All states have a general obligation to protect the environment, including the ocean floor. Coastal states have a right to regulate activities on their respective continental shelves, but beyond their areas of national jurisdiction the protection of the sea-bed (the Area) is an international and common responsibility. This area is the common heritage of mankind. The international community is becoming more and more aware of the need to protect the Ocean and its ocean floor. Much of the threat comes from human activities and is directly related to climate change.

So what are the legal implications of activities that threaten or cause damage to this common area? And what are the legal implications of environmental damage to Antarctica and its surrounding seas? Are the existing legal rules sufficient? Are they likely to prevent and repair harm to the environment? Do we need stronger rules?

Professor Rüdiger Wolfrum will discuss these challenges on environmental liability by comparing the Antarctic system with the one on deep-seabed mining.

Rüdiger Wolfrum

is professor of international law at the Heidelberg University Faculty of Law, a managing director of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law and director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. He was a judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in 1996-2017, and its president in 2005-2008. After law studies at the universities of Tübingen and Bonn Wolfrum earned a PhD in International Law in 1973. He was the Vice President of the German Research Foundation from 1996 to 2002, and Vice President of the Max Planck Society from 2002 to 2006. Mr. Wolfrum is President of the German Society for International Law, and has also been a member of numerous national and international councils and academies, such as the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Institut de Droit International. Besides his numerous offices, he has acted as a United Nations mediator in the Darfur conflict. He holds honorary degrees of the Russian Academy of Sciences, of the Mongolian Shihutug Law College, the University of Hamburg, and of the University of Pretoria. In 2008, he was awarded the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

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