Liability and Redress for Human-Induced Global Warming – Towards an International Regime

Stanford Journal of International Law, 1 January 2007

This article is divided into four main sections. The first section introduces the process currently under way under the Biosafety Protocol towards the adoption of a liability and redress regime as well as some of the issues that member states need to address in this context. The second section moves on to highlight some of the substantive issues that need to be addressed in the development of a liability and redress regime in the field of modern biotechnology. These include the question of environmental damage, a central concern in an environmental treaty, as well as other equally important issues such as risks to human health, socio-economic aspects and the question of patent liability. The third section analyses existing legal frameworks to highlight some rules and principles that current negotiations on liability in the context of the Biosafety Protocol can use as models. It examines international environmental civil liability regimes whose general structure provides an appropriate starting point for liability and redress in biotechnology. It then analyses some existing liability regimes in the field of biotechnology which provide more specific pointers for the development of a biotechnology-related liability regime. The last section examines some of the points that need to be addressed in the context of the ongoing development of a liability and redress regime under the Biosafety Protocol. These include a number of elements within the environmental liability regime which need to be adapted to the field of biotechnology as well as issues concerning the link between environmental liability and patent liability, an issue of increasing importance at the national and international levels.