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.