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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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Preservation of Territorial Integrity – A Substantive Rule under UNCLOS?

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes a comprehensive dispute settlement mechanism applicable to any dispute, subject to the exhaustive list of limitations and optional exceptions in Section 3, concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS. A complex topic that has arisen in several disputes regarding the application of UNCLOS is how to…

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Measuring Compliance and the Decisions of UNCLOS Dispute Settlement Bodies

What happens after an international court or tribunal hands down its judgment? Sir Robert Jennings once noted the irony in how detailed the business of international courts and tribunals is up to and including the rendering of a judgment, and how little we know about what follows. It is indeed a curiosity given that compliance has always…

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