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International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969

Adoption: 29 November 1969; Entry into force: 6 May 1975


The Convention affirms the right of a coastal State to take such measures on the high seas as may be necessary to prevent, mitigate or eliminate danger to its coastline or related interests from pollution by oil or the threat thereof, following upon a maritime casualty.
 
The coastal State is, however, empowered to take only such action as is necessary, and after due consultations with appropriate interests including, in particular, the flag State or States of the ship or ships involved, the owners of the ships or cargoes in question and, where circumstances permit, independent experts appointed for this purpose.
 
A coastal State which takes measures beyond those permitted under the Convention is liable to pay compensation for any damage caused by such measures. Provision is made for the settlement of disputes arising in connection with the application of the Convention.
 
The Convention applies to all seagoing vessels except warships or other vessels owned or operated by a State and used on Government non-commercial service.

The 1969 Intervention Convention applied to casualties involving pollution by oil. In view of the increasing quantity of other substances, mainly chemical, carried by ships, some of which would, if released, cause serious hazard to the marine environment, the 1969 Brussels Conference recognized the need to extend the Convention to cover substances other than oil.
 
Tthe 1973 London Conference on Marine Pollution therefore 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 and was amended in 1996 and 2002 to update the list of substances attached to it.