on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-Operation, 1990
(London, 30 November 1990)
THE PARTIES TO THE PRESENT CONVENTION,
CONSCIOUS of the need to preserve the
human environment in general and the marine environment in particular,
RECOGNIZING the serious threat posed
to the marine environment by oil pollution incidents involving ships, offshore
units, sea ports and oil handling facilities,
MINDFUL of the importance of precautionary
measures and prevention in avoiding oil pollution in the first instance,
and the need for strict application of existing international instruments
dealing with maritime safety and marine pollution prevention, particularly
the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974,as amended,
and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships,
1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, as amended,
and also the speedy development of enhanced standards for the design, operation
and maintenance of ships carrying oil, and of offshore units,
MINDFUL ALSO that, in the event of
an oil pollution incident, prompt and effective action is essential in
order to minimize the damage which may result from such an incident,
EMPHASIZING the importance of effective
preparation for combating oil pollution incidents and the important role
which the oil and shipping industries have in this regard,
RECOGNIZING FURTHER the importance
of mutual assistance and international co-operation relating to matters
including the exchange of information respecting the capabilities of States
to respond to oil pollution incidents, the preparation of oil pollution
contingency plans, the exchange of reports of incidents of significance
which may affect the marine environment or the coastline and related interests
of States, and research and development respecting means of combating oil
pollution in the marine environment,
TAKING ACCOUNT of the "polluter pays"
principle as a general principle of international environmental law,
TAKING ACCOUNT ALSO of the importance
of international instruments on liability and compensation for oil pollution
damage, including the 1969 International Convention on Civil Liability
for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC); and the 1971 International Convention on
the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution
Damage (FUND); and the compelling need for early entry into force of the
1984 Protocols to the CLC and FUND Conventions,
TAKING ACCOUNT FURTHER of the importance
of bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements including regional
conventions and agreements,
BEARING IN MIND the relevant provisions
of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in particular of
its part XII,
BEING AWARE of the need to promote
international co-operation and to enhance existing national, regional and
global capabilities concerning oil pollution preparedness and response,
taking into account the special needs of the developing countries and particularly
small island States,
CONSIDERING that these objectives may
best be achieved by the conclusion of an International Convention on Oil
Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
(1) Parties undertake, individually or jointly,
to take all appropriate measures in accordance with the provisions of this
Convention and the Annex thereto to prepare for and respond to an oil pollution
(2) The Annex to this Convention shall constitute
an integral part of the Convention and a reference to this Convention constitutes
at the same time a reference to the Annex.
(3) This Convention shall not apply to any
warship, naval auxiliary or other ship owned or operated by a State and
used, for the time being, only on government non-commercial service. However,
each Party shall ensure by the adoption of appropriate measures not impairing
the operations or operational capabilities of such ships owned or operated
by it, that such ships act in a manner consistent, so far as is reasonable
and practicable, with this Convention.
For the purposes of this Convention:
(1) "Oil" means petroleum in any form including
crude oil, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse and refined products.
(2) "Oil pollution incident" means an occurrence
or series of occurrences having the same origin, which results or may result
in a discharge of oil and which poses or may pose a threat to the marine
environment, or to the coastline or related interests of one or more States,
and which requires emergency action or other immediate response.
(3) "Ship" means a vessel of any type whatsoever
operating in the marine environment and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion
vehicles, submersibles, and floating craft of any type.
(4) "Offshore unit" means any fixed or floating
offshore installation or structure engaged in gas or oil exploration, exploitation
or production activities, or loading or unloading of oil.
(5) "Sea ports and oil handling facilities"
means those facilities which present a risk of an oil pollution incident
and includes, inter alia, sea ports, oil terminals, pipelines and other
oil handling facilities.
(6) "Organization" means the International
(7) "Secretary-General" means the Secretary-General
of the Organization.
Oil pollution emergency plans
(1) (a) Each Party shall require that ships
entitled to fly its flag have on board a shipboard oil pollution emergency
plan as required by and in accordance with the provisions adopted by the
Organization for this purpose.
(b) A ship required to have on board an oil
pollution emergency plan in accordance with subparagraph (a) is subject,
while in a port or at an offshore terminal under the jurisdiction of a
Party, to inspection by officers duly authorized by that Party, in accordance
with the practices provided for in existing international agreements or
its national legislation.
(2) Each Party shall require that operators
of offshore units under its jurisdiction have oil pollution emergency plans,
which are co-ordinated with the national system established in accordance
with article 6 and approved in accordance with procedures established by
the competent national authority.
(3) Each Party shall require that authorities
or operators in charge of such sea ports and oil handling facilities under
its jurisdiction as it deems appropriate have oil pollution emergency plans
or similar arrangements which are co-ordinated with the national system
established in accordance with article 6 and approved in accordance with
procedures established by the competent national authority.
Oil pollution reporting procedures
(1) Each Party shall:
(a) require masters or other persons having
charge of ships flying its flag and persons having charge of offshore units
under its jurisdiction to report without delay any event on their ship
or offshore unit involving a discharge or probable discharge of oil:
(i) in the case of a ship, to the nearest
(ii) in the case of an offshore unit, to the
coastal State to whose jurisdiction the unit is subject;
(b) require masters or other persons having
charge of ships flying its flag and persons having charge of offshore units
under its jurisdiction to report without delay any observed event at sea
involving a discharge of oil or the presence of oil:
(i) in the case of a ship, to the nearest
(ii) in the case of an offshore unit, to the
coastal State to whose jurisdiction the unit is subject;
(c) require persons having charge of sea ports
and oil handling facilities under its jurisdiction to report without delay
any event involving a discharge or probable discharge of oil or the presence
of oil to the competent national authority;
(d) instruct its maritime inspection vessels
or aircraft and other appropriate services or officials to report without
delay any observed event at sea or at a sea port or oil handling facility
involving a discharge of oil or the presence of oil to the competent national
authority or, as the case may be, to the nearest coastal State;
(e) request the pilots of civil aircraft to
report without delay any observed event at sea involving a discharge of
oil or the presence of oil to the nearest coastal State.
(2) Reports under paragraph (1)(a)(i) shall
be made in accordance with the requirements developed by the Organization
and based on the guidelines and general principles adopted by the Organization.
Reports under paragraph (1)(a)(ii), (b), (c) and (d) shall be made in accordance
with the guidelines and general principles adopted by the Organization
to the extent applicable.9
Action on receiving an oil pollution report
(1) Whenever a Party receives a report referred
to in article 4 or pollution information provided by other sources, it
(a) assess the event to determine whether
it is an oil pollution incident;
(b) assess the nature, extent and possible
consequences of the oil pollution incident; and
(c) then, without delay, inform all States
whose interests are affected or likely to be affected by such oil pollution
incident, together with
(i) details of its assessments and any action
it has taken, or intends to take, to deal with the incident, and
(ii) further information as appropriate,
until the action taken to respond to the incident
has been concluded or until joint action has been decided by such States.
(2) When the severity of such oil pollution
incident so justifies, the Party should provide the Organization directly
or, as appropriate, through the relevant regional organization or arrangements
with the information referred to in paragraph (1)(b) and (c).
(3) When the severity of such oil pollution
incident so justifies, other States affected by it are urged to inform
the Organization directly or, as appropriate, through the relevant regional
organizations or arrangements of their assessment of the extent of the
threat to their interests and any action taken or intended.
(4) Parties should use, in so far as practicable,
the oil pollution reporting system developed by the Organization when exchanging
information and communicating with other States and with the Organization.
National and regional systems for preparedness
(1) Each Party shall establish a national
system for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents.
This system shall include as a minimum:
(a) the designation of:
(i) the competent national authority or authorities
with responsibility for oil pollution preparedness and response;
(ii) the national operational contact point
or points, which shall be responsible for the receipt and transmission
of oil pollution reports as referred to in article 4; and
(iii) an authority which is entitled to act
on behalf of the State to request assistance or to decide to render the
(b) a national contingency plan for preparedness
and response which includes the organizational relationship of the various
bodies involved, whether public or private, taking into account guidelines
developed by the Organization.
(2) In addition, each Party, within its capabilities
either individually or through bilateral or multilateral co-operation and,
as appropriate, in co-operation with the oil and shipping industries, port
authorities and other relevant entities, shall establish:
(a) a minimum level of pre-positioned oil
spill combating equipment, commensurate with the risk involved, and programmes
for its use;
(b) a programme of exercises for oil pollution
response organizations and training of relevant personnel;
(c) detailed plans and communication capabilities
for responding to an oil pollution incident. Such capabilities should be
continuously available; and
(d) a mechanism or arrangement to co-ordinate
the response to an oil pollution incident with, if appropriate, the capabilities
to mobilize the necessary resources.
