Environmental Liability for Carriage of Hazardous Substances/Wastes by Sea


Hui Yu

Date of Award


Document Type



Damage to the marine environment caused during the transportation of hazardous substances/wastes by sea represents a matter of global environmental concern. The Draft International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) by Sea, presently under negotiation within International Maritime Organization (IMO), is of great significance both for the implementation of the existing international regulations on the carriage of dangerous and hazardous cargoes, and as an aspect in the progressive development of liability regimes in international environmental law. Traditionally, liability regimes have not dealt directly with damage to the environment as a basis for a claim about a property interest. The draft HNS Convention is similarly limited. This Thesis proposes that the political-legal concept of common heritage of humankind should be expanded to apply not only to persons and property in areas beyond national jurisdiction, but also to the global environment as a whole. This would then establish a basis for imposing liability for damage to the areas beyond the national jurisdiction as well as to the environment itself. This requires that individual, State as well as humanity as a whole should be regarded as subjects of international law, and thus all subjects would possess the right to a healthy environment, and would bear the responsibility and liability for causing environmental damage. A comprehensive liability regime, which includes both individual liability and collective liability, should be established to address an increasing number of transboundary environmental damage problems. It is argued that the draft HNS Convention should be revised to reflect this approach in order to fully address the reality of shared international concerns and responsibility for the environment.


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