IMO Conventions
Key Conventions on Marine Pollution, and Liability and Compensation

Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC)

The LLMC Convention, first adopted in 1976, provides for a virtually unbreakable system of limiting liability for shipowners and salvors, except if evidence "proved that the loss resulted from his personal act or omission, committed with the intent to cause such a loss, or recklessly and with knowledge that such loss would probably result". It replaced the International Convention Relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Seagoing Ships.

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78)

The MARPOL Convention was adopted in 1973 at the IMO. It is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. 

MARPOL has been updated by amendments through the years, and currently includes six technical Annexes. 

International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990 (OPRC 1990)

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) is the international instrument that provides a framework to facilitate international cooperation and mutual assistance in preparing for, and responding to major oil pollution incidents. It requires states to develop national systems for pollution response in their respective jurisdictions, and maintainin adequate capacity and resources to address oil pollution emergencies.

Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000 (OPRC – HNS Protocol) 

Like the OPRC Convention, the OPRC-HNS Protocol aims to establish national systems for preparedness and response, and to extend the global framework for international co-operation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution. The OPRC-HNS Protocol ensures that ships carrying hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) are covered by preparedness and response regimes similar to those already in existence for oil incidents.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC 1992) 

The Civil Liability Convention was adopted to ensure adequate compensation to persons who suffer oil pollution damage, resulting from maritime casualties involving oil-carrying ships. The Convention places strict liability for such damage on the owner of the ship from which the polluting oil escaped or was discharged.

International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND 1992)

The 1992 Fund Convention, supplementary to CLC 1992, establishes a regime for compensating victims when compensation under the CLC 1992 is not available or inadequate. The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, 1992 (1992 Fund) was set up under the 1992 Fund Convention. An International Oil Pollution Compensation Supplementary Fund was established. following the adoption of the 2003 Protocol. 

International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010 (HNS 2010) 

The HNS Convention was first adopted in 1996 to insure adequate and efficient compensation to victims of accidents involving hazardous and noxious substances; it was superseded by the 2010 Protocol. The Convention is based on the two-tier system established under the CLC and Fund Conventions.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 (BUNKERS 2001)

The Bunker Convention was adopted to ensure adequate, prompt, and effective compensation to persons who suffer damage caused by spills of oil, when carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers. The convention is modelled on the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage; limits of liability are in in accordance with the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims.

Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (Nairobi WRC 2007)

The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks provides the legal basis for States to remove shipwrecks that may have the potential to affect adversely the safety of lives, goods and property at sea, as well as the marine environment. The Convention provides a set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks located beyond the territorial sea. 

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At a Glance

IMO Conventions

Majority of the conventions adopted under the auspices of IMO, or for which it is otherwise responsible, falls into three main categories.

The first group is concerned with maritime safety; the second, with the prevention of marine pollution; and the third, with liability and compensation, especially in relation to damage caused by pollution. 

Outside these major groupings are a number of other conventions which deal with facilitation, tonnage measurement, unlawful acts against shipping and salvage, etc. 

For more information on IMO Conventions, please visit their website. 

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