Law of the Sea

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Vessel-Source Marine Pollution and the Non-Suspension of Coastal State or Port State Proceedings: Pinpointing Flag States of Repeat Disregard in Article 228 of UNCLOS?

As we straddle the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 50th Anniversary of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), State and academic attention re-focuses on tackling marine pollution. Indeed, an ITLOS Advisory Opinion concerning Part XII will likely address MARPOL’s incorporation through the UNCLOS ‘rules of reference’. Time is thus ripe to explore the less trodden and more fluid provisions in Part XII of UNCLOS. This post reflects on Article 228(1) of UNCLOS, which preserves the primacy of flag State enforcement concerning extraterritorial vessel-source pollution. Flag States are granted a right to pre-empt certain infringement proceedings brought by port States or coastal States against their vessels if conditions are met and neither of two limitations applies. Let us focus on the second limitation, namely the loss of flag State pre-emption when the flag State “has repeatedly disregarded its obligation to enforce effectively the applicable international rules and standards in respect of violations committed by its vessels”. How do we assess and…

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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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Some Observations on the Agreement between Lebanon and Israel on the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone

Introduction On 11 October 2022, Lebanon and Israel reached a historic agreement to delimit the two countries’ territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (‘the Agreement’). The Agreement is ground-breaking for several reasons. First, it is the first maritime boundary agreement reached between countries that have no diplomatic relations.

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Violations of Sovereign Rights at a Foreign EEZ: Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia)

On 21 April 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered judgment in the Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia) case. Nicaragua instituted proceedings against Colombia regarding, among others, (1) Colombia’s interference with fishing and marine scientific research (MSR) activities of Nicaraguan-flagged or Nicaraguan-licensed vessels in Nicaragua’s EEZ…

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Iran’s Seizure of the Two Greek-flagged Vessels: An International Law Perspective

The Facts On 27 May 2022 the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the seizure of two Greek-flagged oil tankers, which sailed in international waters, 22 nautical miles from the Iranian coast (see here the statement quoted by the Iranian State news agency IRNA). The IRGC helicopters landed onboard the Greek vessels “Delta…

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