International Atomic Energy Agency
(Unofficial electronic edition)
11 June 1974
Original: ENGLISH, FRENCH
RUSSIAN and SPANISH
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Polluton by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
[Also see information on Convention and Protocol to this Convention that has been adopted]
[ French | Russian | Spanish]
- The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by
Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter was drawn up at the
Inter-Governmental Conference on the Dumping of Wastes at Sea,
held in London from 30 October to 10 November 1972. 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 are the Depositary Governments for
instruments of ratification of, and accession to, the Convention,
pursuant to Articles XVII and XVIII respectively.
- The text of the Convention, provided by one of the Depositary
Governments, is reproduced herein for the convenience of all
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Polluton by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
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
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
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 this Convention;
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:
- "Dumping" means:
- any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from
vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea;
- any deliberate disposal at sea of vessels, aircraft,
platforms or other man-made structures at sea.
- "Dumping" does not include:
- 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, air-craft, platforms or structures;
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Sea" means all marine waters other than the internal waters
- "Wastes or other matter" mean material and substance of any
kind, form or description.
- "Special permit" means permission granted specifically on
application in advance and in accordance with Annex II and Annex
- "General permit" means permission granted in advance and in
accordance with Annex III.
- "The Organisation" means the Organisation designated by the
Contracting Parties in accordance with Article XIV(2).
- 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
- the dumping of wastes or other matter listed in Annex I is
- the dumping of waste or other matter listed in Annex II
requires a prior special permit;
- the dumping of all other wastes or matter requires a
prior general permit.
- Any permit shall be issued only after careful consideration
of all the factors set forth in Annex III, including prior
studies of the characteristic of the dumping site as set forth in
Sections B and C of that Annex.
- 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 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
- 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.
- Any Contracting Party may waive its rights under paragraph
(2) at the time of, or subsequent to ratification of, or
accession to this Convention.
- Each Contracting Party shall designate an appropriate
authority or authorities to:
- 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);
- issue general permits which shall be required prior to,
and for, the dumping of all other matter;
- keep records of the nature and quantities of all matter
permitted to be dumped and the location time and method of
- monitor individually, or in collaboration with other
Parties and competent International Organisations, the condition
of the seas for the purposes of this Convention.
- 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:
- loaded in its territory;
- 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.
- In issuing permits under sub-paragraph (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.
- 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 adopt
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.
- Each Contracting Party shall apply the measures required to
implement the present Convention to all:
- vessel and aircraft registered in its territory or flying
- vessels and aircraft loading in its territory or
territorial seas matter which is to be dumped;
- vessels and aircraft and fixed or floating platforms
under its jurisdiction believed to be engaged in dumping.
- Each Party shall take in its territory appropriate measures
to prevent and punish conduct in contravention of the provisions
of this Convention.
- The Parties agree to co-operate in the development of
procedures for the effective application of this Convention
particularly on the high sea, including procedures for the
reporting of vessels and aircraft observed dumping in
contravention of the Convention
- 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.
- 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
agreement, 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 procedure to
be followed by Contracting Parties to the different convention
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:
- the training of scientific and technical personnel;
- the supply of necessary equipment and facilities for
research and monitoring;
- 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 other
States or to an other area of the environment, caused by duping
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
- hydrocarbons, including oil, and their wastes;
- other noxious or hazardous matter transported by vessels
for purposes other than dumping;
- wastes generated in the course of operation of vessels,
aircraft platforms and other man-made structures at sea;
- radio-active pollutants from all sources, including
- agents of chemical and biological warfare;
- 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 promotes 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
2750 C (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 it coast.
- The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
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
- The Contracting Parties shall designate a competent
Organisation exiting at the tile 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 these duties.
- The Secretariat duties of the Organisation shall include:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
- Consultative or special meetings of the Contracting Parties
shall keep under continuing review the implementation of this
Convention and may, inter alia:
- review and adopt amendments to this Convention and its
Annexes in accordance with Article XV;
- invite the appropriate scientific body or bodies to
collaborate with and to advise the Parties or the Organisation on
any scientific or technical aspect relevant to this Convention,
including particularly the content of the Annexes;
- receive and consider reports made pursuant to Article
- promote co-operation with and between regional
organisations concerned with the prevention of marine pollution;
- 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 circumstance, including the
designation of appropriate dumping areas, and recommend
- consider any additional action that may be required.
- The Contracting Parties at their first consultative meeting
shall establish rules of procedure a necessary.
- At meetings of the Contracting Parties called in
accordance with Article IV amendments to this Convention may be
adopted by a two-thirds majority of those present. An Amendment
shall enter into force for the Paries 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.
- 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.
- 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 made 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.
- 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.
- Prior to the designation of the Organisation, the Secretarial
functions therein 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
This Convention shall be open for signature by any State at
London, Mexico City, Moscow and Washington from 9 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.
This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day
following the date of deposit of the fifteenth instrument of
ratification or accession.
- 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 or accession.
The depositaries shall inform Contracting Parties:
- of signatures to this Convention and of the deposit of
instrument of ratification, accession or withdrawal, in
accordance with Articles XVI, XVII, XVIII and XXI,and
- of the date on which this Convention will enter into
force, in accordance with Article XIX
Any Contracting Part 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, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland and the United States of America who shall send
certified copies thereof to all States.
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.
- Organohalogen compounds.
- Mercury and mercury compound.
- Cadmium and cadmium compounds.
- 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.
- Crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil, and lubricating oil,
hydraulic fluids, and any mixture containing any of these, taken
on board for the purpose of dumping.
- 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.
- Materials in whatever form (e.g. solids, liquids,
semi-liquids, gases or in a living state) produced for biological
and chemical warfare.
- 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:
- make edible marine organism unpalatable, or
- endanger human health or that of domestic animals.
The consultative procedure provided for under Article XI should
be followed by a Party if there is doubt about the harmlessness
of the substance.
- This Annex does not apply to wastes or other materials (e.g.
sewage sludges and dredged spoils) containing the matter referred
to in paragraphs 1-5 above as trace contaminants. Such wastes
shall be subject to the provisions o Annexes II and III as
The following substances and materials requiring special care are
listed for the purposes of Article VI(1)(a).
- Wastes containing significant amounts of the materials listed
pesticides and their by-products not covered in Annex I.
- In the issue of permits for the dumping of large quantities
of acids and alkalis, consideration shall be given to the
possible preference in such wastes of the substances listed in
paragraph A and to the following additional substances:
- Containers, scrap metal and other bulky wastes liable to sink
to the sea bottom which may present a serious obstacle to fishing
- 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:
- Characteristics and composition of the matter
- Total amount and average composition of matter dumped
(e.g. per year).
- Form, e.g. solid, sludge, liquid, or gaseous.
- Properties: physical (e.g. solubility and density)
chemical and biochemical (e.g. oxygen demand, nutrients and
biological (e.g. presence of viruses, bacteria, yeasts,
- Persistence: physical, chemical and biological.
- Accumulation and biotransformation in biological
materials or sediments.
- Susceptibility to physical, chemical and biochemical
changes and interaction in the aquatic environment with other
dissolved organic and inorganic materials.
- Probability of production of taints or other changes
reducing marketability of resources (fish, shellfish, etc.).
- Characteristics of dumping site and method of
- Location (e.g. co-ordinates of the dumping area, depth and
distance from the coast), location in relation to other areas
(e.g. amenity areas, spawning, nursery and fishing area and
- Rate of disposal per specific period (e.g. quantity per
day, per week, per month).
- Methods of packaging and containment, if any.
- Initial dilution achieved by proposed method of release.
- Dispersal characteristics (e.g. effects of currents,
tides and wind on horizontal transport and vertical mixing).
- Water characteristics (e.g. temperature, pH, salinity,
stratification, oxygen indices of pollution- dissolved Oxygen D),
chemical oxygen demand (COD), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)-
nitrogen present in organic and mineral form including ammonia,
suspended matter, other nutrients and productivity).
- Bottom characteristics (e.g. topography, geochemical and
geological characteristics, and biological productivity).
- Existence and effects of other dumpings which have been
made in the dumping area (e.g. heavy metal background reading and
organic carbon content).
- 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.
- General considerations and conditions
- Possible effects on amenities (e.g. presence of floating or
stranded material, turbidity, objectionable odour discolouration
- Possible effects on marine life, fish and shellfish
culture, fish stocks and fisheries, seaweed harvesting and
- Possible effects on other uses of the sea (e.g.
impairment of water quality for industria 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
- 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.