Law of the Sea

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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 and its enforcement of conservation measures in Nicaragua’s EEZ and (2) Colombia's authorization of fishing activities in Nicaragua’s EEZ. The Court found that Colombia violated its obligation to respect Nicaragua’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction by both (para. 101). Nicaragua claimed Colombia’s licensing of oil exploration within Nicaragua’s continental shelf was illegal, but this claim was rejected by the Court (para. 141). In addition, the Court decided on other issues, namely, the scope of its Court’s, Colombia’s ‘integral contiguous zone,’ and Nicaragua’s straight baselines, which will not be dealt with in  this post. There are two essential takes from the present judgment: (1) the characterization of the sovereign rights in a foreign EEZ and (2)…

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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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China as a Maritime Power and the Interpretation of Innocent Passage

Maritime powers have been instrumental in shaping the development of the Law of the Sea (LoS). While not uncontested, their inclusion and interpretation of key concepts into the LoS become dominant over time. As a result, expectations increase for other states to accept these or risk being cast as counter-normative actors. Nevertheless, the dominant interpretation of…

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Russia’s Blockade in the Sea of Azov: A Call for Relief Shipments for Mariupol

On 24 February 2022, the Russian Federation launched an invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have no possibility to evacuate from besieged cities of eastern Ukraine as the humanitarian corridors are not functioning (see here). According to media reports, the worst humanitarian situation right now is found in the port city of Mariupol…

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Can Turkey Close the Turkish Straits to Russian Warships?

Following the recent Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Ukraine officially requested Turkey to shut the Turkish Straits to warships pursuant to the 1936 Montreux Convention. While the initial reaction of the Turkish government implied the unwillingness of Ankara, the President of Ukraine put further pressure on Turkey to close…

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