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Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators (ENTRI) -- Full Text


Summary of the "International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties" is available from the UNEP Register of International Treaties and Other Agreements in the Field of the Environment.

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INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION RELATING TO INTERVENTION ON 
THE HIGH SEAS IN CASES OF OIL POLLUTION CASUALTIES

(Brussels, 29 November 1969)

The States Parties to the present Convention,

Conscious of the need to protect the interests of their 
peoples against the grave consequences of a maritime 
casualty resulting in danger of oil pollution of sea and 
coastlines, onvinced that under these circumstances 
measures of an exceptional character to protect such 
interests might be necessary on the high seas and that 
these measures do not affect the principle of freedom of 
the high seas,

Have agreed as follows:

Article I

1. Parties to the present Convention may take such 
measures on the high seas as may be necessary to 
prevent, mitigate or eliminate grave and imminent danger 
to their coastline or related interests from pollution 
or threat of pollution of the sea by oil, following upon 
a maritime casualty or acts related to such a casualty, 
which may reasonably be expected to result in major 
harmful consequences.

2. However, no measures shall be taken under the present 
Convention against any warship or other ship owned or 
operated by a State and used, for the time being, only 
on government non-commercial service.

Article II

For the purpose of the present Convention:

1. "maritime casualty" means a collision of ships, 
stranding or other incident of navigation, or other 
occurrence on board a ship or external to it resulting 
in material damage or imminent threat of material damage 
to a ship or cargo;

2. "ship" means:

(a) any sea-going vessel of any type whatsoever, and

(b) any floating craft, with the exception of an 
installation or device engaged in the exploration and 
exploitation of the resources of the sea-bed and the 
ocean floor and the subsoil thereof;

3. "oil" means crude oil, fuel oil, diesel oil and 
lubricating oil; 

4. "related interests" means the interests of a coastal 
State directly affected or threatened by the maritime 
casualty, such as: 

(a) maritime coastal, port or estuarine activities, 
including fisheries activities, constituting an 
essential means of livelihood of the persons concerned;

(b) tourist attractions of the area concerned;

(c) the health of the coastal population and the well-
being of the area concerned, including conservation of 
living marine resources and of wildlife;

5. "Organization" means the Inter-Governmental Maritime 
Consultative Organization.

Article III

When a coastal State is exercising the right to take 
measures in accordance with Article I, the following 
provisions shall apply: 

(a) before taking any measures, a coastal State shall 
proceed to consultations with other States affected by 
the maritime casualty, particularly with the flag State 
or States;

(b) the coastal State shall notify without delay the 
proposed measures to any persons physical or corporate 
known to the coastal State, or made known to it during 
the consultations, to have interests which can 
reasonably be expected to be affected by those measures. 
The coastal State shall take into account any views they 
may submit;

(c) before any measure is taken, the coastal State may 
proceed to a consultation with independent experts, 
whose names shall be chosen from a list maintained by 
the Organization;

(d) in cases of extreme urgency requiring measures to be 
taken immediately, the coastal State may take measures 
rendered necessary by the urgency of the situation, 
without prior notification or consultation or without 
continuing consultations already begun;

(e) a coastal State shall, before taking such measures 
and during their course, use its best endeavours to 
avoid any risk to human life, and to afford persons in 
distress any assistance of which they may stand in need, 
and in appropriate cases to facilitate the repatriation 
of ships crews, and to raise no obstacle thereto;

(f) measures which have been taken in application of 
Article I shall be notified without delay to the States 
and to the known physical or corporate persons 
concerned, as well as to the Secretary-General of the 
Organization.

Article IV

1. Under the supervision of the Organization, there 
shall be set up and maintained the list of experts 
contemplated by Article III of the present Convention, 
and the Organization shall make necessary and 
appropriate regulations in connexion therewith, 
including the determination of the required 
qualifications.

2. Nominations to the list may be made by Member States 
of the Organization and by Parties to this Convention. 
The experts shall be paid on the basis of services 
rendered by the States utilizing those services.

Article V

1. Measures taken by the coastal State in accordance 
with Article I shall be proportionate to the damage 
actual or threatened to it.

2. Such measures shall not go beyond what is reasonably 
necessary to achieve the end mentioned in Article I and 
shall cease as soon as that end has been achieved; they 
shall not unnecessarily interfere with the rights and 
interests of the flag State, third States and of any 
persons, physical or corporate, concerned.

3. In considering whether the measures are proportionate 
to the damage, account shall be taken of:

(a) the extent and probability of imminent damage if 
those measures are not taken; and

(b) the likelihood of those measures being effective; 
and 
(c) the extent of the damage which may be caused by such 
measures.

Article VI

Any Party which has taken measures in contravention of 
the provisions of the present Convention causing damage 
to others, shall be obliged to pay compensation to the 
extent of the damage caused by measures which exceed 
those reasonably necessary to achieve the end mentioned 
in Article I.

Article VII

Except as specifically provided, nothing in the present 
Convention shall prejudice any otherwise applicable 
right, duty, privilege or immunity or deprive any of the 
Parties or any interested physical or corporate person 
of any remedy otherwise applicable.

Article VIII

1. Any controversy between the Parties as to whether 
measures taken under Article I were in contravention of 
the provisions of the present Convention, to whether 
compensation is obliged to be paid under Article VI, and 
to the amount of such compensation shall, if settlement 
by negotiation between the Parties involved or between 
the Party which took the measures and the physical or 
corporate claimants has not been possible, and if the 
Parties do not otherwise agree, be submitted upon 
request of any of the Parties concerned to conciliation, 
or if conciliation does not succeed, to arbitration, as 
set out in the Annex to the present Convention.

2. The Party which took the measures shall not be 
entitled to refuse a request for conciliation or 
arbitration under provisions of the preceding paragraph 
solely on the grounds that any remedies under municipal 
law in its own courts have not been exhausted.

Article IX

1. The present Convention shall remain open for 
signature until 31 December 1970 and shall thereafter 
remain open for accession.

2. States Members of the United Nations or any of the 
Specialized Agencies or of the International Atomic 
Energy Agency or Parties to the Statute of the 
International Court of Justice may become 

Parties to this Convention by:

(a) signature without reservation as to ratification, 
acceptance or approval;

(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance or 
approval followed by ratification, acceptance or 
approval; or

(c) accession.

Article X

1. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall 
be effected by the deposit of a formal instrument to 
that effect with the Secretary-General of the 
Organization.

2. Any instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval 
or accession deposited after the entry into force of an 
amendment to the present Convention with respect to all 
existing Parties or after the completion of all measures 
required for the entry into force of the amendment with 
respect to those Parties shall be deemed to apply to the 
Convention as modified by the amendment.

Article XI

1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the 
ninetieth day following the date on which Governments of 
fifteen States have either signed it without reservation 
as to ratification, acceptance or approval or have 
deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, 
approval or accession with the Secretary-General of the 
Organization.

2. For each State which subsequently ratifies, accepts, 
approves or accedes to it the present Convention shall 
come into force on the ninetieth day after deposit by 
such State of the appropriate instrument.

Article XII

1. The present Convention may be denounced by any Party 
at any time after the date on which the Convention comes 
into force for that State.

2. Denunciation shall be effected by the deposit of an 
instrument with the Secretary-General of the 
Organization.

3. A denunciation shall take effect one year, or such 
longer period as may be specified in the instrument of 
denunciation, after its deposit with the Secretary-
General of the Organization.

Article XIII

1. The United Nations where it is the administering 
authority for a territory, or any State Party to the 
present Convention responsible for the international 
relations of a territory, shall as soon as possible 
consult with the appropriate authorities of such 
territories or take such other measures as may be 
appropriate, in order to extend the present Convention 
to that territory and may at any time by notification in 
writing to the Secretary-General of the Organization 
declare that the present Convention shall extend to such 
territory.

2. The present Convention shall, from the date of 
receipt of the notification or from such other date as 
may specified in the notification, extend the territory 
named therein.

3. The United Nations, or any Party which has made a 
declaration under paragraph 1 of this Article may at any 
time after the date on which the Convention has been so 
extended to any territory declare by notification in 
writing to the Secretary-General of the Organization 
that the present Convention shall cease to extend to any 
such territory named in the notification.

4. The present Convention shall cease to extend to any 
territory mentioned in such notification one year, or 
such longer period as may be specified therein, after 
the date of receipt of the notification by the 
Secretary-General of the Organization.

Article XIV

1. A Conference for the purpose of revising or amending 
the present Convention may be convened by the 
Organization.

2. The Organization shall convene a Conference of the 
States Parties to the present Convention for revising or 
amending the present Convention at the request of not 
less than one-third of the Parties.

Article XV

1. The present Convention shall be deposited with the 
Secretary-General of the Organization.

2. The Secretary-General of the Organization shall:

(a) inform all States which have signed or acceded to 
the Convention of:

(i) each new signature or deposit of instrument together 
with the date thereof:

(ii) the deposit of any instrument of denunciation of 
this Convention together with the date of the deposit;

(iii) the extension of the present Convention to any 
territory under paragraph 1 of Article XIII and of the 
termination of any such extension under the provisions 
of paragraph 4 of that Article stating in each case the 
date on which the present Convention has been or will 
cease to be so extended;

(b) transmit certified true copies of the present 
Convention to all Signatory States and to all States 
which accede to the present Convention.

Article XVI

As soon as the present Convention comes into force, the 
text shall be transmitted by the Secretary-General of 
the Organization to the Secretariat of the United 
Nations for registration and publication in accordance 
with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Article XVII

The present Convention is established in a single copy 
in the English and French languages, both texts being 
equally authentic. Official translations in the Russian 
and Spanish languages shall be prepared and deposited 
with the signed original.

In witness whereof the undersigned being duly authorized 
by their respective Governments for that purpose have 
signed the present Convention.

Done at Brussels this twenty-ninth day of November 1969.

Annex Chapter I Conciliation

omissis

Chapter II Arbitration

omissis.