Harm to the Environment: The Right to Compensation and the Assessment of Damages

By Peter Wetterstein | Go to book overview

3
Harm and Reparation in International Treaty Regimes: An Overview

BJÖRN SANDVIK AND SATU SUIKKARI*


1. INTRODUCTION

At the time of the negotiation of the first international civil liability treaties it was envisaged that the type of damage to be compensated would concern individual rights in the strict sense: personal injury, and loss of or damage to property. It has long been recognized that the range of potential damage is much broader. Environmental incidents may involve high costs of preventive measures, the costs of cleaning up the contaminated environment, and the costs of reinstatement of the environment. Furthermore, economic losses or loss of profit as a result of the contamination of the environment, even when unrelated to personal or property damage, are often substantial. The experience of such incidents has required the drafters of international liability treaties to broaden the scope of compensable damage accordingly.

This Chapter aims at describing how the concept of environmental damage has been formulated in international civil liability regimes and other environmental treaties which address the question of liability for environmental damage. It should be emphasized that the purpose of this Chapter is to provide a general treaty overview only. The international civil liability treaties set up a general framework for a system of compensating damage, and the task of elaborating more detailed arrangements rests with the national authorities. Thus, a more profound treatment of the substantive liability issues would require not only a careful analysis of each treaty regime, but also a discussion on the national implementation of the treaty in question as well as on the interrelation between international treaty law and domestic law in this context. Such discussions are to be found in other chapters of this volume.

Areas regulated by existing civil liability treaties (as amended by additional protocols relevant to the concept of environmental damage) include:

____________________
*
The authors would like to thank Professor P. Wetterstein and Professor A. Rosas for helpful comments on this Ch.

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