Message to the Senate Transmitting Protocols to the Oil Pollution Damage Conventions

November 5, 1985

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Protocol of 1984 to Amend the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969 (Civil Liability Convention) and the Protocol of 1984 to Amend the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971 (Fund Convention). The Department of State has prepared a Technical Report on the Protocols, which is attached for the information of the Senate.

The 1984 Protocols to the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions are intended to revise and update the international system of liability and compensation for damage caused by vessel source oil pollution. In light of worldwide experience with costly oil spills since the conventions were first negotiated, they both required substantial amendment to raise their liability and compensation limits. The maximum liability and compensation limits contained in the new Protocols are approximately four times higher than in the original conventions and are now deemed sufficient to compensate all legitimate claimants with regard to any oil spill likely to occur in waters off the coasts of the United States. These new limits would provide substantially greater levels of compensation for United States citizens who sustain oil pollution damage than is currently available under existing domestic statutes or voluntary industry mechanisms.

A United States understanding of the term ``pollution damage'' and declarations by which the United States would exercise the option under the Protocols to delay the effective date of our instruments of ratification, are included in the Technical Report of the Department of State for consideration of the Senate. If approved, these declarations and understanding would be appended to the United States instruments of ratification.

Expeditious ratification of the 1984 Protocols would demonstrate not only our interest in assuring compensation for United States citizens who sustain oil pollution damage, but also our commitment to higher, uniform international standards for mitigating such damage which can be generally accepted worldwide.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the 1984 Protocols to the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions and give its advice and consent to ratification.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

November 5, 1985.