(3) Each Party shall ensure that current information
is provided to the Organization, directly or through the relevant regional
organization or arrangements, concerning:
(a) the location, telecommunication data and,
if applicable, areas of responsibility of authorities and entities referred
to in paragraph (1)(a);
(b) information concerning pollution response
equipment and expertise in disciplines related to oil pollution response
and marine salvage which may be made available to other States, upon request;
(c) its national contingency plan.
International co-operation in pollution response
(1) Parties agree that, subject to their capabilities
and the availability of relevant resources, they will co-operate and provide
advisory services, technical support and equipment for the purpose of responding
to an oil pollution incident, when the severity of such incident so justifies,
upon the request of any Party affected or likely to be affected. The financing
of the costs for such assistance shall be based on the provisions set out
in the Annex to this Convention.
(2) A Party which has requested assistance
may ask the Organization to assist in identifying sources of provisional
financing of the costs referred to in paragraph (1).
(3) In accordance with applicable international
agreements, each Party shall take necessary legal or administrative measures
(a) the arrival and utilization in and departure
from its territory of ships, aircraft and other modes of transport engaged
in responding to an oil pollution incident or transporting personnel, cargoes,
materials and equipment required to deal with such an incident; and
(b) the expeditious movement into, through,
and out of its territory of personnel, cargoes, materials and equipment
referred to in subparagraph (a).
Research and development
(1) Parties agree to co-operate directly or,
as appropriate, through the Organization or relevant regional organizations
or arrangements in the promotion and exchange of results of research and
development programmes relating to the enhancement of the state-of-the-art
of oil pollution preparedness and response, including technologies and
techniques for surveillance, containment, recovery, dispersion, clean-up
and otherwise minimizing or mitigating the effects of oil pollution, and
(2) To this end, Parties undertake to establish
directly or, as appropriate, through the Organization or relevant regional
organizations or arrangements, the necessary links between Parties' research
(3) Parties agree to co-operate directly or
through the Organization or relevant regional organizations or arrangements
to promote, as appropriate, the holding on a regular basis of international
symposia on relevant subjects, including technological advances in oil
pollution combating techniques and equipment.
(4) Parties agree to encourage, through the
Organization or other competent international organizations, the development
of standards for compatible oil pollution combating techniques and equipment.
(1) Parties undertake directly or through
the Organization and other international bodies, as appropriate, in respect
of oil pollution preparedness and response, to provide support for those
Parties which request technical assistance:
(a) to train personnel;
(b) to ensure the availability of relevant
technology, equipment and facilities;
(c) to facilitate other measures and arrangements
to prepare for and respond to oil pollution incidents; and
(d) to initiate joint research and development
(2) Parties undertake to co-operate actively,
subject to their national laws, regulations and policies, in the transfer
of technology in respect of oil pollution preparedness and response.
Promotion of bilateral and multilateral co-operation
in preparedness and response
Parties shall endeavour to conclude bilateral
or multilateral agreements for oil pollution preparedness and response.
Copies of such agreements shall be communicated to the Organization which
should make them available on request to Parties.
Relation to other conventions and international
Nothing in this Convention shall be construed
as altering the rights or obligations of any Party under any other convention
or international agreement.
(1) Parties designate the Organization, subject
to its agreement and the availability of adequate resources to sustain
the activity, to perform the following functions and activities:
(a) information services:
(i) to receive, collate and disseminate on
request the information provided by Parties (see, for example, articles
5(2) and (3), 6(3) and 10) and relevant information provided by other sources;
(ii) to provide assistance in identifying
sources of provisional financing of costs (see, for example, article 7(2));
(b) education and training:
(i) to promote training in the field of oil
pollution preparedness and response (see, for example, article 9); and
(ii) to promote the holding of international
symposia (see, for example, article 8(3));
(c) technical services:
(i) to facilitate co-operation in research
and development (see, for example, articles 8(1), (2) and (4) and 9(1)(d));
(ii) to provide advice to States establishing
national or regional response capabilities; and
(iii) to analyse the information provided
by Parties (see, for example, articles 5(2) and (3), 6(3) and 8(1)) and
relevant information provided by other sources and provide advice or information
(d) technical assistance:
(i) to facilitate the provision of technical
assistance to States establishing national or regional response capabilities;
(ii) to facilitate the provision of technical
assistance and advice, upon the request of States faced with major oil
(2) In carrying out the activities specified
in this article, the Organization shall endeavour to strengthen the ability
of States individually or through regional arrangements to prepare for
and combat oil pollution incidents, drawing upon the experience of States,
regional agreements and industry arrangements and paying particular attention
to the needs of developing countries.
