The Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (OPRC-HNS 2000) follows the principles of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC 1990) and was formally adopted by States already Party to the OPRC Convention at a Diplomatic Conference held at International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London in March 2000. The OPRC-HNS 2000 came into force on the 14th of June, 2007. Today, more than eighteen years after the adoption of the OPRC-HNS 2000 and more than ten years after it came into force, 39 States have become parties to the Convention. This is not a high rate of adherence to the Convention, but it is admittedly also not a bad adherence rate considering the time it took the OPRC-HNS 2000 to come into force. Together with the OPRC 1990, the OPRC-HNS 2000 is intended to provide a framework for international co-operation in establishing systems for preparedness and response at the national, regional and global levels; in improving scientific and technological understanding and knowledge in this field; in promoting technical co-operation in response techniques; and, in developing specialized training programmes. This calls for regional co-operation. However, in the Eastern African region, only Mauritius and Madagascar are, currently, State parties to the OPRC-HNS 2000.
States acceding the the OPRC-HNS 2000 will derive benefits such as:
Access to an international platform for co-operation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to Major HNS pollution incidents and a mechanism for establishing co-operative arrangements with other States.
A means for urgently accessing technical assistance and response in the event of an HNS incident.
A framework for the development of national and regional capacity to prepare and respond to HNS incidents.
Participation in a network for the exchange of new research and development information, best practices and practical experiences in HNS response.
Access to training and support for developing the essential preparedness and response structures and legislation at national and regional levels through IMO's Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme.