Document Type


Publication Date



Deep seabed mining, ISA, UNCLOS, DSM, common heritage of mankind, sponsoring state, liability


This article will focus on liabilities for the Area and examine the question of liability for the various actors involved, including contractors/operators who carry out the exploitation of resources, sponsoring States, flag States, and the International Seabed Authority. It is necessary to analyze the current state of liability provisions, should environmental damage occur in the Area. The rapid pace of technological advancement and the unknown extent of environmental damage make a fulsome liability regime necessary. Unfortunately, as will be shown in this article, there are still extensive unknowns in the legal landscape. This article will investigate two areas of liability: the standard of liability (strict, negligence, and whether there is a potential for a due diligence defense, active act, or mens rea requirements) and the extent of liability (limited or unlimited damage claim potentials). The UNCLOS seems to provide for one type of liability for operators, but the subsequent legislation, as will be shown, seems to “water down” liabilities, making a detailed analysis required.

Publication Abbreviation

Ocean YB