E-Course: Climate Change & Law of the Sea

The Singapore Cooperation Programme, under the auspices of the Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century (JSPP21), shall host an online course, entitled, Climate Change & Law of the Sea, 6-10 March 2023. Nominations (mid- to senior-level government officials who work on issues related to the Law of the Sea) from eligible countries are welcome until 10 February 2023. For more information see here.

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2023 Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy

The 2023 session of the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy has been scheduled for 2-21 July 2023. The deadline to submit an application is 1 May 2023. For more information, fees and application documents please see here. The Academy has a small number of extremely competitive scholarships available that are offered based on high academic merit and financial need.

Furthermore, see the Rhodes Academy Submarine Cables Writing Award sponsored by The International Cable Protection Committee the winner of which is awarded a full scholarship to the Rhodes Academy. Information on the 2023 Rhodes Academy Submarine Cables Writing Award is not yet available.

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ICJ Core Group of Nations: Second Draft Resolution for ICJ AO Initiative

On 23 January 2023 the ICJ Core Group of Nations, led by the Republic of Vanuatu, released a second Draft Resolution entitled, Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change, for further and broadening consultation. It integrates feedback as of 22 January 2023. A final consultation will take place on 2 February 2023 in New York, before the final resolution will be circulated in February 2023.

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Switzerland: First Ratification of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

On 20 January 2023 Switzerland deposited its instrument of acceptance with the WTO, thereby ratifying the previously reported Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. Once two thirds of the 164 WTO Members have ratified the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, is shall enter into force and be inserted into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement. For more information see the WTO press release and overview of WTO Members who have submitted instruments of acceptance.

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Cameroon: Law No 2022/017 on Unlawful Acts at Sea

On 27 December 2022, Cameroon adopted Law No. 2022/017 of 27 December 2022 relating to the suppression of piracy, terrorism and offences against the safety of maritime navigation and platforms. In addition to the aforementioned offences listed in its title, Law No. 2022/017 also addressed other ‘unlawful acts at sea’ (Section 1(2)).

Piracy in defined in Section 2(2) of Law No. 2022/017 in a manner similar to Article 101 of UNCLOS, albeit with some notable differences. Unlike Article 101 of UNCLOS, acts of detention or depredation –as distinct from acts of violence– are not included in Section 2(2) of Law No. 2022/017, nor are acts of piracy involving aircraft. Law No. 2022/017 does however include ‘fixed or floating platforms’ within the definition of ship for the purpose of such offences (Section 2(1)). Similar to Article 102 of UNCLOS, Section 3(2) Law No. 2022/017 addresses piratical acts by mutinous warships or other government ships, again excluding the UNCLOS references to aircraft.

Section 4 of Law No. 2022/017 defines slightly modified offenses similar to most of those found in Article 3 of the SUA Convention, as well as Articles 2-3 of the Explosives Convention. Novel offences are included. Section 5 of Law No. 2022/017 defines offences similar to most of those found in Article 2 of SUA Platforms. Section 6 of Law No. 2022/017 defines offences similar to most of those found in Article 3bis of SUA Convention 2005 (Articles 3ter and 3quater do not appear to be addressed in Law No. 2022/017) and most of those found in Article 2bis of SUA Platforms 2005 (Article 2ter is not addressed). Section 6(b) of Law No. 2022/017 defines an offence similar to, but narrower, than Article 1 of the Hostages Convention. Section 7 of Law No. 2022/017 defines the offence of the illegal transport of minors, while Section 8 defines the offence of intentional pollution through the discharge of noxious substances (similar but distinct from Article 3bis(1)(ii) of SUA Convention 2005). Section 9 of Law No. 2022/017 defines an unauthorised broadcasting offence similar to Article 109(2) of UNCLOS. Section 10 of Law No. 2022/017 addresses a financing offence related to all the aforementioned offences, reflecting some of Article 2 of the Financing Convention, whilst be broader in other respects. Section 17 addresses conspiracies, attempts and accomplices to the aforementioned offences in Law No. 2022/017.

For further information see the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon.

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Short Course: Law of the Sea

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law will host the next edition of their short course, entitled, Law of the Sea18 April 2023 – 6 June 2023, online. 3 scholarships are available at BIICL. For more information see here.

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Call for Papers: Portuguese Yearbook of the Law of the Sea

The Portuguese Yearbook of the Law of the Sea has issued a call for papers for its inaugural edition (2023). Submission are welcome until 31 March 2023. For more information see here.

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Conference: Resilience of UNCLOS – 40 Years

The University of the Faroe Islands and the Law Faculty of the University of Copenhagen shall host a conference, entitled, Resilience of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: 40 Years, 10 March 2023 at the University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Denmark). For more information see here.

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UNGA: 2022 Resolutions Adopted on Law of the Sea & Sustainable Fisheries

On 9 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 77/118: Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments, without a vote. On 20 December 2022 UNGA adopted Resolution 77/242: 2025 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, without a vote, which envisages the convening of a high-level 2025 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, supported by Costa Rica and France Finally, on 30 December 2022, UNGA adopted Resolution 77/248: Oceans and the law of the sea, (draft resolution currently accessible) with a vote (159-1-3).

For further information see reporting of the debate, as well as coverage (2) of the plenary meetings of the General Assembly to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the adoption of UNCLOS (see: Resolution 77/5)

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COSIS: Six Members of the Commission

As of 1 January 2023, the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS) is comprised of six States, who are Parties to the COSIS Agreement (Article 3(2)). In order of date of effect, the Parties are Antigua and Barbuda (Definitive signature, 31 October 2021); Tuvalu (Definitive signature, 31 October 2021); Palau (Accession, 1 November 2021); Niue (Accession, 13 September 2022); Vanuatu (Accession, 2 December 2022) and St Lucia (Accession, 7 December 2022).

For more information on the Commission’s activities see previous reporting (2), (3), (4).

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Vacancies: associate professor at Aalborg University

The Centre for Blue Governance (CBG) at Aalborg University (Denmark) seeks an associate professor with a social scientific background who does innovative research in interrelated blue governance topics or emerging blue economy activities and/or marine/coastal conservation. Those applicants with experience and/or interest in the governance and socioeconomic implications of blue carbon, deep-sea/seabed mining, aquaculture/mariculture, and/or multiuse conflicts and planning at sea are especially encouraged to apply. Closing date for applications is 5 February 2023, as per this announcement.

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Canada: Addendum to Partial Submission to CLCS (Arctic Ocean)

As previously reported, on 23 May 2019 Canada had made a partial submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. On 19 December 2022 Canada submitted its Addendum to the Partial Submission of Canada to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, see executive summary (french), to the CLCS. As summarised in the executive summary:

This addendum to the 2019 partial submission delineates additional outer limits of continental shelf, including along the full length of the Central Arctic Plateau (Lomonosov Ridge, Alpha Ridge and Mendeleev Rise, with the intervening Podvodnikov Basin and Makarov Basin), beyond 200 M from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

Noting in particular article 77 [of UNCLOS], Canada reserves the right to submit information in respect of other areas or portions of its continental shelf.

This submission is made, consistent with article 76(10) and article 9 of Annex II of [UNCLOS] without prejudice to future delimitation between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

Addendum to the Partial Submission of Canada to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, pp. 5 and 10.

For more information see here and UN Doc. CLCS.84.2019.LOS (Continental Shelf Notification) (20 December 2022).

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Vacancies: Endowed Chair at Monmouth University

The Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University (NJ, USA) seeks an outstanding senior scholar for the Endowed Rechnitz Family / Urban Coast Institute Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy. The Chair will have an expertise in environment, coastal and marine policy. This position will offer courses geared towards the overall environment as well as environmental law and policy. The successful applicant will be hired at the Associate or Full Professor level in the Department of Political Science and Sociology with the possibility of a joint appointment in another appropriate department at the university, as well as associated with the Urban Coast Institute (UCI). More information is available here.

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Vacancies: legal officer at ITLOS

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, an international court with its seat in Hamburg, Germany, has opened the following vacancy: Legal Officer (P-4). Application deadline is 15 February 2023. More information is available here.

