The international convention creating the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was adopted in 1948 in Geneva, but it was not until 1958 that the Organization officially began operating. The IMO held its first meeting the following year. It has a staff of only 300, making it one of the smallest agencies in the United Nations system. The Organization has 162 member states.
The IMO's mandate is to improve safety at sea and control marine pollution caused by ships. Its first order of business, which it carried out in 1960, was to adopt a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention), the primary instrument for marine safety. Since then, the Organization has focussed on a number of issues, including the facilitation of international maritime traffic, the transportation of hazardous goods and efforts to end unfair trade practices by shipping concerns.