The 2010 HNS Convention

The MSC Chitra incident (Image courtesy of ITOPF)

The transport of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) by sea is a vital trade. Chemicals and other products underpin many manufacturing processes and thanks to IMO regulations, they are transported safely. However, incidents do happen and, when they do, victims need to be adequately and efficiently compensated. Despite this, currently there is no comprehensive and international regime in force as the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 was never ratified by sufficient number of States.

In April 2010, an international conference on the revision of the HNS Convention adopted the Protocol of 2010 to the HNS Convention (2010 HNS Protocol), that was designed to address practical problems that had prevented many States from ratifying the original Convention.

Given the IOPC Funds' long experience in managing the oil pollution compensation system and, as requested by the International Conference that adopted the Protocol, the IOPC Funds' Secretariat has been tasked with assisting the IMO Secretariat in setting up the HNS Fund and with making preparations for the first session of the HNS Assembly.

The IOPC Funds continues to work together with the IMO Secretariat to assist States' ratification of or accession to the Protocol in order to facilitate the entry into force of the 2010 HNS Convention as soon as possible. It is not unusual for an international treaty to take several years to enter into force and the 2010 HNS Protocol is relatively new.

In order to assist States, reporting guidelines and model reporting forms for providing data on the total quantities of contributing cargo received in a State have been adopted and published. In addition, an online database (the HNS Finder) of HNS substances that fall within the definition of contributing cargo under the 2010 HNS Protocol has been developed and made available. Importantly, engagement with States considering ratifying the Protocol and the industry stakeholders potentially affected by the Convention has continued through workshops and other means.

The most recent activities undertaken to assist with the ratification of the Protocol as well as general information on the HNS Convention and the 2010 HNS Protocol is available at: www.hnsconvention.org. This website, managed and maintained by the IOPC Funds, is home to the HNS Finder and provides access to the HNS blog, established by the Funds' Secretariat, to facilitate communication between the members of the Correspondence Group, established by the IMO Legal Committee, which advocates for the ratification of the 2010 HNS Protocol through information and experience sharing.