Law of the Sea

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The incident of the HMS Defender off the coast of Crimea

In late June, news reports put the European public on alert. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, Russian forces escorted a British warship, the HMS Defender, from “its” territorial waters off Crimea. According to Russian media, shots were fired in the direction of the HMS Defender and fighter jets “buzzed” alongside the ship when she ventured about ten nautical miles off the Crimean Peninsula. Whereas the details of the incident remain contested, the show of force by Russia raises numerous questions under International Law as Saba Pipia discusses here. According to the view of most States, Russia itself entered the territorial waters of the Ukraine when escorting the British HMS off the Crimean coast, raising the question of an innocent passage not just of the British warship but of its own vessels as well. Moreover, Russia is in breach of the general principle of non-intervention existing under customary international law. Without any justification for…

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Tensions in Crimean Waters: Can Russia’s Actions Amount to Threat of Force?

On 23 June 2021, multiple reports (here and here) suggested that the British warship HMS Defender sailing in the Black Sea en route to Georgia, found itself involved in maritime tensions offshore of the Crimean Peninsula. Reports were officially confirmed the same evening by the Ministry of Defence of Russia stating that Britain violated…

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The First Parliamentary Debate on Human Rights at Sea: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

On Tuesday, 22 June 2021, the House of Lords debated for the first time the steps the UK has taken to protect human rights at sea. The debate was initiated by an oral question raised by Lord Teverson of Tregony who has been acting as Patron of the UK-based charity Human Rights…

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Drowning Migrants in the Mediterranean and the ICCPR, Again

Last week 130 migrants perished off the coast of Libya, as their rubber boat capsized in the stormy Mediterranean. Some 750 migrants have died this year in trying to make the crossing. (See here for the IOM report, and here and here for the recent posts we had on this topic…

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Drowning in the Mediterranean: Time to think and act regionally

Europe, that is, the EU and its institutions, currently asserts the right to manage the movement of people across the Mediterranean, and with that comes responsibility, for special protection is owed to those whom it would manage. ‘Responsibility’ is multi-dimensional. Fault, in the sense of wilful or negligent conduct, may be relevant; or responsibility may follow from the…

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