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The Convention covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships, and preparation for ship recycling in order to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships.

Under the treaty, ships to be sent for recycling are required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, specific to each ship. Ship recycling yards are required to provide a Ship Recycling Plan, specifying the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory.

See also: Transboundary movements for recycling: A tale of two regimes

Although it was adopted in 2009, the Hong Kong Convention is not in force yet. It will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval or have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Secretary-General.

Belgium, Congo, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Serbia and Turkey have so far ratified the treaty.