(3) The provisions of this article shall be
implemented in accordance with a programme developed and kept under review
by the Organization.
Evaluation of the Convention
Parties shall evaluate within the Organization
the effectiveness of the Convention in the light of its objectives, particularly
with respect to the principles underlying co-operation and assistance.
(1) This Convention may be amended by one
of the procedures specified in the following paragraphs.
(2) Amendment after consideration by the Organization:
(a) Any amendment proposed by a Party to the
Convention shall be submitted to the Organization and circulated by the
Secretary-General to all Members of the Organization and all Parties at
least six months prior to its consideration.
(b) Any amendment proposed and circulated
as above shall be submitted to the Marine Environment Protection Committee
of the Organization for consideration.
(c) Parties to the Convention, whether or
not Members of the Organization, shall be entitled to participate in the
proceedings of the Marine Environment Protection Committee.
(d) Amendments shall be adopted by a two-thirds
majority of only the Parties to the Convention present and voting.
(e) If adopted in accordance with subparagraph
(d), amendments shall be communicated by the Secretary-General to all Parties
to the Convention for acceptance.
(f) (i) An amendment to an article or the
Annex of the Convention shall be deemed to have been accepted on the date
on which it is accepted by two thirds of the Parties.
(ii) An amendment to an appendix shall be
deemed to have been accepted at the end of a period to be determined by
the Marine Environment Protection Committee at the time of its adoption,
which period shall not be less than ten months, unless within that period
an objection is communicated to the Secretary-General by not less than
one third of the Parties.
(g) (i) An amendment to an article or the
Annex of the Convention accepted in conformity with subparagraph (f)(i)
shall enter into force six months after the date on which it is deemed
to have been accepted with respect to the Parties which have notified the
Secretary-General that they have accepted it.
(ii) An amendment to an appendix accepted
in conformity with subparagraph (f)(ii) shall enter into force six months
after the date on which it is deemed to have been accepted with respect
to all Parties with the exception of those which, before that date, have
objected to it. A Party may at any time withdraw a previously communicated
objection by submitting a notification to that effect to the Secretary-General.
(3) Amendment by a Conference:
(a) Upon the request of a Party, concurred
with by at least one third of the Parties, the Secretary-General shall
convene a Conference of Parties to the Convention to consider amendments
to the Convention.
(b) An amendment adopted by such a Conference
by a two-thirds majority of those Parties present and voting shall be communicated
by the Secretary-General to all Parties for their acceptance.
(c) Unless the Conference decides otherwise,
the amendment shall be deemed to have been accepted and shall enter into
force in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (2)(f) and
(4) The adoption and entry into force of an
amendment constituting an addition of an Annex or an appendix shall be
subject to the procedure applicable to an amendment to the Annex.
(5) Any Party which has not accepted an amendment
to an article or the Annex under paragraph (2)(f)(i) or an amendment constituting
an addition of an Annex or an appendix under paragraph (4) or has communicated
an objection to an amendment to an appendix under paragraph (2)(f)(ii)
shall be treated as a non-Party only for the purpose of the application
of such amendment. Such treatment shall terminate upon the submission of
a notification of acceptance under paragraph (2)(f)(i) or withdrawal of
the objection under paragraph (2)(g)(ii).
(6) The Secretary-General shall inform all
Parties of any amendment which enters into force under this article, together
with the date on which the amendment enters into force.
(7) Any notification of acceptance of, objection
to, or withdrawal of objection to, an amendment under this article shall
be communicated in writing to the Secretary-General who shall inform Parties
of such notification and the date of its receipt.
