The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the ‘OSPAR Convention') was open for signature at the Ministerial Meeting of the Oslo and Paris Commissions in Paris on 22 September 1992. It was adopted together with a Final Declaration and an Action Plan.
The Convention has been signed and ratified by all of the Contracting Parties to the original Oslo or Paris Conventions (Belgium, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) along with Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Contained within the OSPAR Convention are a series of Annexes which deal with the following specific areas:
- Annex I: Prevention and elimination of pollution from land-based sources;
- Annex II: Prevention and elimination of pollution by dumping or incineration;
- Annex III: Prevention and elimination of pollution from offshore sources;
- Annex IV: Assessment of the quality of the marine environment;
- Annex V: On the protection and conservation of the ecosystems and biological diversity of the maritime area.
The OSPAR Convention entered into force on 25 March 1998. It replaces the Oslo and Paris Conventions but Decisions, Recommendations and all other agreements adopted under those Conventions continue to be applicable, and unaltered in their legal nature, unless they are terminated by new measures adopted under the 1992 OSPAR Convention. Working languages of the Convention are English and French.
The first Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission in Sintra, Portugal in 1998 adopted Annex V to the Convention, to extend the cooperation of the Contracting Parties to cover all human activities that might adversely affect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. In spite of this, programmes and measures cannot be adopted under the Convention on questions relating to fisheries management and there is a preference for issues related to shipping to be dealt with by the International Maritime Organisation.
In 2007 the OSPAR Commission adopted amendments to Annexes II and III to the Convention to allow the storage of carbon dioxide in geological formations under the seabed. In association with this OSPAR adopted OSPAR Decision 2007/01 to prohibit the storage of carbon dioxide streams in the water column or on the seabed, and OSPAR Decision 2007/02 on the storage of carbon dioxide streams in geological formations.
Links to other regional conventions: