Volume(s) 1-3; pages 2447-2454



Accord of Cooperation for the Protection of the Coasts and Waters of the Northeast Atlantic Against Pollution Due to Hydrocarbons or Other Harmful Substances, Lisbon, 1990


Done at Lisbon 17 October 1990

Not in force

Depositary: Portugal

Primary source citation: 30 ILM 1227 (1990)@Z_FNOT ENTRY_3 = *( Translation provided by the American Society of International Law. )*



The Governments of the Kingdom of Spain, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Morocco, and the Portuguese Republic, and the European Economic Community, meeting at the conference for the Protection of Coasts and Waters of the Northeast Atlantic against Pollution due to Hydrocarbons or other Harmful Substances, held at Lisbon, October 17, 1990,

CONSCIOUS of the necessity to protect the human environment in general and the marine environment in particular,

RECOGNIZING that pollution of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances may threaten the marine environment in general and the interests of littoral states in particular,

NOTING that such pollution has many causes, but RECOGNIZING that special measures are necessary in the case of accidents and other occurrences of pollution due to ships as well as fixed or floating platforms,

CONCERNED to act promptly and efficaciously in the eventuality of an occurance of marine pollution, which threatens the coast or related interests of a littoral state, in order to reduce the harm caused by such an incident,

UNDERLINING the importance of effective preparation at the national level to combat incidents of pollution at sea,

RECOGNIZING FURTHER the importance of bringing about reciprocal assistance and international cooperation among the states for the purpose of protecting their coasts and related interests,

UNDERLINING also the importance of measures taken individually or jointly to minimize the risk of incidents of pollution at sea,

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the success of present regional accords, and especially, the plan of action of the European Community, aimed at bringing aid in the case of major pollution at sea due to hydrocarbons or other dangerous substances, have designated plenipotentiaries, who, having exchanged full powers in due form, have agreed to the following:


The contracting Parties of this Accord (hereafter designated ‘the Parties’) undertake individually, or jointly should the case arise, to take all measures required by this Accord to prepare themselves to encounter incidents of pollution due to hydrocarbons or other harmful substances.


For the purpose of this Accord:

The expression ‘incident of pollution’ means an event, or a series of events having the same cause, leading to a discharge or a threatened discharge of hydrocarbons or other harmful substances, causing or potentially causing damage to the marine environment, the coasts, or related interests of one or more of the Parties, requiring emergency action or any other immediate reaction.

The term ‘hydrocarbons’ means petroleum in all its forms, in particular, crude oil, fuel oil, muds, hydrocarbon residues, and refined products.

The expression ‘other harmful substances’ means all substances other than hydrocarbons, including dangerous waste products, the release of which into the marine environment may lead to injury to human health, to ecosystems or living resources, or to the coasts or related interests of the Parties.


The zone of application of this Accord is the region of the Northeast Atlantic defined by the outer limit of the exclusive economic zones of the contracting States and:

a) on the north, by an east-west line defined as follows: beginning at the southern point of Ile d'Ouessant, following parallel 48 degrees 27 minutes to its intersection with the southwest boundary of the Accord concerning Cooperation in Combatting Pollution in the North Sea by Hydrocarbons and other Dangerous Substances (the Bonn Accord); following the southwest boundary of that accord to its intersection with the line of demarcation of the continental shelf between France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland defined by the arbitral decision of June 30, 1977; following that line of demarcation to its western extremity situated at the north point of coordinates 48 degrees 6 minutes north and 9 degrees 36 minutes 30 seconds west;

b) on the east, by the western limit of the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (the Barcelona Convention) of February 16, 1976;

c) on the south, by the southern limit of waters subject to the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco.


1) Each State Party of this Accord shall put in place on its territory in collaboration, if necessary, with concerned industries, including maritime transportation, as well as with other entities, and maintain in working order at predetermined points, a minimum volume of materiel to cope with discharges of hydrocarbons or other harmful substances.

2) Each of the Parties shall set in place a national system for preventing and combatting incidents of pollution at sea. This system encompasses:

a) the identification of the administrative organization and responsibility of each of its elements for the preparation and implementation of measures of prevention and combat, and in particular, the national authority charged with dealing with other Parties on questions of mutual assistance;

b) the designation of a national operational contact charged with the sending and receiving of reports regarding incidents of pollution at sea, as set down in article 8(3) of this Accord;

c) a national plan of intervention aimed at preventing or coping with such incidents of pollution, including but not limited to:

i) determination of probable sources of discharge of hydrocarbons or other harmful substances;

ii) definition of sensitive zones and vulnerable resources as well as of priorities for their protection;

iii) identification of available human and material resources;

iv) determination of means for storing and eliminating hydrocarbons or other harmful substances recovered.

3) In addition, each of the Parties, individually or within the framework of bilateral or multilateral cooperation, shall put in place personnel training programs aimed at increasing the state of readiness of those charged with handling incidents of pollution.


1) The Parties shall jointly develop and establish guidelines on the practical, technical, and operational aspects of joint action.

2) To facilitate active cooperation each Party undertakes to furnish to the other Parties the information noted in article 4(2) (a) and 4(2) (b) as well as information on:

a) its national means (equipment and personnel) dedicated to preventing or confronting incidents of pollution, of which a part may be made available for international assistance during such incidents under conditions to be determined by the Parties concerned;

b) new and efficacious methods for preventing and confronting such pollution;

c) the major incidents of pollution that required its intervention.


The cooperation provided for in the preceding article applies as well to a loss at sea of harmful substances placed in packages, freight containers, portable receptacles, or truck, trailer, or railroad tanks.


1) Each of the Parties shall require of its competent officials, as well as of captains or other competent officials on ships flying the national flag or on marine platforms situated within its jurisdiction, prompt notice of any incident on such ships or platforms entailing a discharge or threatened discharge of hydrocarbons or other harmful substances. In the case of ships these reports will conform to pertinent dispositions developed by the International Maritime Organization.

2) Each of the Parties shall instruct ships or aircraft subject to its maritime inspection or other services to report without delay any incident of pollution observed by them due to hydrocarbons or other harmful substances.

3) Each Party shall request of captains of ships flying the national flag as well as of pilots of aircraft registered in the country to give notice without delay of the presence, nature, and extent of hydrocarbons or other harmful substances observed which might constitute a threat to the coast or related interests of one or more of the Parties.


1) For the purpose of this Accord only the northeast Atlantic region is divided into zones as they are defined in Annex 1 of this Accord.

2) The Party in whose zone an incident of pollution takes place shall undertake the necessary evaluations of its nature, importance, and probable consequences.

3) When warranted by the importance of the incident of pollution, the Party concerned shall immediately inform all other Parties through their operational points of contact of all actions taken to combat the hydrocarbons or other harmful substances. It shall maintain observation of these substances as long as they are present in its zone and keep the other Parties informed of the progress of the incident of pollution as well as of measures taken or anticipated.

4) When the slick of hydrocarbons or derived substances moves into a neighboring zone, the responsibility for evaluation and notification to other Parties stipulated above is transferred to the Party where the hydrocarbons or substances are next found, absent contrary agreement between the Parties concerned.


1) The Parties may designate zones of joint interest.

2) If pollution occurs in a joint zone, the Party in whose zone the incident occurs immediately informs the neighboring party as required by article 8(3) and invites that Party to take part in evaluating the nature of the incident and in deciding whether it should be considered of such scope and gravity that joint action by the two Parties is warranted.

3) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this article, the responsibility for initiating such joint action falls on the Party in whose zone the incident occurs. That Party designates an authority and charges it with coordinating the action; the latter then assumes responsibility, requesting all assistance that may be necessary, and coordinating available resources. Within its means the neighboring Party provides the assistance required; it also designates an authority for cooperative action.

4) Absent an agreement with the Party in whose zone of responsibility an incident occurs, the neighboring Party may assume responsibility for the coordination of the action when:

a) the neighboring Party is directly threatened by the incident, or

b) the flag of the neighboring Party is flown by the ships or ships in question, or

c) the neighboring Party has greater resources capable of being engaged in the operation.

When the provisions of this paragraph are utilized, the Party in whose zone of responsibility the incident occurs renders all necessary assistance to the Party assuming responsibility for the action.


A Party in need of aid in the event of a real or threatened incident of pollution at sea or on its coasts may request the cooperation of other Parties. With the advice of other Parties, should the case arise, the requesting Party shall detail the kind of aid needed. The Parties whose cooperation is requested under this article shall make every effort possible within their means to effect that cooperation, bearing in mind the technical resources at their disposal, especially in the case of harmful substances other than hydrocarbons.


1) No provision of this Accord shall in any way impair the sovereignty of the States over their territorial waters, or the jurisdiction and sovereign rights they exercise over their exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in conformity with international law, or the rights of navigation of ships and aircraft of all nations as governed by international law and applicable international instruments.

2) In no case may the division into zones provided for in articles 8 and 9 of this Accord be invoked as precedent or argument regarding sovereignty or jurisdiction.


Each of the Parties shall develop means of maritime surveillance by instituting maritime traffic services. To this end the parties shall consult together as well as participate actively in studies necessary to this development conducted by competent international bodies, including studies bearing on the interconnection of national maritime traffic services.


1) In the absence of a bilateral or multilateral agreement that might be concluded relating to financial arrangements governing the actions of the Parties in combatting marine pollution, the Parties shall defray the expenses of their respective actions in combatting such pollution according to the following principles:

a) if an action is undertaken by a Party at the express request of another, the requesting Party shall reimburse the other for the costs of the action;

b) if an action is undertaken by a single Party, that Party shall defray the costs entailed in the action;

c) if an action is undertaken in a zone of joint interest by Parties concerned with that zone as defined in article 9, each shall defray the cost of its own actions.

2) A Party requesting aid may withdraw the request at any time; in that case it shall defray costs already incurred or committed by the assisting Party.

3) Absent contrary agreement, costs entailed in an action undertaken by a Party at the express request of another will be calculated, using expertise where appropriate, according to the law and practice in force in the assisting state for reimbursement of such expenses.


1) In no case may article 13 of this Accord be interpreted as prejudicing the right of the Parties to recover from third persons expenses of actions taken to cope with real or threatened incidents of pollution, according to applicable municipal and international law.

2) The Parties may cooperate and offer mutual assistance in recovering these costs.


1) The meetings of the Parties to this Accord will take place at regular intervals, or by reason of special circumstances, as decided according to the rules of procedure.

2) At their first meetings the Parties will develop procedural and budgetary rules to be adopted by unanimous vote.

3) The depositary government shall convoke the first meeting of the Parties as soon as possible after the entry in force of this Accord.


In matters arising within its competence the European Economic Community will exercise voting rights in number equal to the number of its members who are Parties to this Accord. The Community will not exercise its right to vote in cases where its member States exercise theirs, and vice versa.


The meetings of the Parties shall:

a) exercise general supervision over the implementation of this accord;

b) regularly examine the effectiveness of measures taken under this Accord;

c) seek as soon as practicable to identify and define zones that should be considered particularly sensitive because of their environmental characteristics;

d) exercise all other functions that may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Accord.


1) An International Center shall be established for the purpose of aiding the States Parties to react rapidly and effectively to incidents of pollution.

2) The Center, located in the depositary State, will cooperate with entities located in the other Parties to assure such rapid and effective response in the entire region covered by this Accord, and should the case arise, beyond it.

3) The meeting of the Parties will define the functions of the Center based on the considerations set forth in Annex 2.


