States Urged To Accept Treaty Amendments To Expand IMO Council

Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are being urged to accept amendments to the IMO Convention as soon as possible – in order to expand the size of the IMO Council to 52, to reflect the increased membership of IMO.

The text of the amendments, which were adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, have now been circulated via the United Nations (C.N.46.2022), in the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish authentic languages.

The United Nations Secretary-General acts as depositary for the IMO Convention. The IMO Convention was adopted in 1948, establishing the IMO (the original names was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) – this was changed to IMO in 1982).

Amendments to IMO Convention Ready
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The amendments to the IMO Convention will expand the size of the Council to 52 Members from 40; extend the term of its Members to four years; and recognize three additional language texts as authentic versions of the IMO Convention.

The move to expand the Council reflects the increasing IMO membership over recent decades. It will support the attainment of a representative, balanced, diverse, and efficient Council, that can support the interests of the whole membership and ensures the representation of all the major geographic areas of the world.

The amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization require acceptance by two thirds of the IMO Membership, or 117 Member States (based on the current membership of 175 Member States) for entry into force.

The IMO Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Members of the Organization to accept the amendments as soon as possible, with the goal of entry into force of these amendments by 2025 (Resolution A.1172(32)).

Expansion of the Council

Upon entry into force of the amendments, the IMO Council will increase by 12 Member States, from its current 40 Members to 52. Expanding the size of the IMO Council would see 12 seats allocated to Categories (a) and (b) each and 28 seats to Category (c).

The categories are:

(a) – States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services

(b) – States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade each;

(c) – 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.

Member term length

Under the amendments, Council Members would remain in their roles until the end of the next two consecutive regular sessions of the Assembly, after which they would be eligible for re-election. Since Assemblies are usually held every two years, this would generally mean that Members would serve a four-year term.

Additional authentic languages

In the spirit of multilingualism embraced by the United Nations system, the IMO Assembly adopted an amendment to the IMO Convention, such that Arabic, Chinese and Russian, (which are already official languages of the Organization), will be added as authentic texts of the IMO Convention, supplementing the current authentic texts in English, French and Spanish.

Current Council Members

The list of current Council members can be found here.


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