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The International Regime for the Compensation of Oil-pollution Damage: A Good Candidate to Have a Human Rights Law Approach?

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Abstract

Questions such as who is to be held liable for oil-spill damage, under which conditions and for which type of damage are currently highly debated and discussed by legal scholars and before national, European and international courts. While European Commission (EC) regulators have questioned the international civil liability regime for oil spills, some victims of harm caused by spills have been willing to circumvent the international regime in order to have national general rules of criminal law or the transposition of EC waste legislation applied. Noting the growing academic work on international liability mechanisms, and particularly the critical appraisal of the international regime, this article takes a different approach. It analyzes the compatibility of the international liability regime with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. Does the liability scheme set by the international regime fulfill the human rights requirements of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the European Court of Human Rights' caselaw? This article finds that it may not.

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