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The international regulations of vessel source oil pollution

The individual’s livelihood is related to many factors through which a healthy environment can be provided, including public health, food security, economic and social benefits, these factors are closely linked to the sustainable exploitation of marine environment resources [1]. In the same context, industrial production could affect marine ecosystems, which in turn could influence economic development [2].

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) [3] declare that the Earth's ecosystem [4] is in critical condition because of the socio-economic trends and population growth, as this problem may rapidly escalate in the coming period [5].

The international revolution of the oil industry achieved a great and radical development in the world [6] and large volumes of oil are traded by sea annually [7] This development will result to be a global concern and extreme environmental distractive due to frequent oil spills from tankers [8].

It can be said that despite all the safety measures taken as required by the international regulations, incidents are likely to occur to oil laden tankers, thus leading to oil spills resulting in pollution. In the same respect, it became clear that these oil spills had a serious impact on public and personal interests [9]. To this point, many questions have been speculated regarding the compensations for oil pollution damages. This requires creating regulations that provide remedies to the civil claims arising from this problem [10].

International approach

At wide range, environmental legislations often have a special and critical situation other than other legislations. Large environmental problems such as pollution, are transboundary [11]. The international legislative cover works to provide justice to the marine pollution issues, especially that the nature, ecosystem and individuals, do not recognize drawing borders [12]. The economic and commercial growth has multiplied ships’ movements in the oceans, which has led to serious marine pollution problems [13]. In addition, the fast expanding scale of possible spills due to the highly complex and transitional nature of the oil shipped by sea, has provided a powerful motive for adopting a system that gives a notion of an equal and uniform program to solve disputes and compensate for damages in the field [14]. The international community seeks to develop schemes to provide an adequate compensation regime for the oil pollution victims of the coastal states.

The international maritime organization (IMO) [15] adopted the first international convention regarding compensation and liability for oil pollution damage in 1969, i.e., the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1969 CLC), and developed a supplementary system providing additional compensation for any oil pollution damage through the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1971 which was established under the 1969 CLC [16]. The main objective of these conventions is to provide adequate compensation to coastal states and their citizens for damages arising from oil pollution resulting from a ship [17]. They provide a legal system that addresses the problem of transitional litigation, through regulating the liability jurisdiction and the appropriate applicable laws. Further, they determine the liability criterion and the liability limits [18].

In conclusion, the international law is often regarded as a model or standard law of the most national legal systems globally. However, states took their role in deriving published international principles to their national laws to make them more efficient and richer by one of two ways; either by codifying some of the important principles published in the international regime or by quoting some texts of international law to their national laws to become the applicable law as these conventions play an important role in improving the legal framework of domestic laws. Kuwait has been following this approach since the 1960s by making its relevant laws more compatible to the international conventions that it has signed and is still signing.


[1] EL SAYYED, MAHMOUD.K., Marine Environment, Arab Environment Future Challenges, Beirut, Technical Publications and Environment & Development magazine, 2008, p76.

[2] EL SAYYED, MAHMOUD.K., Marine Environment, Arab Environment Future Challenges, Beirut, Technical Publications and Environment & Development magazine, 2008, p76

[3] The Global Environment Facility was established on Rio Earth Summit 1992, its main work is to highlight and address the critical environmental problems. The Global Environment Facility, about us, Available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[4] The term ecosystem refers to the combined physical and biological components of an environment. These organisms form complex sets of relationships and function as a unit as they interact with their physical environment. The world health organisation, Climate change and human health, Ecosystem goods and services for health, Available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[5] The Global Environment Facility, New strategies for new challenges: The Global Environment Facility, fifth GEF assembly Mexico 2014, 2014, p5. Available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[6] S. Eric Lee, Waning Conventions: Remedying Natural Resource Damages Caused by Vessel-Source Oil Pollution under the Existing Regimes and the Need to Reconvene, TULANE MARITIME LA WJOURNAL, 2010, p295.

[7] See The International Maritime Organization, English, our work, marine environment, pollution prevention, oil pollution. Available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[8] Bergman, Samuel, No Fault Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 5 J. MAR. L. &CoM. 1, (1973), pp5-6

[9] R. Bhanu Krishna Kiran, Liability and Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage: An Examination of IMO Conventions, NUJS LAW REVIEW, 2010, p400.

[10] Christodoulou-Varotsi, Iliana. Marine Pollution Control; Legal and Managerial Frameworks, UK, Informa Law from Routledge, 1st Edition, 2018, p295.

[11] David D. Caron, Liability for Transnational Pollution Arising from Offshore Oil Development: A Methodological Approach, 10 Ecology L.Q. 641 (1983), p641.

[12] David S. Ardia, Does the Emperor Have No Clothes Enforcement of International Laws Protecting the Marine Environment, 19 Mich. J. Int'l L. 497 (1998), p497.

[13] Tan Khee, Alan, J. The Regulation of Vessel-Source Marine Pollution: Reconciling the Maritime and Coastal State Interests, 1 Sing. J. Int'l & Comp. L. p355 (1997).

[14] Horton Joshua B., Parker Andrew, Keith David. Liability for Solar Geo engineering: Historical Precedents, Contemporary Innovations, and Governance Possibilities, 22 N.Y.U. Envtl. L.J. 225 (2015), p215.

‘Coastal states’ the states which has sovereignty over its maritime zones, and in respect of the vessels located in. Al-Awadi, Badria.A, The general provisions of the international law of the sea and the legal system of the sea in the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait, Kuwait international law school, 2016, p33.

[15] The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is one of the United Nations’ (UN) specialised agencies. It is also an international controlling body which works to maintain safety in the shipping industry. See The International Maritime Organization, English, About IMO, available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[16] See Tumaini, S. Gurumo. Civil Liability Issues Arising from Spills of Oil Cargo: Are International Agreements the Best Solution for Common Problems? Tumaini, International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2013, p52. Available at cited on 14/8/2020.

[17] Rothwell, R. Donald, and Stephens, Tim. The international law of sea, Oxford and Portland, Oregon, Hart Publication Ltd, 2010, p367.

[18] Ibid.

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