This paper explores a critical component of any liability and compensation regime, namely which actors, among the many involved in a particular activity, should ultimately be held liable for risks related to damage arising from a particular activity. The central question that this paper is concerned with is whether the current attribution of liability under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is adequate, or whether it would be preferable to also explicitly address the liability of other actors whose acts or omissions result in damage in some form or another.
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The Liability Issues for Deep Seabed Mining project was developed by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Secretariat of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to assist in clarifying legal issues of responsibility and liability underpinning the development of exploitation regulations for the deep seabed. CIGI, in collaboration with the ISA Secretariat and the Commonwealth Secretariat, in 2017, invited leading legal experts to form the Legal Working Group on Liability for Environmental Harm from Activities in the Area (LWG) to discuss liability related to environmental damage, with the goal of providing the Legal and Technical Commission, as well as members of the ISA with an in-depth examination of potential legal issues and avenues.