Law of the Sea

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Deep seabed mining: A general policy at the International Seabed Authority?

Comprising 168 member States, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is responsible for all seabed mineral exploration and future exploitation activities on the international seabed (‘the Area’). Negotiations on the rules, regulations and procedures for exploitation activities are currently ongoing at the ISA. Before any exploitation activities can commence, UNCLOS requires its member States to first develop necessary rules, regulations and procedures to govern their conduct. The recent invocation of the ‘two-year rule’ provision by Nauru has imposed some pressure on the ISA, resulting in the legal possibility that exploitation activities could soon commence even in the absence of regulations. As a result, more and more States are voicing their concerns about exploitation activities in the Area commencing in the near future. Background to the proposal to discuss a general policy at the ISA In mid-2023, a group of five countries (Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu) proposed an agenda item for debate at the…

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The ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change: Selected Issues of Treaty Interpretation

Introduction This post analyses selected treaty interpretation issues in the ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change, delivered on 21 May 2024. The post does not seek to summarise nor address all issues raised by the Advisory Opinion. Instead, the aim is to analyse certain issues of treaty interpretation that arose at numerous points in the…

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The United States’ Extended Continental Shelf and its Obligations under Article 82 of UNCLOS

Introduction In December 2023, the United States (US) Department of State released an Executive Summary with information about the outer limits of its extended continental shelf (ECS). Recently, both Russia and China reacted to this development. Their reactions rejected the notion that the US could claim an ECS without acceding to…

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On Whose Authority? Freedom of Navigation and Protests in the 2023 NORI-D Area Incident

Introduction The activities of Greenpeace vessels have a habit of triggering the further illumination and development of international law. Greenpeace’s “Stop Deep Sea Mining” campaign is no exception. It effectively raises questions on the scope of Greenpeace’s individual right to protest (international human rights law) and the scope of the Netherland’s flag State right to…

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Flag State responsibility in international human rights law for individuals on board private vessels

Introduction On 10 April 2024, the EU Parliament adopted new rules strengthening responsibility-sharing among member States in respect of management of migratory flows. The new Migration and Asylum Pact is the outcome of years of political negotiations, including in the light of the complex situation in the Mediterranean Sea. However, as we explain below, the…

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