The Concept of an Intergovernmental Organization
The existing structure of IMO was confirmed at the Copenhagen meeting – a Conference of Directors, an International Meteorological Committee, an Executive Council, Technical Commissions and a Secretariat. Further consideration of the status of IMO in Copenhagen led, however, to the adoption of a resolution, which moved that official recognition of the Organization by governments was desirable. The possibility of IMO becoming an inter-governmental body had at long last been agreed.
The question of an International Meteorological Bureau was a major item on the agenda for the meeting of the Conference of Directors in Warsaw in 1935, which some consider the most important meeting of the directors between the two world wars. A decision was made that invitations to future meetings of the Conference of Directors would be sent to governments – and these invitations would ask governments to designate directors of their national meteorological services to represent them at the meetings and to vote on their behalf.
An important decision made at the Warsaw meeting in 1935 was that regional commissions be established, their function being to ensure better implementation of IMO resolutions in distant parts of the world. The first to be created were the Regional Commissions for Africa and the Far East and they were followed, in 1937, by three more, the Regional Commissions for North and Central America, South America and the South-west Pacific. With the formation of these commissions, IMO’s tendency towards Euro-centricity was much reduced. In fact, a Regional Commission for Europe was the last to be formed, in 1946.
Another important decision made at the Warsaw meeting was that IMO’s Commission for the Application of Meteorology to Aerial Navigation be replaced by a Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology, whose members were appointed by governments. The consequence of this was that relations between IMO and the International Commission for Aerial Navigation improved greatly, but an abnormal situation was also created because, as Dr Hesselberg pointed out at the Berlin meeting in 1939, the new commission had a more official status than IMO itself. To him, this was a further reason why IMO should have inter-governmental status.
Draft of World Meteorological Convention
At the Warsaw meeting, Dr Theodor Hesselberg of the Norwegian Meteorological Service succeeded Dr van Everdingen as President of the International Meteorological Committee. He was very much an advocate of an improved international status for meteorology and very keen that IMO be transformed into an inter-governmental agency. Together with the Director of the French Meteorological Service, Monsieur Philippe Wehrlé, he built upon the decision made at Warsaw by drafting a World Meteorological Convention, which, if accepted by governments, would secure official status for IMO. When presenting this draft to the International Meteorological Committee at its meeting in Berlin in 1939, he pointed out a number of benefits of a changed status for IMO. In particular, he considered it desirable that governments should have a greater influence on the work of the Organization, given the steadily increasing practical importance of meteorology. He considered, too, that the Organization must be able to rely on adequate resources, so that efficient co-operation should not be hampered by financial difficulties. Moreover, he believed that governments should have greater control over the choice of representatives from their countries.
The International Meteorological Committee revised the draft Convention article by article and then referred what has come to be known as the Berlin Draft to the Commission for the Study of the Draft of the Convention, a commission which the Committee created at their Berlin meeting. The intention was that this commission would refine and polish the draft and produce a definitive version for consideration at a meeting of the Conference of Directors in Washington DC in 1941. In the event, the Second World War intervened. Very little progress was possible before 1946.