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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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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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The Arctic Sunrise II – Does the ISA have ‘enforcement jurisdiction’ on the High Seas?

On 28 November 2023, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) issued ‘temporary measures’ orders, in accordance with Regulation 33 (i.e., emergency orders) of the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules (Polymetallic Nodules Regulations). The measures were issued with respect to an incident involving an ISA contractor, Nauru Ocean…

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The Recognition of a Customary Rule of International Law in NICOL II – A Redundant Exercise?

In Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (NICOL II), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) observed a general trend in which coastal States had “chosen not to assert” outer continental shelf entitlement “within 200 nautical miles of the baselines of another…

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