on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
(London, Mexico City, Moscow, Washington,
29 December 1972)
THE CONTRACTING PARTIES TO THIS CONVENTION,
RECOGNIZING that the marine environment
and the living organisms which it supports are of vital importance to humanity,
and all people have an interest in assuring that it is so managed that
its quality and resources are not impaired;
RECOGNIZING that the capacity of the
sea to assimilate wastes and render them harmless, and its ability to regenerate
natural resources, is not unlimited;
RECOGNIZING that States have, in accordance
with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international
law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their
own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities
within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment
of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
RECALLING Resolution 2749(XXV) of the
General Assembly of the United Nations on the principles governing the
sea-bed and the ocean floor and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits
of national jurisdiction;
NOTING that marine pollution originates
in many sources, such as dumping and discharges through the atmosphere,
rivers, estuaries, outfalls and pipelines, and that it is important that
States use the best practicable means to prevent such pollution and develop
products and processes which will reduce the amount of harmful wastes to
be disposed of;
BEING CONVINCED that international
action to control the pollution of the sea by dumping can and must be taken
without delay but that this action should not preclude discussion of measures
to control other sources of marine pollution as soon as possible; and
WISHING to improve protection of the
marine environment by encouraging States with a common interest in particular
geographical areas to enter into appropriate agreements supplementary to
HAVE AGREED as follows:
Contracting Parties shall individually and
collectively promote the effective control of all sources of pollution
of the marine environment, and pledge themselves especially to take all
practicable steps to prevent the pollution of the sea by the dumping of
waste and other matter that is liable to create hazards to human health,
to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere
with other legitimate uses of the sea.
Contracting Parties shall, as provided for
in the following Articles, take effective measures individually, according
to their scientific, technical and economic capabilities, and collectively,
to prevent marine pollution caused by dumping and shall harmonize their
policies in this regard.
For the purposes of this Convention:
1. (a) "Dumping" means:
(i) any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes
or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures
(ii) any deliberate disposal at sea of vessels,
aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea.
(b) "Dumping" does not include:
(i) the disposal at sea of wastes or other
matter incidental to, or derived from the normal operations of vessels,
aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea and their equipment,
other than wastes or other matter transported by or to vessels, aircraft,
platforms or other man-made structures at sea, operating for the purpose
of disposal of such matter or derived from the treatment of such wastes
or other matter on such vessels, aircraft, platforms or structures;
(ii) placement of matter for a purpose other
than the mere disposal thereof, provided that such placement is not contrary
to the aims of this Convention.
(c) The disposal of wastes or other matter
directly arising from, or related to the exploration, exploitation and
associated off-shore processing of sea-bed mineral resources will not be
covered by the provisions of this Convention.
2. "Vessels and aircraft" means waterborne
or airborne craft of any type whatsoever. This expression includes air
cushioned craft and floating craft, whether self-propelled or not.
3. "Sea" means all marine waters other than
the internal waters of States.
4. "Wastes or other matter" means material
and substance of any kind, form or description.
5. "Special permit" means permission granted
specifically on application in advance and in accordance with Annex II
and Annex III.
6. "General permit" means permission granted
in advance and in accordance with Annex III.
7. "The Organisation" means the Organisation
designated by the Contracting Parties in accordance with Article XIV(2).
1. In accordance with the provisions of this
Convention Contracting Parties shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes
or other matter in whatever form or condition except as otherwise specified
(a) the dumping of wastes or other matter
listed in Annex I is prohibited;
(b) the dumping of wastes or other matter
listed in Annex II requires a prior special permit;
(c) the dumping of all other wastes or matter
requires a prior general permit.
2. Any permit shall be issued only after careful
consideration of all the factors set forth in Annex III, including prior
studies of the characteristics of the dumping site, as set forth in Sections
B and C of that Annex.
3. No provision of this Convention is to be
interpreted as preventing a Contracting Party from prohibiting, insofar
as that Party is concerned, the dumping of wastes or other matter not mentioned
in Annex I. That Party shall notify such measures to the Organisation.
1. The provisions of Article IV shall not
apply when it is necessary to secure the safety of human life or of vessels,
aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea in cases of force
majeure caused by stress of weather, or in any case which constitutes
a danger to human life or a real threat to vessels, aircraft, platforms
or other man-made structures at sea, if dumping appears to be the only
way of averting the threat and if there is every probability that the damage
consequent upon such dumping will be less than would otherwise occur. Such
dumping shall be so conducted as to minimise the likelihood of damage to
human or marine life and shall be reported forthwith to the Organisation.
2. A Contracting Party may issue a special
permit as an exception to Article IV(1)(a), in emergencies, posing unacceptable
risk relating to human health and admitting no other feasible solution.
Before doing so the Party shall consult any other country or countries
that are likely to be affected and the organisation which, after consulting
other Parties, and international organisations as appropriate, shall, in
accordance with Article XIV promptly recommend to the Party the most appropriate
procedures to adopt. The Party shall follow these recommendations to the
maximum extent feasible consistent with the time within which action must
be taken and with the general obligation to avoid damage to the marine
environment and shall inform the Organisation of the action it takes. The
Parties pledge themselves to assist one another in such situations.
3. Any Contracting Party may waive its rights
under paragraph (2) at the time of, or subsequent to ratification of, or
accession to this Convention.
1. Each Contracting Party shall designate
an appropriate authority or authorities to:
(a) issue special permits which shall be required
prior to, and for, the dumping of matter listed in Annex II and in the
circumstances provided for in Article V(2);
(b) issue general permits which shall be required
prior to, and for, the dumping of all other matter;
(c) keep records of the nature and quantities
of all matter permitted to be dumped and the location, time and method
(d) monitor individually, or in collaboration
with other Parties and competent international organisations, the condition
of the seas for the purposes of this Convention.
2. The appropriate authority or authorities
of a Contracting Party shall issue prior special or general permits in
accordance with paragraph (1) in respect of matter intended for dumping:
(a) loaded in its territory;
(b) loaded by a vessel or aircraft registered
in its territory or flying its flag, when the loading occurs in the territory
of a State not party to this Convention.
3. In issuing permits under sub-paragraphs
(1)(a) and (b) above, the appropriate authority or authorities shall comply
with Annex III, together with such additional criteria, measures and requirements
as they may consider relevant.
4. Each Contracting Party, directly or through
a Secretariat established under a regional agreement, shall report to the
Organisation, and where appropriate to other Parties, the information specified
in sub-paragraphs (c) and (d) of paragraph (1) above, and the criteria,
measures and requirements it adopts in accordance with paragraph (3) above.
The procedure to be followed and the nature of such reports shall be agreed
by the Parties in consultation.
1. Each Contracting Party shall apply the
measures required to implement the present Convention to all:
(a) vessels and aircraft registered in its
territory or flying its flag;
(b) vessels and aircraft loading in its territory
or territorial seas matter which is to be dumped;
(c) vessels and aircraft and fixed or floating
platforms under its jurisdiction believed to be engaged in dumping.
2. Each Party shall take in its territory
appropriate measures to prevent and punish conduct in contravention of
the provisions of this Convention.
3. The Parties agree to co-operate in the
development of procedures for the effective application of this Convention
particularly on the high seas, including procedures for the reporting of
vessels and aircraft observed dumping in contravention of the Convention.
4. This Convention shall not apply to those
vessels and aircraft entitled to sovereign immunity under international
law. However each Party shall ensure by the adoption of appropriate measures
that such vessels and aircraft owned or operated by it act in a manner
consistent with the object and purpose of this Convention, and shall inform
the Organisation accordingly.
5. Nothing in this Convention shall affect
the right of each Party to adopt other measures, in accordance with the
principles of international law, to prevent dumping at sea.
In order to further the objectives of this
Convention, the Contracting Parties with common interests to protect in
the marine environment in a given geographical area shall endeavour, taking
into account characteristic regional features, to enter into regional agreements
consistent with this Convention for the prevention of pollution, especially
by dumping. The Contracting Parties to the present Convention shall endeavour
to act consistently with the objectives and provisions of such regional
agreements, which shall be notified to them by the Organisation. Contracting
Parties shall seek to co-operate with the Parties to regional agreements
in order to develop harmonized procedures to be followed by Contracting
Parties to the different conventions concerned. Special attention shall
be given to co-operation in the field of monitoring and scientific research.
