International Maritime Organization (IMO), based in the United Kingdom, first met in 1959. IMO’s tasks have been to develop and maintain a complete regulation for shipping : includes safety, environmental, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. IMO update existing legislation or develop and adopt new regulations, with meetings attended by maritime experts from Member Governments, together with those from interested intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The result is a comprehensive body of international conventions, supported by hundreds of recommendations governing every facet of shipping. There are, firstly, measures aimed at the prevention of accidents, including standards for ship design, construction, equipment, operation and manning . There are measures which recognize that accidents do happen, including rules concerning distress and safety communications, the International Convention on Search and Rescue and the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation. We have to remember about conventions which establish compensation and liability regimes – including the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, the convention establishing the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage and the Athens Convention covering liability and compensation for passengers at sea. Inspection and monitoring of compliance are the responsibility of member States, but the adoption of a Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme is playing a key role in enhancing implementation of IMO standards. IMO Assembly has agreed a programme to make this scheme mandatory, with the entry into force of the mandatory audit scheme likely to be in 2015. IMO has an extensive technical co-operation programme, which identifies needs among resource-shy Members and matches them to assistance, such as training.
More about IMO: http://www.imo.org/About/Pages/Default.aspx