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INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON OIL POLLUTION 
PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE AND COOPERATION

(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 cooperation 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 cooperation 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 Cooperation,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1

General provisions

(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 incident.

(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.

Article 2

Definitions

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 Maritime 
Organization.

(7) Secretary-General means the Secretary-General of the 
Organization.

Article 3

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 inter-
national 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 coordinated 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 coordinated with the 
national system established in accordance with article 6 
and approved in accordance with procedures established 
by the competent national authority.

Article 4

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 coastal State;

(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 coastal State;

(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.

Article 5

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 shall:

(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.

Article 6

National and regional systems for preparedness and 
response

(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 assistance requested; 

(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 
cooperation and, as appropriate, in cooperation 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 coordinate 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; and

(c) its national contingency plan.

Article 7

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 to facilitate:

(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).

Article 8

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 for restoration.

(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 institutions.

(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.

Article 9

Technical co-operation

(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 
programmes.

(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.

Article 10

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.

Article 11

Relation to other conventions and international 
agreements. Nothing in this Convention shall be 
construed as altering the rights or obligations of any 
Party under any other convention or international 
agreement.

Article 12

Institutional arrangements

(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; and (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 to States;

(d) technical assistance:

(i) to facilitate the provision of technical assistance 
to States establishing national or regional response 
capabilities; and

(ii) to facilitate the provision of technical assistance 
and advice, upon the request of States faced with major 
oil pollution incidents. (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.

Article 13

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.


Article 14

Amendments

(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 (g).

(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.

Article 15

Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and 
accession

(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

(c) accession.

(2) Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession 
shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument to 
that effect with the Secretary-General.


Article 16

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.

Article 17

Denunciation

(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 notification.

Article 18

Depositary

(1) This Convention shall be deposited with the 
Secretary-General. 

(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 thereof; 

(ii) the date of entry into force of this Convention; 
and

(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.

Article 19

Languages

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.

Annex - Reimbursement of Costs of Assistance

omissis.