The Convention

The Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (1986), known also as SPREP Convention or Noumea Convention, along with its two Protocols entered into force in 1990. The Convention is a comprehensive umbrella agreement for the protection, management and development of the marine and costal environment of the South Pacific Region and, it represents the legal framework of the 
Action Plan for managing the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific 
adopted in 1982 in behalf of the South Pacific Conference on Human Environment.

In order to define more specific obligations to control pollution from a discrete source and to co-operate in a specific aspect of environmental management, in 1990, the Parties also ratified the “Dumping” and the “Emergencies” Protocols. Both documents define a focused regulatory framework to avoid marine and costal pollution. 
The Noumea Convention is the Pacific region component of 
launched in 1972. The Programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment. In order to achieve this objective the Programme has functioned in with Action Plans which have been underpinned with a strong legal framework in the form of a regional Convention and associated Protocols on specific problems.
Objectives and Obligations
In order to protect the environment in the Pacific region, through the Noumea Convention the Parties agree to take all appropriate measures in conformity with international law to prevent, reduce and control pollution in the Convention Area from any source, and to ensure sound environmental management and development of natural resources. The adoption of appropriate measures includes: the establishment of laws and regulations for the effective discharge of the obbligations of the Convention, and the co-operation between countries in order to undertake activities that prevent, reduce and control pollution.

The Convention lists the source of pollution and other issues which require specific control from the countries: 
- pollution from vessels (art. 6)
- pollution from land based resources (art.7)
- pollution from sea-bed activities (art.8)
- airborne pollution (art. 9)
- disposal of wastes (art.10)
- storage of toxic and hazardous wastes (art.11)
- mining and costal erosion (art.13)
- specially protected areas and protection of wilf flora and fauna (art.14)
- combating pollution in cases of emergency (art.15)
- environmental impact assessment (art.16)

The Protocols 
A Protocol is an international legal instrument appended or closely related to another agreement, which constitutes a separate and additional agreement and which must be signed and ratified by Parties to the Convention concerned. Protocols typically strenghten a convention by adding new, more detailed committments. For this reason, the Noumea convention endorses the adoption of these instruments and other multilateral environmental agreements by the Parties. 
  • Art. 27: accroding to this article no State may become a Party to the Convention unless it becomes at the same time Party to one or more Protocols.  

Presently two protocols to the Convention are in force: 

1. Dumping Protocol
The Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution of the South Pacific Region by Dumping constitutes the instrument for the contracting Parties to meet the obligations of the Noumea Convention and the IMO Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter (1972). As derived from the title, the objective of the Protocol is to prevent, reduce and control pollution by dumping of wastes and other matter in the South Pacific.

Commitments for the parties:

  • The Parties agree to take all appropriate measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution in the Protocol Area by dumping (art. 3, para. 1).
  • Dumping within the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone or into the continental shelf of a Party as defined in international law is not to be carried out without the express prior approval of the Party (art. 3, para. 2).
  • The dumping in the Protocol Area of wastes or other matter listed in annex I to this Protocol is prohibited except as provided in this Protocol (art. 4, para. 1), while the dumping of matter listed in annex II to this Protocol requires, in each case, a prior special permit (art.5). 

2. Emergencies Protocol
The Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution Emergencies in the South Pacific Region has been ratified in Noumea in 1990 as part of the legal framework for the protection of the natural resources and environment defined with the Noumea Convention. The objective of this agreement is to enhance cooperation among the Parties to protect the South Pacific Region from threats and effects of pollution incidents.

Commitments for the parties:
  • to establish and maintain the means of preventing and combating pollution incidents, and reducing the risk thereof. Such means shall include the enactment, as necessary, of relevant legislation, the preparation of contingency plans, the development and strengthening of the capability to respond to pollution incidents and the designation of a national authority responsible for the implementation of the Protocol (art. 3.2).
  • to undertake periodically exchange with other Parties of current information relating to the implementation of this Protocol (art. 4).
  • to establish appropriate procedures to ensure that information regarding pollution incidents is reported as rapidly as possible (art.5.1).


Text of the Convention and Protocols

3. Amendments and new Protocols

An amendment is a modification or addition to an existing legal instrument. In 2006 an admendment to the Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution of the South Pacific by Dumping has been presented. The admendment has not yet been accepted by the Parties. 

a) In the Convention: 
"Any party may propose amendments to the Convention. This shall be adopted by a conference of plenipotentiaries which shall be convened by SPREP at the request of 2/3 of parties".

Admendment to the Protocol Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution of the South Pacific Region by Dumping

New Protocols to the Noumea Convention  (Not yet in force)

The 10th of November 2006 during the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries to the Noumea Convention the Parties have signed two new protocols, as new instruments to implement the provisions of the agreement. 
The two protocols, respectively the "Protocol on Oil Pollution preparadness, response and cooperation in the pacific region" and the "Protocol on hazardous and noxious substances polluttion, preparadness, response and cooperation in the pacific region", constitute a new committment of the Countries to take effective regional actions for the prevention of marine polluttion from two specific clusters of pollutants: oil, and hazardous and noxious substances. 
Considered their scope, and their allignment to new international requirements, these instruments are tought as a modern revision of the already in force protocols.
Therefore, once these will enter into force they will have the effect to substitute the previous one. 

Text of the new Protocols

Protocol on oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation in the pacific region
Protocol on hazardous and noxious substances pollution, Preparedness, response and cooperation in the pacific region.

Instruments for joining the Protocols and Amendments which are not yet in force:
Documents to join the Convention and the Protocols

Conference of the parties (COP) 

The meetings of the Parties of the Noumea Convention and Protocols is dealt within art. 22. 
The Parties shall hold ordinary meetings once every two years. Ordinary meetings shall review the implementation of this Convention and its Protocols and, in particular, shall:

a) assess the State of the environment in the Convention area;
b) consider co-operative activities to be undertaken within the framework of the Convention and Protocols, including their financial and institutional implications;
c) consider and undertake any additional action that may be required for the achievement of the purposes of the Convention and its Protocols; 

Major documents related to COP's work are: