also empowered to perform any duties within its scope which may be assigned by or under any other international instrument and accepted by the Organization.

Technical Cooperation Committee

The Technical Cooperation Committee is required to consider any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the implementation of technical cooperation projects for which the Organization acts as the executing or cooperating agency and any other matters related to the Organization's activities in the technical cooperation field.

The Technical Cooperation Committee consists of all Member States of IMO, was established in 1969 as a subsidiary body of the Council, and was institutionalized by means of an amendment to the IMO Convention which entered into force in 1984.

Facilitation Committee

The Facilitation Committee was established as a subsidiary body of the Council in May 1972, and became fully institutionalised in December 2008 as a result of an amendment to the IMO Convention.  It consists of all the Member States of the Organization and deals with IMO's work in eliminating unnecessary formalities and "red tape" in international shipping by implementing all aspects of the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic 1965 and any matter within the scope of the Organization concerned with the facilitation of international maritime traffic. In particular in recent years the Committee's work, in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly, has been to ensure that the right balance is struck between maritime security and the facilitation of international maritime trade.


The Secretariat of IMO consists of the Secretary-General and some 300 international personnel based at the headquarters of the Organization in London.

The Secretary-General of the Organization is Mr. Arsenio Dominguez who was appointed to the position with effect from 1 January 2024, for an initial four-year term. 

The holders of the office have been:

Ove Nielsen (Denmark)1959-1961
William Graham (United Kingdom, Acting)1961-1963
Jean Roullier (France)1964-1967
Colin Goad (United Kingdom)1968-1973
Chandrika Prasad Srivastava (India)1974-1989
William A. O'Neil (Canada)1990-2003
Efthimios E. Mitropoulos (Greece)2004-2011
Koji Sekimizu (Japan)2012-2015
Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea)
Arsenio Dominguez Velasco (Panama)2024-

Regional Presence

IMO has regional coordinators/advisors for technical cooperation activities, in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago. 

IMO funds one Technical Cooperation Officer within the Pacific Community (SPC), based in Suva, Fiji. A new Regional Presence Office (RPO) for IMO in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in Alexandria, Egypt, is set to open by end 2023.  

Budget 2024-2025

The IMO Assembly in 2023 adopted the budget and work programme for 2024 to 2025.  

The results-based budget for the 2024-2025 biennium is £83,653,000 comprising an appropriation of £40,923,000 for 2024 and an appropriation of £42,730,000 for 2025. This will be largely financed by contributions from Member States, of £73,153,000, comprising £35,572,000 for 2024 and £37,581,000 for 2025.

Contributions to the IMO budget are based on a formula which is different from that used in other United Nations agencies: the amount paid by each Member State depends primarily on the tonnage of its merchant fleet.

See also the IMO Financial Statements.