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ITLOS: Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by COSIS, Order of 16 December 2022

Following the previously reported Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by COSIS, on 16 December 2022 the President of the ITLOS issued an Order of 16 December 2022, the operative paragraphs providing:

Decides, in accordance with article 113, paragraph 2, of the Rules of the Tribunal, that the intergovernmental organization listed in the annex to the present order are considered likely to be able to furnish information on the questions submitted to the Tribunal for an advisory opinion;

Invites, in accordance with article 113, paragraph 3, of the Rules of the Tribunal, the State Parties to the Convention, the Commission and the other organizations referred to above to present written statements on the questions submitted to the Tribunal for an advisory opinion;

Fixes, in accordance with article 133, paragraph 3, of the Rules of the Tribunal, 16 May 2023 as the time limit within which written statements may be presented to the Tribunal;

Decides, in accordance with article 133, paragraph 4, of the Rules of the Tribunal, that oral proceedings shall be held;

Reserves the subsequent procedure for further direction.

Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by COSIS, Order of 16 December 2022.

For more information see the ITLOS Press Release.

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Conference: 40 years of Africa’s contribution to UNCLOS

The African Union will host a conference, entitled, 40 Years of Africa’s Contribution to UNCLOS, 16 December 2022 in a hybrid format (AU Headquarters, Ethiopia/Zoom). For more information see here and zoom here.

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ITLOS: Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by COSIS

On 12 December 2022 ITLOS received a Request for an Advisory Opinion from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS), pursuant to Article 2(2) of the COSIS Agreement and Article 21 of the ITLOS Statute and Article 138 of the Rules of the Tribunal (see previous reporting on COSIS; and on advisory opinion jurisdiction, the SRFC Advisory Opinion).

By unanimous decision of the COSIS Members at the Third Meeting of COSIS on 26 August 2022 (comprising of Antigua and Barbuda; Tuvalu; and the Republic of Palau. Note: Niue, Republic of Vanuatu and Saint Lucia all acceded to the COSIS Agreement after 26 August 2022), COSIS decided to refer the following question to ITLOS for an Advisory Opinion (registered as ITLOS Case No. 31):

What are the specific obligations of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the “UNCLOS”), including under Part XII:

(a) to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment in relation to the deleterious effects that result or are likely to result from climate change, including through ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification, which are caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere?

(b) to protect and preserve the marine environment in relation to climate change impacts, including ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification?

Request for an Advisory Opinion of 12 December 2022, p. 1

Note, the COSIS Members decision is based on an approval of Recommendation CLE. 1/2022/Rec of the Committee of Legal Experts (18 June 2022) which was assisted by the work of the Sub-Committee on Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment. Consistent with the mandates of the Commission (Art 1(3), COSIS Agreement), the Sub-Committee on Sea-Level Rise, Sub-Committee on Human Rights, and the Sub-Committee on Loss and Damages continue to operate and may “propose further activities that the Commission may undertake to contribute to the definition, implementation, and progressive development of rules and principles of international law concerning climate change” (Third Meeting of COSIS, Decision 3). Without prejudice to if it will be utilised, note in this respect Article 2(2) of the COSIS Agreement authorises the Commission to request advisory opinions (plural) from ITLOS.

As previously reported COSIS supported the Vanuatu ICJ Advisory Opinion Initiative, and Decision 2 of the Third Meeting of COSIS provides “that the Committee of Legal Experts should assist members of the Commission in making submissions to the ICJ as appropriate”.

For more information see the ITLOS Press Release.

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Calls:  OGEL Special Issue on Carbon Capture and Storage

The journal Oil, Gas & Energy Law (OGEL) invites submissions for a Special issue focusing on Carbon Capture and Storage. This special issue will look at the key issues related to carbon capture, utilization, and storage, taking a multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary perspective including both onshore and offshore projects. Topics of interest include: challenges with cross-jurisdictional projects, including CO2 pipelines, COshipments and offshore storage and international law of the sea. Papers should be submitted by the end of March 2023 to the editors. More information available in the call for papers.

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Webinar: UNCLOS@40

Gujarat Maritime University, in association with the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (University of the Philippines) will host a webinar, entitled, UNCLOS@40, 10 December 2022 (Online). For more information see here.

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ICCAT: management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna adopted

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has for the first time in its history adopted a management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna. This novel measure, which is the result of the extensive collaboration among scientists, managers and stakeholders, should ensure long-term, sustainable and profitable fisheries of both the western stock and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock. New management measures were also agreed for both North and South Atlantic swordfish stocks. More information available in ICCAT’s press release (21 November 2022).

