Arbitrators Appointed in the Mauritius v UK Case concerning the Chagos Islands

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The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has announced (see press release here)  that its President has appointed three arbitrators to serve as members of the arbitral tribunal which will hear the dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom concerning the ‘Marine Protected Area’ around the Chagos Islands. The dispute concerns the creation by the UK of a Maritime Protected Area (MPA) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)  around the Chagos Islands Archipelogo. Mauritius, which claims sovereignty over the Chagos Islands,  submitted the dispute to an Annex VII arbitral Tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It claims that the UK is not competent to create the MPA and that only Mauritius is entitled to create an EEZ around the Chagos Islands. Readers can find analysis of the case in a piece written on this blog  last month by my colleague Irini Papanicolopulu. According to the ITLOS Press Release:

The arbitrators are Ivan Shearer (Australia), James Kateka (Tanzania), and Albert Hoffmann (South Africa). The President appointed Ivan Shearer as the president of the arbitral tribunal. These appointments were made in consultation with the two parties to the dispute.

James Kateka and Albert Hoffan are both judges of ITLOS and Ivan Shearer, who is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Sydney has been ad hoc judge at ITLOS in two cases. The rest of the press release explains that:

In accordance with article 3 of Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the appointment of one or more of the members of the tribunal to be appointed by agreement, or on the appointment of the president of the arbitral tribunal, these appointments shall be made by the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at the request of a party to the dispute and in consultation with the parties.

In a letter dated 21 February 2011, the Solicitor-General of Mauritius, acting on behalf of the Government of Mauritius, requested the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to appoint the three arbitrators, since the two parties were unable to reach an agreement thereon.

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