International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

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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. In almost three decades, international climate change law – as enshrined in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement – struggled to deliver convincing solutions to either problem. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, addressing these glaring gaps in international cooperation is more urgent than ever. In 2019, Desierto called upon ‘the invisible college of international lawyers’ to devote more efforts ‘towards reviving the blunt edge’ of litigation, adjudication, and arbitration, in order to help tackle the climate emergency. Over the years, there has been much speculation on the possibility to resort to international courts’ contentious or advisory jurisdiction,…

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Unpacking Sovereignty and Self-determination in ITLOS and the ICC: A Bundle of Rights?

In a short space of time, two international courts have handed down rather dramatic decisions related to the contested issues of self-determination and sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago and Palestine, which have, for a very long time now, been under the UK and Israeli occupation respectively. On 28 January 2021, an ITLOS Special Chamber found…

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Rocks in the Law of the Sea: Some comments on the South China Sea Arbitration Award

Article 121(2) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) stipulates that “the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory.” According to the International Court of Justice, this rule has…

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The Curious Case of the ‘Legal Effect’ of ICJ Advisory Opinions in the Mauritius/Maldives Maritime Boundary Dispute

On Thursday 28 January, the ITLOS Special Chamber delivered its judgment on the admissibility of the Dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius/Maldives). One of the key issues was the Maldives’ contention that the ongoing dispute between Mauritius and the UK over the Chagos Islands precluded the…

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Comments on Coastal and Flag State Jurisdiction in the M/T “San Padre Pio” Dispute

The M/T “San Padre Pio” dispute between Switzerland and Nigeria arose following the interception and arrest by the Nigerian navy of the M/T “San Padre Pio” – a Swiss flagged tanker – while this was engaged in one of several Ship-to-Ship (STS) transfers of gasoil in the vicinity of the Odudu Oil Field within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone…

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