International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Naval Response

No activity implemented or planned

No activity planned or implemented.

Industry Response

Ongoing activity
  • IMO has worked closely with industry to issue documents containing information, guidance and recommendations to governments, ship owners, ship masters and seafarers for preventing and suppressing armed robbery against ships. These documents can be found here.
  • In 2013, the IMO released Interim Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for protection against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region (link).
  • The IMO International Maritime Law Institute contributes to the development and dissemination of knowledge and expertise in international maritime law, with special reference to the international regulations and procedures for safety and efficiency of shipping.

Plight of Seafarers

Ongoing activity
  • IMO’s global campaign, entitled Day of the Seafarer, is held every year on June 25th.
  • The campaign seeks to increase awareness among the general public of the services seafarers render to international seaborne trade, the world economy and society at large.
  • Specifically, IMO seeks to redouble their efforts at the regulatory level to create a better, safer and more secure world in which seafarers can operate. (link)

Messaging and Advocacy

No activity implemented or planned

No activity planned or implemented.

Regional Capacity

Ongoing activity
  • IMO is involved in maritime security-related capacity building through the ITCP, as well as the West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund.
  • IMO has also developed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Establishment of a Sub-regional Integrated Coast Guard Network in West and Central Africa (link) to counter both piracy and armed robbery against ships. A full list of the critical measures to be implemented in order to achieve the objectives of the IMO/MOWCA MoU can be found in Annex A of its strategy for implementation.
  • As a result of table top exercises conducted by IMO, Ghana has revived its National Maritime Security Committee, and IMO has been working with the Liberia Maritime Authority to help it to operationalize its national maritime security strategy (link)
  • IMO’s other capacity building initiatives take place within the wider context of sustainable maritime security measures, described in the IMO’s 2014 strategy for enhancing maritime security in West and Central Africa (link). Notably, IMO’s work with the Code of Conduct, formally adopted in Yaoundé in June 2013, addresses the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in West and Central Africa.
  • IMO supports two regional information centres being established in West and Central African States. The 2014 Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre Gulf of Guinea project aims to establish an affordable, sustainable and enduring regional maritime information sharing centre within the Gulf of Guinea. Additionally, IMO is working with ECCAS, ECOWAS and GGC to establish the Inter-regional Coordination Centre (ICC) (link)

Rule of Law

Activity planned or in development
  • Listed as one of their critical measures of implementation (link), IMO will offer training and legal assistance in cooperation with the UNODC and other organizations. These efforts will enable countries to be able to effectively prosecute, in their domestic courts and in accordance with relevant domestic laws, perpetrators of all forms of piracy and unlawful acts against seafarers, ships, port facility personnel and port facilities.
  • IMO seeks to establish legal frameworks around national policies and enabling legislation for law enforcement detachments and ‘shipriders’, national legislation and procedures for seizure of assets, and national policies and enabling legislation for privately contracted armed security personnel PCASP operation. (see Annex D of IMO WCA strategy)


Ongoing activity
  • In every initiative, IMO works in close cooperation and coordination with other UN bodies, particularly United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the regional offices for Central Africa (UNOCA) and West Africa (UNOWA).
  • IMO also works in coordination with international partners such as INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO), and development partners such as Japan, France, US Africa Command, China, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Norway.
  • IMO supports developments led by the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) to make operational a regional maritime trade information sharing centre (MTISC) in Accra, Ghana. (link)
  • In July 2013, more than 60 participants from the 20 coastal Member States of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) joined international experts for a seminar on maritime and port security, held in Cotonou, Benin. This seminar was organized by IMO in conjunction with PMAWCA, and afforded participants an opportunity to exchange best practices and highlighted the importance of cross border cooperation. (link)
  • IMO recurrently issues reports on piracy and armed robbery incidents, which can be found here.