International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

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BBNJ Treaty and the ITLOS Advisory Jurisdiction

The Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, convened in New York, adopted the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (“BBNJ Agreement” or “Agreement”) by consensus on 19 June 2023. Currently, the instrument has been signed by 84 States, including China, the UK, the USA, the European Union, and all its Members. This marks a significant breakthrough after years of lengthy negotiations and diplomatic efforts to protect marine biodiversity and promote its sustainable use in areas beyond national jurisdiction (“ABNJ”) covering almost two-thirds of the global oceans with all its riches and resources. The process began almost two decades ago, when the UN General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ. However, the intergovernmental conference was only convened by the UN General Assembly in…

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Small states, legal statecraft and opening submissions in the ITLOS climate change advisory proceedings

On Monday 11 September 2023 the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea began its historic hearing of oral statements in Request for an Advisory Opinion submitted by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law. The impassioned opening submissions given by the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu, the founding…

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EJIL:The Podcast! Episode 18 – “Be Careful What You Ask For”

In this episode Dapo Akande, Marko Milanovic and Philippa Webb are joined by Philippe Sands (University College London and 11KBW) and Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh (University of Amsterdam and University of the South Pacific). The focus is on the advisory function of international courts and tribunals. In December 2022, the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International…

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The Competence of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in its New Advisory Proceedings on Climate Change

On the sidelines of last year’s COP26, Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu concluded the Agreement for the Establishment of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (‘the Agreement’ establishing ‘the Commission’). The Agreement is open to signature by all 39 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, and currently also includes…

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Beyond COP26: Time for an Advisory Opinion on Climate Change?

The recent Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26) provided a stark reminder of the gap between states’ planned greenhouse emission reductions and the global temperature goal enshrined in the Paris Agreement. The conference also dramatically showcased once more the plight of vulnerable nations faced with the devastating impacts of rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

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