As ships destined for dismantling will rarely fly the flag of the state in which they are to be recycled, this activity can represent a transboundary movement of hazardous waste. However, given the global nature of the shipping industry and the practices associated with sending end-of-life ships for recycling, there has been difficulty in applying the provisions of the Basel Convention to ship recycling. Parties have recognised that Basel controls may often be circumvented for ships going for recycling.
At the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2004, while Basel Parties recognised that ship may become waste as defined in Article 2 of the Basel Convention, they also invited the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to continue work aimed at the establishment of mandatory requirements to ensure the environmentally sound management of ship dismantling (decision VII/26 on Environmentally sound management of ship dismantling).
The IMO Assembly, at its twenty-fourth session in December 2005, adopted resolution A.981(24) requesting its Marine Environment Protection Committee develop a legally binding instrument on ship recycling. Subsequently, both COP 8 (2006) and COP 9 (2008) invited the IMO to ensure the draft ship recycling convention establishes an equivalent level of control as that established under the Basel Convention. In addition, mindful of the impending adoption of the draft ship recycling convention, COP 9 requested the Open-ended Working Group to carry out a preliminary assessment on whether the ship recycling convention, as adopted, establishes an equivalent level of control and enforcement as that established under the Basel Convention, in their entirety, after having developed the criteria necessary for such assessment.
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong, China, in May 2009. Following this, in May 2010, the seventh session of the Open-ended Working Group welcomed the adoption of the Hong Kong Convention and developed criteria necessary to carry out a preliminary assessment of equivalency (decision OEWG-VII/12 on Environmentally sound dismantling of ships). When Parties met for the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Cartagena, Colombia, consensus on whether there is an equivalent level of control and enforcement between the Basel and Hong Kong conventions could not be reached. Nevertheless, the Conference of the Parties encouraged parties to ratify the Hong Kong Convention to enable its early entry into force. COP 10 also acknowledged that the Basel Convention should continue to assist countries to apply the Basel Convention as it relates to ships (decision BC-10/17 on Environmentally sound dismantling of ships).
On the matter of international cooperation and technical assistance activities with respect to ship recycling, decision BC-10/17 requested the Secretariat, subject to the availability of funding, to develop further the programmes for sustainable ship recycling in conjunction with other bodies, in particular the IMO and the ILO. For further information on activities currently being undertaken by the Secretariat, please refer to the Capacity Building section.
For information on the development of legislation and strategies at the regional and national levels, please visit the following websites:
Other websites of interest: