Recently, the Arctic has transformed from a peripheral region to an area of great interest, for instance in terms of oil drilling. Nonetheless, no legal instrument has addressed the matter of accountability for transfrontier oil pollution damage. This article accordingly evaluates whether the current legal constructs, meaning State responsibility, international liability, civil liability regimes, and multilateral environmental agreements, allow accountability to be established for transboundary environmental harm resulting from hydrocarbon exploitation in the Arctic. It also examines whether these constructions could serve as the basis for future legislative actions. This article treats these four constructions as layers of accountability. After examining all of the layers in their current formulation, this article asserts that the existing layers cannot establish accountability for transboundary environmental damage in the Arctic, nor do they as such offer an effective way to regulate accountability in the future. Therefore, the article concludes that the law of accountability necessitates a new approach, such as a non-compliance mechanism or hybrid system combining elements of multiple layers. Finally, the article calls for immediate legislative actions.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online