At the request of the International Seabed Authority, in 2011 the Seabed Dispute Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea rendered its first Advisory Opinion: to clarify the ambiguous rules of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning the obligations and liabilities of a sponsoring State in the development of the international seabed area. According to the Opinion, the sponsoring State’s ‘obligation to ensure’ is an obligation of conduct and due diligence; the sponsoring State should take necessary and appropriate measures to fulfill the obligation under its domestic legal system; obligations and liabilities shall apply equally to the developed and developing States; the sponsoring State could avoid strict liability and compensation when fulfilling its ‘obligation to ensure’ due to the due diligence nature of the obligation. In light of this new development in the law concerning the international seabed area, East Asian States should take measures to improve their legislation and administration accordingly.
In 1972, the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention) was negotiated. It is a global treaty, for the first time, to regulate dumping of waste at sea worldwide. Following this global endeavor, the Protocol to the London Convention (London Protocol) was later agreed to further modernize the London Convention so as to reinforce the management of dumping of waste at sea. While in East Asia, only China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Philippines have acceded to the Convention and its Protocol, other countries do not show their willingness to sign them. Against this background, this article will address the responses of these East Asian states to the implementation of the London Convention, and analyze and assess their relevant laws and regulations with particular reference to China’s practice. In addition, it will focus on new challenges, such as offshore carbon storage, to the London Convention.
As a State Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China adheres to the principle of the common heritage of mankind and supports the International Seabed Authority functioning to organize and control activities in the Area. According to international law, domestic legislation on the Area is a substantial requirement for obligations/responsibilities and exemption from liability of a sponsoring State. China has a sound legal base for legislation on the Area’s activities and is accelerating the process of legislation on this field in recent years. This paper will introduce the background and process of the nation’s legislation and examine the framework of the law on activities in the Area. Specific issues under the law pertain to relevant considerations, structure, objectives, principles and key elements. The follow-up efforts of China’s legislation on activities in the Area are also briefly mentioned.