Legal questions relating to the application of the Basel Convention to ships matters have been addressed mainly in two areas:
- Ships wastes, more specifically the relationship between the Basel Convention and MARPOL
- Ships dismantling, more specifically the relationship between the Basel Convention and the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships
In both cases, the Basel Convention is working in close cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Wastes from ships
The issue of wastes generated on board ships and how far the Basel Convention regulates the generation and management of such wastes, including their transboundary movements, raises the question of the relationships between the Convention and other treaties regulating maritime affairs that are under the framework of the IMO.
This relationship is recognized in the text of the Convention. Article 1 paragraph 4 of the Convention provides:
“Wastes which derive from the normal operations of a ship, the discharge of which is covered by another international instrument, are excluded from the scope of this Convention.”
This matter has received specific attention by the Parties to the Convention in the aftermath of the 2006 Probo Koala incident in Côte d’Ivoire at what time specific activities under the Convention were initiated both on legal matters and in the area of capacity building.
Through successive decisions, Parties to the Convention have underlined the importance of close cooperation between the Basel Convention and the IMO and have expressed their willingness to clarify the relationship between the Basel Convention and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, and as further amended by the Protocol of 1997 (MARPOL) in respect of hazardous and other wastes and harmful substances; any gaps between those instruments; any options for addressing those gaps, if any; or any other relevant information:
Assessment of how far the Basel Convention technical guidelines cover wastes covered by MARPOL 73/78
In decisions BC-10/16 and BC-11/17, the Conference of the Parties invited any Party willing to do so to undertake an assessment of how far the current Basel Convention technical guidelines cover MARPOL wastes, in close consultation with the IMO. In October 2013, the Secretariat was informed by the Flemish Waste Agency (OVAM), on behalf of Belgium, of its intention to undertake this assessment. The document is expected to be considered by the Conference of the Parties at its twelfth meeting, in May 2015.
Legal analysis of the application of the Basel Convention to hazardous wastes and other wastes generated on board ships
Work on a legal analysis of the application of the Basel Convention to hazardous wastes and other wastes generated on board ships took place between the seventh session of the OEWG and the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
During the seventh session of the OEWG, Parties adopted decision OEWG-VII/13 whereby they requested the Secretariat to develop a legal analysis of the application of the Basel Convention to hazardous and other wastes generated on board ships. As requested, the Secretariat prepared a legal analysis, and comments were received by several Parties. Prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, a revised legal analysis was prepared by the Secretariat. During that meeting, Parties adopted decision BC-10/16 whereby they requested the preparation, by 30 April 2012, of a revised version of the legal analysis taking into account comments received from Parties and others
The issue of wastes generated on board ships was considered during the eighth meeting the OEWG at what time Parties considered the 30 April 2012 version of the legal analysis of the application of the Basel Convention to such wastes. By decision OEWG-VIII/9 on Cooperation between the Basel Convention and the International Maritime Organization, the OEWG invite Parties and others to review the analysis further and to send comments to the Secretariat by 1 December 2012. Comments received on the April 2012 version of the legal analysis are set out in the table below. The Secretariat was also requested to prepare a revised version of the legal analysis for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its eleventh meeting.
The Conference of the Parties at its eleventh meeting, in its decision BC-11/17, took note of the revised legal analysis and its conclusions. No further work was requested on this particular matter.