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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Protecting commercial shipping with strikes into Yemen: Do attacks against merchant shipping trigger the right of self-defence?

On January 11, 2024, the US and UK, supported by a group of other States, commenced attacks against targets in Yemen. These attacks were preceded by a range of efforts to secure the sea lines of communication through the Red Sea against continued attacks by the Houthis from Yemen territory. A maritime coalition taskforce was set up…

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Extended Continental Shelf of the United States: A Landmark Announcement and Its Implications

In December 2023, The U.S. Department of State has released information about the outer limits of its extended continental shelf (ECS). The delineation of the ECS outer limits represents the largest offshore mapping effort ever undertaken by the United States, requiring two decades of extensive collection of marine geophysical data. The outcome of this project is the delineation…

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Seafloor High Shopping: (Mis)applying Article 76 of UNCLOS?

Introduction In a 2023 post on EJIL: Talk!, one of the authors to this post addressed some of the conclusions that follow from the recommendations of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) of 6 February 2023 in regard to the consideration of the revised…

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American Pick and Choose or Customary International Law?

Since 2003, the United States (US) has been collecting, processing, and analyzing marine geophysical data to determine the outer limits of its continental shelf. Some 20 years later, on 19 December 2023, the US Department of State published the geographical coordinates that define its extended continental shelf (ECS), stating that: ‘The United States…

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