Territorial Disputes

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Conditional Decisions: A Solution for Ukraine v. Russia and Other Similar Cases?

On 21 February 2020, the tribunal in the Coastal State Rights arbitration between Ukraine and Russia rendered an award on preliminary objections. Although the tribunal decided that the case would proceed to the merits, it held that it did not have jurisdiction over any of Ukraine’s claims that would “necessarily require[] it to decide, directly or implicitly, on the sovereignty of either Party over Crimea” (para. 492(a)). This holding is understandable. As previously discussed on this blog here and here, the tribunal faced a rather complex jurisdictional problem. As a tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it generally had jurisdiction over claims alleging violations of the Convention. And all of Ukraine’s claims were indeed allegations that Russia had violated the Convention. Nevertheless, many of Ukraine’s claims were premised on Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea, such that a ruling by the tribunal on those claims would have required the tribunal to determine…

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The Award concerning Preliminary Objections in Ukraine v. Russia : Observations regarding the Implicated Status of Crimea and the Sea of Azov

On 21 February 2020 the arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the Dispute Concerning Coastal State Rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation) rendered its…

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Does the European Court of Human Rights Have to Decide on Sovereignty over Crimea? Part II: Issues Lurking on the Merits

In my previous post I explained how the European Court’s Article 1 jurisprudence allows it to avoid the question of sovereignty over Crimea, since it can ground Russia’s jurisdiction over the territory, and thus the applicability of the ECHR, simply on the fact of its control and need not say anything else. But there are at least two…

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Does the European Court of Human Rights Have to Decide on Sovereignty over Crimea? Part I: Jurisdiction in Article 1 ECHR

On 11 September the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held oral hearings on the admissibility of the interstate claim Ukraine brought against Russia regarding Crimea (no. 20958/14). The webcast of the hearing is available here. There are many different admissibility issues that the case raises, some of them heavily factual (e.g. the existence…

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Living in the Shadow of Flawed Peace: How General International Law Is Implicated in the Trade War between Japan and South Korea

As the anniversary of V-J Day approaches, the legacy of World War II still casts a long shadow on its previous Pacific theatre.  Last month, an unprecedented quadripartite incident involving warplanes from, inter alia, Japan and South Korea played out in the territorial airspace of the contested Dokdo/Takeshima islands, disputed territory that was left unresolved in the…

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