Barcelona Convention

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The Barcelona Convention (The Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution) of 16 February 1976, amended on 10 June 1995, and the Protocols drawn up in line with this Convention aim to protect and improve the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean, whilst promoting regional and national plans contributing to sustainable development. The 22 Contracting Parties will individually or jointly take all appropriate measures to protect and improve the Mediterranean marine environment in order to contribute to sustainable development. In order to meet this objective, the Parties undertake to reduce, combat and, as far as possible, eliminate pollution in this area.

Contracting Parties

Participating Countries
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • the European Community
  • France
  • Greece
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malta
  • Morocco
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey


  • The extension of the Convention's geographical field of application to the coast
  • The application of the precautionary principle
  • The application of the "polluter pays" principle
  • The promotion of impact assessments
  • The protection and preservation of biological diversity
  • Combating pollution from cross-border movements of dangerous waste
  • Access to information and public participation


  • Assessing and controlling pollution
  • Carrying out the sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources
  • Integrating the environment into economic and social development
  • Protecting the marine environment and coastal regions through action aimed at preventing and reducing pollution and, as far as posiible, eliminating it, whether it is due to activities on land or at sea
  • Protecting natural and cultural heritage
  • Strengthening solidarity between countries bordering the Mediterranean
  • Contributing to improving quality of life


The Contracting Parties

  • Introduce a system of cooperation and information to reduce or eliminate pollution resulting from a critical situation in the Mediterranean
  • Establish a continuous pollution monitoring system
  • Cooperate in the fields of science and technology
  • Work out appropriate procedures for the determination of liability and compensation for damage resulting from pollution deriving from violations of the provisions of the Convention
  • Draft procedures enabling them to monitor application of the Convention


Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft

Dumping of certain types of waste and matter (toxic organohalogen and organosilicon compounds, mercury, cadmium, plastics, crude oil, etc.) is prohibited. Dumping of other matter or types of waste (arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, chrome, nickel, containers, scrap metal, certain types of pesticides, etc.) is subject to the prior issue of a permit by the competent national authorities. Such permits may be issued only after careful consideration of a number of factors (characteristics and composition of the matter, characteristics of dumping site and method of deposit, general considerations and conditions).

Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency

This Protocol stipulates that the Parties will cooperate when a huge quantity of oil and/or other harmful substances in the Mediterranean Sea, whether accidental or cumulative, presents a serious and imminent danger to the marine environment, the coast or the economic, health or ecological interests of one or more Parties. This cooperation focuses on drawing up emergency plans, promoting measures for combating oil pollution in the sea, monitoring and exchanging information regarding the state of the Mediterranean Sea, disseminating information on the organisation of resources and on new methods to prevent and combat pollution, and developing research programmes on the subject.

Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources

The purpose of this Protocol is to combat pollution in the Mediterranean Sea caused by discharges from rivers, outfalls, canals or other watercourses, or pollution emanating from any other source or activity within the territory of the States Party to the Protocol. The Protocol also stipulates cooperation regarding research and information, and the adoption of appropriate programmes, measures and standards aimed at reducing or eliminating the targeted substances.

Protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean

The Protocol concerning specially protected areas in the Mediterranean protects natural resources in the Mediterranean region, preserves the diversity of the gene pool and protects certain natural sites by creating a series of specially preserved areas. The Protocol makes a distinction between specially protected areas and specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance. It stipulates that the Parties develop guidelines for establishing and managing protected areas and lists a certain number of appropriate measures which the Parties must adopt, including:

  • Prohibiting the discharge or unloading of waste
  • Regulating shipping operations
  • Regulating the introduction of any non-indigenous or genetically modified species
  • Any other measures protecting the ecological and biological processes and the countryside

Furthermore, it introduces national or local measures which the Parties must take in order to protect animal and plant species throughout the Mediterranean area.

Protocol concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea

This Protocol updates the legal mechanisms in the Barcelona Convention by incorporating in it measures concerning cooperation between Parties regarding prevention and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution in the Mediterranean caused by ships. It also endeavours to promote the development and implementation of international regulations adopted in the framework of the International Maritime Organization. Cooperation focuses on maintaining and promoting emergency plans and other means for preventing and combating pollution from ships, adequate monitoring of the Mediterranean Sea, efforts to recover harmful and potentially dangerous substances, as well as disseminating and exchanging information. The Protocol also stipulates operational measures which the Parties must take in the event of pollution caused by ships (evaluation, elimination/reduction, information measures), as well as emergency measures which must be taken on board ships, in offshore installations and in ports (in particular the availability of and compliance with emergency plans).

Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean

This Protocol, which aims at establishing a common framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean, entered into force on 24 March 2011. It is the first instrument of international law to be entirely and solely devoted to ICZM.

ICZM has six aims:

  1. Sustainable development of coastal zones by rational planning of activities
  2. Preservation of coastal zones
  3. Sustainable use of natural resources
  4. Preservation of ecosystems and coastlines
  5. Prevention and reduction of natural disasters and climate change
  6. Improvement of cooperation

References/External links