The Contracting Parties shall promote, through
collaboration within the Organisation and other international bodies, support
for those Parties which request it for:
(a) the training of scientific and technical
(b) the supply of necessary equipment and
facilities for research and monitoring;
(c) the disposal and treatment of waste and
other measures to prevent or mitigate pollution caused by dumping;
preferably within the countries concerned,
so furthering the aims and purposes of this Convention.
In accordance with the principles of international
law regarding State responsibility for damage to the environment of the
other States or to any other area of the environment, caused by dumping
of wastes and other matter of all kinds, the Contracting Parties undertake
to develop procedures for the assessment of liability and the settlement
of disputes regarding dumping.
The Contracting Parties shall at their first
consultative meeting consider procedures for the settlement of disputes
concerning the interpretation and application of this Convention.
The Contracting Parties pledge themselves
to promote, within the competent specialised agencies and other international
bodies, measures to protect the marine environment against pollution caused
(a) hydrocarbons, including oil, and their
(b) other noxious or hazardous matter transported
by vessels for purposes other than dumping;
(c) wastes generated in the course of operation
of vessels, aircraft, platforms and other man-made structures at sea;
(d) radio-active pollutants from all sources,
(e) agents of chemical and biological warfare;
(f) wastes or other matter directly arising
from, or related to the exploration, exploitation and associated off-shore
processing of sea-bed mineral resources.
The Parties will also promote, within the
appropriate international organisation, the codification of signals to
be used by vessels engaged in dumping.
Nothing in this Convention shall prejudice
the codification and development of the law of the sea by the United Nations
Conference on the Law of the Sea convened pursuant to Resolution 2750C(XXV)
of the General Assembly of the United Nations nor the present or future
claims and legal views of any State concerning the law of the sea and the
nature and extent of coastal and flag State jurisdiction. The Contracting
Parties agree to consult at a meeting to be convened by the Organisation
after the Law of the Sea Conference, and in any case not later than 1976,
with a view to defining the nature and extent of the right and the responsibility
of a coastal State to apply the Convention in a zone adjacent to its coast.
1. The Government of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain an Northern Ireland as a depositary shall call a meeting
of the Contracting Parties not later than three months after the entry
into force of this Convention to decide on organisational matters.
2. The Contracting Parties shall designate
a competent Organisation existing at the time of that meeting to be responsible
for Secretariat duties in relation to this Convention. Any Party to this
Convention not being a member of this Organisation shall make an appropriate
contribution to the expenses incurred by the Organisation in performing
3. The Secretariat duties of the Organisation
(a) the convening of consultative meetings
of the Contracting Parties not less frequently than once every two years
and of special meetings of the Parties at any time on the request of two-thirds
of the Parties;
(b) preparing and assisting, in consultation
with the Contracting Parties and appropriate International Organisations,
in the development and implementation of procedures referred to in sub-paragraph
(4)(e) of this Article;
(c) considering enquiries by, and information
from the Contracting Parties, consulting with them and with the appropriate
International Organisations, and providing recommendations to the Parties
on questions related to, but not specifically covered by the Convention;
(d) conveying to the Parties concerned all
notifications received by the Organisation in accordance with Articles
IV(3), V(1) and (2), VI(4), XV, XX and XXI.
Prior to the designation of the Organisation
these functions shall, as necessary, be performed by the depositary, who
for this purpose shall be the Government of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland.
4. Consultative or special meetings of the
Contracting Parties shall keep under continuing review the implementation
of this Convention and may, inter alia:
(a) review and adopt amendments to this Convention
and its Annexes in accordance with Article XV;
(b) invite the appropriate scientific body
or bodies to collaborate with and to advise the Parties or the Organisations
on any scientific or technical aspect relevant to this Convention, including
particularly the content of the Annexes;
(c) receive and consider reports made pursuant
to Article VI(4);
(d) promote co-operation with and between
regional organisations concerned with the prevention of marine pollution;
(e) develop or adopt, in consultation with
appropriate International Organisations, procedures referred to in Article
V(2), including basic criteria for determining exceptional and emergency
situations, and procedures for consultative advice and the safe disposal
of matter in such circumstances, including the designation of appropriate
dumping areas, and recommend accordingly;
(f) consider any additional action that may
5. The Contracting Parties at their first
consultative meeting shall establish rules of procedure as necessary.
1. (a) At meetings of the Contracting Parties
called in accordance with Article XIV amendments to this Convention may
be adopted by a two-thirds majority of those present. An amendment shall
enter into force for the Parties which have accepted it on the sixtieth
day after two-thirds of the Parties shall have deposited an instrument
of acceptance of the amendment with the Organisation. Thereafter the amendment
shall enter into force for any other Party 30 days after that Party deposits
its instrument of acceptance of the amendment.
(b) The Organisation shall inform all Contracting
Parties of any request made for a special meeting under Article XIV and
of any amendments adopted at meetings of the Parties and of the date on
which each such amendment enters into force for each Party.
2. Amendments to the Annexes will be based
on scientific or technical considerations. Amendments to the Annexes approved
by a two-thirds majority of those present at a meeting called in accordance
with Article XIV shall enter into force for each Contracting Party immediately
on notification of its acceptance to the Organisation and 100 days after
approval by the meeting for all other Parties except for those which before
the end of the 100 days make a declaration that they are not able to accept
the amendment at that time. Parties should endeavour to signify their acceptance
of an amendment to the Organisation as soon as possible after approval
at a meeting. A Party may at any time substitute an acceptance for a previous
declaration of objection and the amendment previously objected to shall
thereupon enter into force for that Party.
3. An acceptance or declaration of objection
under this Article shall be made by the deposit of an instrument with the
Organisation. The Organisation shall notify all Contracting Parties of
the receipt of such instruments.
4. Prior to the designation of the Organisation,
the Secretarial functions herein attributed to it, shall be performed temporarily
by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
as one of the depositaries of this Convention.
This Convention shall be open for signature
by any State at London, Mexico City, Moscow and Washington from 29 December
1972 until 31 December 1973.
This Convention shall be subject to ratification.
The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Governments
of Mexico, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.
After 31 December 1973, this Convention shall
be open for accession by any State. The instruments of accession shall
be deposited with the Governments of Mexico, the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and
the United States of America.
1. This Convention shall enter into force
on the thirtieth day following the date of deposit of the fifteenth instrument
of ratification or accession.
2. For each Contracting Party ratifying or
acceding to the Convention after the deposit of the fifteenth instrument
of ratification or accession, the Convention shall enter into force on
the thirtieth day after deposit by such Party of its instrument of ratification
The depositaries shall inform Contracting
(a) of signatures to this Convention and of
the deposit of instruments of ratification, accession or withdrawal, in
accordance with Articles XVI, XVII, XVIII and XXI, and
(b) of the date on which this Convention will
enter into force, in accordance with Article XIX.
Any Contracting Party may withdraw from this
Convention by giving six months' notice in writing to a depositary, which
shall promptly inform all Parties of such notice.
The original of this Convention of which the
English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall
be deposited with the Governments of Mexico, the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and
the United States of America who shall send certified copies thereof to
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned
Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorised thereto by their respective Governments
have signed the present Convention.
DONE in quadruplicate at London, Mexico
City, Moscow and Washington, this twenty-ninth day of December 1972.
1. Organohalogen compounds.
2. Mercury and mercury compounds.
3. Cadmium and cadmium compounds.
4. Persistent plastics and other persistent
synthetic materials, for example, netting and ropes, which may float or
may remain in suspension in the sea in such a manner as to interfere materially
with fishing, navigation or other legitimate uses of the sea.
5. Crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil,
and lubricating oils, hydraulic fluids, and any mixtures containing any
of these, taken on board for the purpose of dumping.
6. High-level radio-active wastes or other
high-level radio-active matter, defined on public health, biological or
other grounds, by the competent international body in this field, at present
the International Atomic Energy Agency, as unsuitable for dumping at sea.
