The International Maritime Organization was set up on 17th of March 1958 and its headquarters are situated in London, United Kingdom. The IMO's primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes maritime safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

The IMO consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees. The organization is led by a Secretary-General. A number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees.

Recent initiatives at the IMO have included amendments to SOLAS, which among other things, included upgraded fire protection standards on passenger ships, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) which establishes basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers and to the Convention on the Prevention of Maritime Pollution (MARPOL 73/78), which required double hulls on all tankers.

The mission of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a United Nations specialized agency is to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation.