The "Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972", the "London Convention" for short, is one of the first global conventions to protect the marine environment from human activities and has been in force since 1975. Its objective is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by dumping of wastes and other matter. Currently, 87 States are Parties to this Convention.
50 years of the London Convention
In 2022, IMO is marking fifty years since the adoption of the London
Convention. The adoption of the Convention was a major achievement, which,
along with the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm, constituted
the first steps to truly put the environment at centre stage and take
responsibility for the harm humans have done to the ocean.
Download infographic illustrating the main steps taken under the London Convention since 1972.
Download more detailed timeline infographic here.
London Protocol 1996
In 1996, the "London Protocol" was agreed to further modernize the Convention and, eventually, replace it. Under the Protocol all dumping is prohibited, except for possibly acceptable wastes on the so-called "reverse list". The Protocol entered into force on 24 March 2006 and there are currently 53 Parties to the Protocol.
These pages include general information for the public and for States interested in becoming Parties to the London Protocol 1996. Please click on the links to the left for further information on related issues.
Information about the Convention and the Protocol can also be found in the information leaflet (currently available in English only) which contains details on what the London Convention is, achievements to date, the potential benefits and cost of membership, a shortlist of the current activities under the instruments and their relationship with other international agreements.
The Office for the London Convention/Protocol and Ocean Affairs works closely with a number of international organizations and industry associations, a list can be found under the "Links and References" section to the left.
Please note that official documents for meetings under the Convention and Protocol or intersessional meetings of working groups under the instruments are only available from the IMODOCS website, at
http://docs.imo.org . Registration is required to access the documents.
Text of the Convention and Protocol
The full text of the Protocol, with its 2006 amendments, and the text of the Convention can be found in the links on the right hand side. Please note that these are not certified copies of the legal texts, these can be downloaded from
http://docs.imo.org, under the section "Treaties".
What are the purpose and objectives of the London Convention and Protocol?
The objective of the London Convention and Protocol is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution. Contracting Parties shall take effective measures to prevent pollution of the marine environment caused by dumping at sea (see articles I and II of the Convention and article 2 of the Protocol).
The purpose of the London Convention is to control all sources of marine pollution and prevent pollution of the sea through regulation of dumping into the sea of waste materials. A so-called "black- and grey-list" approach is applied for wastes, which can be considered for disposal at sea according to the hazard they present to the environment. For the blacklist items dumping is prohibited. Dumping of the grey-listed materials requires a special permit from a designated national authority under strict control and provided certain conditions are met. All other materials or substances can be dumped after a general permit has been issued.
The purpose of the Protocol is similar to that of the Convention, but the Protocol is more restrictive: application of a "precautionary approach" is included as a general obligation; a "reverse list" approach is adopted, which implies that all dumping is prohibited unless explicitly permitted; incineration of wastes at sea is prohibited; export of wastes for the purpose of dumping or incineration at sea is prohibited. Extended compliance procedures and technical assistance provisions have been included, while a so-called transitional period allows new Contracting Parties to phase in compliance with the Protocol over a period of five years, provided certain conditions are met.
Progress to date: Four decades of achievements
A video about the achievements of the Convention and Protocol over the last 40 years, since the adoption of the London Convention in 1972, can be found here.
An extensive compilation of the events leading up to the adoption of the Convention and Protocol, as well as many of the historical documents (meeting reports, etc.), is available on the IMO
Maritime Knowledge Centre website.