7. Materials in whatever form (e.g. solids,
liquids, semi-liquids, gases or in a living state) produced for biological
and chemical warfare.
8. The preceding paragraphs of this Annex
do not apply to substances which are rapidly rendered harmless by physical,
chemical or biological processes in the sea provided they do not:
(i) make edible marine organisms unpalatable,
(ii) endanger human health or that of domestic
The consultative procedure provided for under
Article XIV should be followed by a Party if there is doubt about the harmlessness
of the substance.
9. This Annex does not apply to wastes or
other materials (e.g. sewage sludges and dredged spoils) containing the
matters referred to in paragraphs 1-5 above as trace contaminants. Such
wastes shall be subject to the provisions of Annexes II and III as appropriate.
The following substances and materials requiring
special care are listed for the purposes of Article VI(1)(a).
A. Wastes containing significant amounts of
the matters listed below:
copper } and their compounds
pesticides and their by-products not covered
in Annex 1
B. In the issue of permits for the dumping
of large quantities of acids and alkalis, consideration shall be given
to the possible presence in such wastes of the substances listed in paragraph
A and to the following additional substances:
nickel } and their compounds
C. Containers, scrap metal and other bulky
wastes liable to sink to the sea bottom which may present a serious obstacle
to fishing or navigation.
D. Radio-active wastes or other radio-active
matter not included in Annex I. In the issue of permits for the dumping
of this matter, the Contracting Parties should take full account of the
recommendations of the competent international body in this field, at present
the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Provisions to be considered in establishing
criteria governing the issue of permits for the dumping of matter at sea,
taking into account Article IV(2), include:
A - Characteristics and composition of the
1. Total amount and average composition of
matter dumped (e.g. per year).
2. Form, e.g. solid, sludge, liquid, or gaseous.
3. Properties: physical (e.g. solubility and
density), chemical and biochemical (e.g. oxygen demand, nutrients) and
biological (e.g. presence of viruses, bacteria, yeasts, parasites).
5. Persistence: physical, chemical and biological.
6. Accumulation and biotransformation in biological
materials or sediments.
7. Susceptibility to physical, chemical and
biochemical changes and interaction in the aquatic environment with other
dissolved organic and inorganic materials.
8. Probability of production of taints or
other changes reducing marketability of resources (fish, shellfish, etc.).
B - Characteristics of dumping site and method
1. Location (e.g. coordinates of the dumping
area, depth and distance from the coast), location in relation to other
areas (e.g. amenity areas, spawning, nursery and fishing areas and exploitable
2. Rate of disposal per specific period (e.g.
quantity per day, per week, per month).
3. Methods of packaging and containment, if
4. Initial dilution achieved by proposed method
5. Dispersal characteristics (e.g. effects
of currents, tides and wind on horizontal transport and vertical mixing).
6. Water characteristics (e.g. temperature,
pH, salinity, stratification, oxygen indices of pollution - dissolved oxygen
(DO), chemical oxygen demand (COD), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) - nitrogen
present in organic and mineral form including ammonia, suspended matter,
other nutrients and productivity).
7. Bottom characteristics (e.g. topography,
geochemical and geological characteristics and biological productivity).
8. Existence and effects of other dumpings
which have been made in the dumping area (e.g. heavy metal background reading
and organic carbon content).
9. In issuing a permit for dumping, Contracting
Parties should consider whether an adequate scientific basis exists for
assessing the consequences of such dumping, as outlined in this Annex,
taking into account seasonal variations.
C - General considerations and conditions
1. Possible effects on amenities (e.g. presence
of floating or stranded material, turbidity, objectionable odour, discolouration
2. Possible effects on marine life, fish and
shellfish culture, fish stocks and fisheries, seaweed harvesting and culture.
3. Possible effects on other uses of the sea
(e.g. impairment of water quality for industrial use, underwater corrosion
of structures, interference with ship operations from floating materials,
interference with fishing or navigation through deposit of waste or solid
objects on the sea floor and protection of areas of special importance
for scientific or conservation purposes).
4. The practical availability of alternative
land-based methods of treatment, disposal or elimination, or of treatment
to render the matter less harmful for dumping at sea.