Formation of the International Hydrographic Bureau
International cooperation in the field of hydrography began with a Conference held in Washington in 1899, followed by two others in Saint Petersburg, in 1908 and 1912.
In 1919, 24 nations met in London for a Hydrographic Conference, during which it was decided that a permanent body should be created. The resulting International Hydrographic Bureau began its activity in 1921 with 19 Member States. At the invitation of H.S.H. Prince Albert I of Monaco, a noted marine scientist, the Bureau was provided with headquarters in the Principality of Monaco.
The IHB Changes its Status to an International Organization
In 1970, an intergovernmental Convention entered into force which changed the Organization's name and legal status, creating the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), with its headquarters (the IHB) permanently established in Monaco. The Organization currently has a membership of 85 maritime States, with several others in the process of becoming Members.
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is an intergovernmental consultative and technical organization that was established in 1921 to support the safety in navigation and the protection of the marine environment.
The object of the Organization is to bring about :
- The coordination of the activities of national hydrographic offices
- The greatest possible uniformity in nautical charts and documents
- The adoption of reliable and efficient methods of carrying out and exploiting hydrographic surveys
- The development of the sciences in the field of hydrography and the techniques employed in descriptive oceanography
The official representative of each Member Government within the IHO is normally the national Hydrographer, or Director of Hydrography, and these persons, together with their technical staff, meet at 5-yearly intervals in Monaco for an International Hydrographic Conference. The Conference reviews the progress achieved by the Organization and adopts the programmes to be pursued during the ensuing 5-year period. A Directing Committee of three senior hydrographers is elected to administer the work of the Bureau during that time.
This Directing Committee, together with a small international staff of technical experts in hydrography and nautical cartography, coordinates the technical programmes and provides advice and assistance to Member States. All Member States have an equal voice in arriving at agreed solutions to problems of standardization and in programming the work of the Bureau, whilst any Member may initiate new proposals for IHO consideration and adoption. Between Conferences such matters are normally accomplished by correspondence.
International Hydrographic Conference
The International Hydrographic Conference is composed of representatives of the Member Governments and is held in Monaco in ordinary session every five years. An extraordinary session of the Conference may be held at the request of a Member Government or of the Bureau. The Conference reviews the progress achieved by the Organization and adopts the programmes to be pursued during the ensuing 5-year period.
The objects of the Organization are the coordination of the activities of national hydrographic offices, the greatest possible uniformity in nautical charts and documents, the adoption of reliable and efficient methods of carrying out and exploiting hydrographic surveys and the development of the sciences in the field of hydrography and the techniques employed in descriptive oceanography.
The Directing Committee is composed of three members of different nationality elected by the Conference, which shall further elect one of them to fill the office of President of the Committee. The term of office of the Directing Committee shall be five years. If a post of director falls vacant during the period between two Conferences, a by-election may be held by correspondence as provided for in the General Regulations.
This Directing Committee, together with small international staffs of technical experts in hydrography and nautical cartography, coordinates the technical programmes and provides advice and assistance to Member States.