The International Ocean Institute was founded in 1972 by Professor Elisabeth Mann Borgese as an international knowledge-based institution, devoted to the sustainable governance of the oceans. It operates through a large network of national institutions, with its Headquarters hosted by the Government of Malta at the University premises and supported by the Ocean Science and Research Foundation (OSRF). Its functions and activities are capacity development, research, policy analysis, advocacy, dissemination of information, training and education, project implementation and promotion of peaceful use of the ocean.
Its establishment was a milestone in the struggle to promote the peaceful and sustainable uses of ocean space and coasts as well as the management and conservation of the ocean and its resources so that future generations can share in their benefits.
As an International non-governmental body with special consultative status at the United Nations, the International Ocean Institute works to uphold and expand the principle of the common heritage as enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.