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:
Guidance manual on how to improve the sea-land interface
In its decision BC-12/16, the Conference of the Parties requested the Secretariat to prepare a first draft of the guidance manual on how to improve the sea-land interface, taking into account the revised version of the IMO Comprehensive Manual on Port Reception Facilities, and to make it available on the Convention website by 31 December 2015.
In the same decision, the Conference of the Parties requested the Secretariat to invite Parties and others to comment on the draft guidance manual by 31 March 2016, and to submit a revised draft guidance manual, taking into account those comments, to the Open-ended Working Group for consideration at its tenth meeting.
Furthermore, the Conference of the Parties requested the Open-ended Working Group to finalize, at its tenth meeting, the above mentioned guidance manual, for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its thirteenth meeting.
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 of Flanders (OVAM), on behalf of Belgium, of its intention to undertake this assessment.
A report on the status and methodology for the development of the assessment was submitted to the Open-ended Working Group at its ninth meeting.
On 19 December 2014, a draft assessment was prepared by OVAM followed by an invitation to parties to comment on it.