Intervention Convention

Q. Is the Intervention Convention in force?
Yes. This Convention was adopted in November 1969, entered into force on 6 May 1975. 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.

Q. Does it apply to pollutants other than oil?
The 1973 London Conference on Marine Pollution adopted the Protocol relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Marine Pollution by Substances other than Oil. This extended the regime of the 1969 Intervention Convention to substances which are either listed in the Annex to the Protocol or which have characteristics substantially similar to those substances. The 1973 Protocol entered into force in 1983.

Q. Is there a Convention that deals with cooperation of nations to combat pollution?
International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) deals with this subject. It was adopted in November 1990, entered into force on 13 May 1995. It provides a global framework for international co-operation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution.

Q. In respect of OPRC, what must the Parties do?
Parties to OPRC are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries.

Q. What preparedness must be observed by ships and the Party Nations?
Ships and offshore units are required to carry a shipboard oil pollution emergency plan, which must be coordinated with national systems for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents. Ships are required to report incidents of pollution to coastal authorities. The Convention details the actions that are then to be taken. The Convention calls for the establishment of stockpiles of oil spill combating equipment, the holding of oil spill combating exercises and the development of detailed plans for dealing with pollution incidents.

Q. What about the expenditure incurred by a Party?
In the event of pollution emergency and provision is made for the reimbursement of any assistance provided. IMO plays an important coordinating role.

Q. Is there a similar Convention for the noxious substances?
A Protocol to the OPRC relating to hazardous and noxious substances (OPRC-HNS Protocol) was adopted in 2000.

Q. What kind of casualties is dealt when referred to the Intervention Convention?
When referred to the Intervention Convention, 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.

Q. What is the responsibility of a Coastal State in respect of consultation and notification prior exercising the right to take measures?
When a coastal State is exercising the right to take measures the following provisions shall apply:
(1) coastal State shall proceed to consultations with other States affected, particularly with the flag State or States;
(2) it shall notify without delay the proposed measures to any persons physical or corporate known to the coastal State, to have interests which can reasonably be expected to be affected by those measures;
(3) before any measure is taken, the coastal State may proceed to a consultation with independent experts, whose list is maintained by the Organizations.

Q. Can such action be taken without prior notification or consultation?
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.

Q. What is the responsibility towards the safety of life?
A coastal State shall, before taking such measures and during their course, use its best endeavors 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.

Q. How does IMO know about measures?
The measures which have been taken 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.

Q. What is the provision, in case the measures taken are disproportionately excess?
Measures taken by the coastal State shall be proportionate to the damage actual or threatened to it. Such measures shall not go beyond what is reasonably necessary to achieve the objective 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.
Any Party which has taken measures in convention 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.

Q. What is provided in UNCLOS 82, in respect of measures which can be taken to prevent the marine pollution?
Article 221(1) UNCLOS provides the rights of States, ‘pursuant to international law, both customary and conventional, to take and enforce measures to prevent marine pollution. It extends beyond the territorial sea and is proportionate to the actual or threatened damage to protect their coastline or related interests, including fishing, from pollution or threat of pollution.  It may be thus, following upon a maritime casualty which may reasonably be expected to result in major harmful consequences.

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