(8) An appendix to the Convention shall contain
only provisions of a technical nature.
Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval
(1) This Convention shall remain open for
signature at the Headquarters of the Organization from 30 November 1990
until 29 November 1991 and shall thereafter remain open for accession.
Any State may become Party to this Convention by:
(a) signature without reservation as to ratification,
acceptance or approval; or
(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance
or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
(2) Ratification, acceptance, approval or
accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument to that effect
with the Secretary-General.
Entry into force
(1) This Convention shall enter into force
twelve months after the date on which not less than fifteen States have
either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or
approval or have deposited the requisite instruments of ratification, acceptance,
approval or accession in accordance with article 15.
(2) For States which have deposited an instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in respect of this Convention
after the requirements for entry into force thereof have been met but prior
to the date of entry into force, the ratification, acceptance, approval
or accession shall take effect on the date of entry into force of this
Convention or three months after the date of deposit of the instrument,
whichever is the later date.
(3) For States which have deposited an instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession after the date on which
this Convention entered into force, this Convention shall become effective
three months after the date of deposit of the instrument.
(4) After the date on which an amendment to
this Convention is deemed to have been accepted under article 14, any instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession deposited shall apply
to this Convention as amended.
(1) This Convention may be denounced by any
Party at any time after the expiry of five years from the date on which
this Convention enters into force for that Party.
(2) Denunciation shall be effected by notification
in writing to the Secretary-General.
(3) A denunciation shall take effect twelve
months after receipt of the notification of denunciation by the Secretary-General
or after the expiry of any longer period which may be indicated in the
(1) This Convention shall be deposited with
(2) The Secretary-General shall:
(a) inform all States which have signed this
Convention or acceded thereto of:
(i) each new signature or deposit of an instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, together with the date
(ii) the date of entry into force of this
(iii) the deposit of any instrument of denunciation
of this Convention together with the date on which it was received and
the date on which the denunciation takes effect;
(b) transmit certified true copies of this
Convention to the Governments of all States which have signed this Convention
or acceded thereto.
(3) As soon as this Convention enters into
force, a certified true copy thereof shall be transmitted by the depositary
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for registration and publication
in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
This Convention is established in a single
original in the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages,
each text being equally authentic.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF
the undersigned, being duly authorized by their respective Governments
for that purpose, have signed this Convention.
DONE AT London this thirtieth day of
November one thousand nine hundred and ninety.
REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS OF ASSISTANCE
(1) (a) Unless an agreement concerning the
financial arrangements governing actions of Parties to deal with oil pollution
incidents has been concluded on a bilateral or multilateral basis prior
to the oil pollution incident, Parties shall bear the costs of their respective
actions in dealing with pollution in accordance with subparagraph (i) or
(i) If the action was taken by one Party at
the express request of another Party, the requesting Party shall reimburse
to the assisting Party the cost of its action. The requesting Party may
cancel its request at any time, but in that case it shall bear the costs
already incurred or committed by the assisting Party.
(ii) If the action was taken by a Party on
its own initiative, this Party shall bear the costs of its action.
(b) The principles laid down in subparagraph
(a) shall apply unless the Parties concerned otherwise agree in any individual
(2) Unless otherwise agreed, the costs of
action taken by a Party at the request of another Party shall be fairly
calculated according to the law and current practice of the assisting Party
concerning the reimbursement of such costs.
(3) The Party requesting assistance and the
assisting Party shall, where appropriate, co-operate in concluding any
action in response to a compensation claim. To that end, they shall give
due consideration to existing legal regimes. Where the action thus concluded
does not permit full compensation for expenses incurred in the assistance
operation, the Party requesting assistance may ask the assisting Party
to waive reimbursement of the expenses exceeding the sums compensated or
to reduce the costs which have been calculated in accordance with paragraph
(2). It may also request a postponement of the reimbursement of such costs.
In considering such a request, assisting Parties shall give due consideration
to the needs of the developing countries.
(4) The provisions of this Convention shall
not be interpreted as in any way prejudicing the rights of Parties to recover
from third parties the costs of actions to deal with pollution or the threat
of pollution under other applicable provisions and rules of national and
international law. Special attention shall be paid to the 1969 International
Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the 1971 International
Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation
for Oil Pollution Damage or any subsequent amendment to those Conventions.