The International Spill Control Organization (ISCO) was granted observer status with the 1992 and Supplementary Funds at last month’s meeting of the governing bodies of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) held at the Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

The International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) provide financial compensation for oil pollution damage that occurs in Member States, resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers.


The history of the IOPC Funds began with the oil spill from the Torrey Canyon, which ran aground near the Scilly Isles in 1967, fouling UK and French coastlines. This incident exposed a number of serious shortcomings, in particular the absence of an international agreement on liability and compensation in the event of such a spill. It led the international community to establish, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a regime for compensation for victims of oil pollution.

The framework for the regime was the 1969 International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1969 Civil Liability Convention) and the 1971 International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution (1971 Fund Convention). Over time, it became clear that the amount of compensation available for major incidents needed to be increased and the scope of the regime widened. This resulted in two further instruments, known as the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 1992 Fund Convention. Following the Erika and Prestige incidents, a third instrument, the Protocol to the 1992 Fund Convention (Supplementary Fund Protocol), was adopted in 2003, providing additional compensation over and above that available under the 1992 Fund Convention for pollution damage in the States that become Parties to the Protocol.

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