Cartagena Convention

Our office in Kingston, Jamaica is the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols.

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Status of Ratification

The Cartagena Convention has been ratified by 26 United Nations Member States in the Wider Caribbean Region. It covers the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the areas of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent thereto, south of 30 north latitude and within 200 nautical miles of the Atlantic Coasts of the States.

Scroll down to view a List of Countries and Dates of Ratification for the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols.  

The process for ratification can be reviewed here


What is the Cartagena Convention?

The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) or Cartagena Convention is a regional legal agreement for the protection of the Caribbean Sea. 

The Convention was adopted in Cartagena, Colombia on 24 March 1983 and entered into force on 11 October 1986.

The Convention is supported by three technical agreements or Protocols on Oil Spills, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution (LBS).

  1. The Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region was adopted in 1983 and entered into force on 11 October 1986.
  2. The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the Wider Caribbean Region was adopted on 18 January 1990 and entered into force on 18 June 2000.
  3. The Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities was adopted on 6 October 1999 and entered into force on 13 August 2010.

The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) was established in 1986 in Kingston, Jamaica and is the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols. 


What are Regional Activity Centres?

Each Protocol of the Cartagena Convention is served by one or more Regional Activity Centres (RACs). These centres are based in:

  • Curacao (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean, RAC REMPEITC Caribe) for the Oil Spills Protocol;
  • Guadeloupe (SPAW-RAC) for the Marine Biodiversity or SPAW Protocol;
  • Cuba (Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) for the Pollution or LBS Protocol;
  • Trinidad and Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs), also for the Pollution or LBS Protocol.


These centres provide technical support and expertise to assist Contracting Parties in meeting their obligations to the Convention and its Protocols. Other regional agencies provide additional technical assistance as part of a Regional Activity Network (RAN).


What does the Cartagena Convention focus on?

The Convention covers several aspects of marine pollution for which the Contracting Parties must adopt specific measures. These measures include to prevent, reduce and control: 

  • pollution from ships
  • pollution caused by dumping
  • pollution from sea-bed activities
  • airborne pollution
  • pollution from land-based sources and activities

Countries who are Contracting Parties to the Convention are also required to:

  • protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems and habitats of depleted, threatened or endangered species; and
  • develop technical and other guidelines for the planning and environmental impact assessments of important development projects.


Cartagena Convention and Global Environmental Agreements

The Cartagena Convention works in support of other global environmental conventions, agreements and commitments such as:

UN Environment Agreements

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)
  • RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
  • Stockholm Convention on chemicals management
  • Basel Convention on hazardous waste

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Agreements

  • MARPOL Convention on ship-generated wastes
  • Ballast Water Convention
  • London Convention 

Global Agreements and Commitments

  • Agenda 21
  • Barbados Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Programme of Action
  • Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI)
  • RIO + 20
  • Samoa Outcome for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
  • Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA)
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Status of ratification of the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols (please scroll down for more information)

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Last Updated: June 2019

N.B. The International Treaties Group updates this information periodically on the website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This can be accessed at: