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Limitations of National Responsibility and its Application on Marine Environmental Pollution beyond Borders -Focused on the Effects of China`s Three Gorges Dam on the Marine Environment in the East China Sea-
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  • Journal title : Ocean and Polar Research
  • Volume 37, Issue 4,  2015, pp.341-356
  • Publisher : Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology
  • DOI : 10.4217/OPR.2015.37.4.341
 Title & Authors
Limitations of National Responsibility and its Application on Marine Environmental Pollution beyond Borders -Focused on the Effects of China`s Three Gorges Dam on the Marine Environment in the East China Sea-
Yang, Hee Cheol;
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 Abstract
A nation has a sovereign right to develop and use its natural resources according to its policies with regard to development and the relevant environment. A nation also has an obligation not to harm other countries or damage environments of neighboring countries as consequences of such actions of developments or use of natural resources. However, international precedents induce a nation to take additional actions not to cause more damages from the specific acts causing environmental damages beyond national borders, when such acts have economic and social importance. That is to say that there is a tendency to resolve such issues in a way to promote the balance between the mutual interests by allowing such actions to continue. A solution to China`s Three Gorges Dam dilemma based on a soft law approach is more credible than relying on a good faith approach of national responsibilities and international legal proceedings since the construction and operation of the dam falls within the category of exercising national sovereign rights. If a large scale construction project such as the Three Gorges Dam or operation of a nuclear power plant causes or may cause environmental damage beyond the border of a nation engaged in such an undertaking, countries affected by this undertaking should jointly monitor the environmental effects in a spirit of cooperation rather than trying to stop the construction and should seek cooperative solutions of mutual understanding to establish measures to prevent further damages. If China`s Three Gorges Dam construction and operation cause or contain the possibility of causing serious damages to marine environment, China cannot set aside its national responsibility to meet international obligations if China is aware of or knows about the damage that has occurred or may occur but fail to prevent, minimize, reverse or eliminate additional chances of such damages, or fails to put in place measures in order to prevent the recurrence of such damages. However, Korea must be able to prove a causal relationship between the relevant actions and resulting damages if it is to raise objections to the construction or request certain damage-prevention actions against crucial adverse effects on the marine environment out of respect for China`s right to develop resources and acts of use thereof. Therefore, it is essential to cumulate continuous monitoring and evaluations information pertaining to marine environmental changes and impacts or responses of affected waters as well as acquisition of scientific baseline data with observed changes in such baseline. As China has adopted a somewhat nonchalant attitude toward taking adequate actions to protect against marine pollution risks or adverse effects caused by the construction and operation of China`s Three Gorges Dam, there is a need to persuade China to adopt a more active stance and become involved in the monitoring and co-investigation of the Yellow Sea in order to protect the marine environment. Moreover, there is a need to build a regular environmental monitoring system that includes the evaluation of environmental effects beyond borders. The Espoo Convention can serve as a mechanism to ease potential conflicts of national interest in the Northeast Asian waters where political and historical sensitivities are acute. Especially, the recent diplomatic policy advanced by Korea and China can be implemented as an important example of gentle cooperation as the policy tool of choice is based on regional cooperation or cooperation between different regions.
 Keywords
internationally wrongful act;Three Gorges Dam;Espoo Convention;UNCLOS;liability;soft law;
 Language
Korean
 Cited by
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