1) The International Center will develop for the Parties appropriate proposals for improving the mobility and the complementarity of their materiel.

2) These recommendations will focus especially on the renewal and increase of that materiel.


1) Without prejudice to the provisions of Annex 1(3) of this Accord, every proposal to amend this Accord or its annexes will be examined at a meeting of the Parties. After adoption of the proposal by unanimous vote the Parties will be informed of the amendment by the depositary Government.

2) Such amendment enters into force on the first day of the second month following the date of notice to the depositary Government of its approval by all of the contracting Parties.


1) Each Party shall contribute 2.5% toward the operational expenses of the Secretariat of this Accord mentioned at Annex 2(7). Two-thirds of the balance of these expenses will be defrayed by the depositary Government and one-third by the other States as follows:

by the Kingdom of Spain, 40 percent

by the French Republic, 40 percent

by the Kingdom of Morocco, 20 percent

2) The other functions of the Center mentioned in Annex 2 will be defrayed to the extent permitted by voluntary contributions of the Parties in amounts set at the meeting of the contracting Parties.


1) The signatory States and the European Economic Community become Parties to this Accord either by signature without reserving ratification, acceptance or approval, or by signature subject to ratification, acceptance or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval.

2) Instruments of ratification, acceptance, or approval will be deposited with the Government of Portugal.

3) This Accord enters into force on the first day of the second month following the date on which all signatory States and the European Economic Community have signed without reserving ratification, acceptance, or approval, or have deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval.


1) The Parties may unanimously invite any other littoral state of the Northeast Atlantic to accede to this Accord.

2) In that case articles 3 and 21 of this Accord and Annex 1 will be amended. The amendments will be adopted by unanimous vote of the contracting Parties, and they will take effect at the entry in force of this Accord for the acceding State.


1) This Accord enters into force for an acceding State on the first day of the second month following the date of deposit of its instrument of accession.

2) Instruments of adhesion will be deposited with the Government of Portugal.


1) This Accord may be denounced by any Party after a period of five years.

2) The denunciation is effected by written notice to the depositary Government, which will notify the other Parties of each denunciation and the date of its receipt.

3) A denunciation takes effect one year after notification is received by the depositary Government.


The depositary Government shall inform signing and acceding States as well as the European Economic Community:

a) of all signatures to this Accord;

b) of the deposit of all instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accesion, and of the receipt of notices of denunciation;

c) of the date of entry in force of this Accord;

d) of the receipt of notifications of approval of amendments to this Accord or its Annexes and the date of entry into force of these amendments.


The original of this Accord, rendered in Arabic, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, the French text prevailing in case of divergence, will be deposited with the Government of Portugal, which will deliver certified copies to the contracting Parties and transmit a certified copy to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for registration and publication in keeping with article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

In witness whereof the undersigned plenipotentiaries have signed this Accord and placed their seals.


Done at Lisbon, October 17, 1990.


1) Apart from bilateral agreements concluded between the contracting States, the zones provided for in article 8(1) correspond to the exclusive economic zones of the contracting States.

2) Bilateral agreements that may be concluded in accordance with the preceding paragraph will be sent to the depositary Government who will transmit them to the contracting Parties. They will enter in force for all contracting Parties, unless within three months of said transmission a contracting Party raises an objection or requests consultations in the matter.

3) Two or more State Parties may modify the common boundary of their zones as defined in this Annex. Such modifications will enter in force for all Parties on the first day of the sixth month following the date of its communication by the depositary Government, unless within three months after that communication a Party raises an objection or requests consultations regarding it.

ANNEX 2 Considerations Defining the Functions of the International Center

1) Establishment of close working relationships with other national and international centers in the region covered by the Accord, and where appropriate, beyond it.

2) On the basis of that principle, and employing all resources existent in the region, coordination of national and regional operations of training, technical cooperation, and expertise in case of emergency.