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ICJ Core Group of Nations: Draft Resolution for ICJ AO Initiative

On 29 November 2022 the ICJ Core Group of Nations, led by the Republic of Vanuatu, submitted a Draft Resolution to all UN Member States, entitled, Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change, for further and broadening consultation. The Vanuatu ICJ Initiative seeks to have the UN General Assembly (UNGA) vote on the adoption of the resolution at the 77th Session of the UNGA, likely in early 2023. The draft question to be submitted to the ICJ would adopt a cross-cutting and systemic approach to the body of international law concerning climate change and protection and preservation of the climate system. Thus, while law of the sea elements cannot be viewed in isolation, they are an integral part of the preambular paragraphs and operative paragraphs.

The operative paragraph of the Draft Resolution would provide:

Decides, in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations, to request the International Court of Justice, pursuant to Article 65 of the Statute of the Court, to render an advisory opinion on the following question:

Having regard to the applicable treaties, including the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and rules of general international law, including the duty of due diligence, the rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principle of prevention of significant harm to the environment, and the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment,

(1) What are the obligations of States under the above-mentioned body of international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment for present and future generations;

(2) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States which, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect to:

(a)  Small island developing States and other States which, due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?

(b)  Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change?”

Draft UNGA Resolution: Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change

In related but distinct developments in possible advisory opinion proceedings, on 2 December 2022 Vanuatu acceded to the Agreement for the Establishment of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law.

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OSPAR: consultation on the proposed expansion of the NACES MPA

The OSPAR Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) is seeking views on whether to extend the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (NACES MPA) to cover the seabed and other species and habitats. This consultation, that starts on 1 December 2022 for a period of 3 months, invites views on new evidence presented in the revised nomination proforma that seeks to demonstrate clear linkages between the benthic and pelagic systems, explaining why this site is so important for seabirds and other species. More information is available here.

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Conference: 40 Years of UNCLOS

The Centro de Estudos em Direito do Mar (CEDMAR) of the University of São Paulo (Brazil) will host the 5th Brazilian Congress on the Law of the Sea, themed, 40 years of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 8-10 December 2022, in São Paulo/Santos (Brazil). For more information see here.

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Vacancies: Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Bergen

The Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen (UiB) and The Norwegian Centre for Hydrogen Research (HyValue) are recruiting a Postdoctoral Fellow in energy and business law. Applicants are encouraged to submit a project proposal on regulatory aspects related to hydrogen and ammonia transport (in pipelines or ships), storage, and contracts. Closing date for applications is 8 January 2023. More information is available here.

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Vacancy: Research Assistant/Associate at Center for Strategic & International Studies

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is currently advertising a full-time position as a Research Assistant/Associate within the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), based in Washington, D.C. (USA). For more information see here.

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ICJ: Sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes (Belize/Honduras)

On 16 November 2022 Belize submitted an Application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Honduras with regard to a dispute concerning territorial sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes. As an application concerning a purported territorial sovereignty dispute over maritime features, the case –and any resulting Judgment– is of relevance to the application of the law of the sea, but is not itself a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the law of the sea.

Nonetheless, the Application relies upon, among others, purported exercises of coastal state rights and jurisdiction to demonstrate a manifestation of sovereignty over the Sapodilla Cayes (Application, paras. 10 & 16 e.g. adjudicative jurisdiction concerning salvage claims and piracy; prescriptive jurisdiction over natural resources, fisheries and entry; military and coast guard activities around Sapodilla Cayes; and a definition of territorial sea by reference to the Sapodilla Cayes). A number of documents in the Annexes to the Application instituting proceedings also make reference to the dispute concerning “said cays and adjoining maritime areas” and maritime delimitation. The jurisdiction of the ICJ is based on Article XXXI of the Pact of Bogotá, to which Belize deposited its instrument of accession on 27 October 2022.

Indeed, considerations of maritime delimitation and the previously reported pending case before the ICJ, Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim (Guatemala/Belize), are evidently a key rationale behind the Application. Various press briefings and Senate Statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize point to the potential for overlapping ‘related’ cases concerning, in part, Sapodilla Cayes, as well as the potential consequences of Honduras intervening in Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim (Guatemala/Belize).

For more information see the ICJ Press Release No. 2022/63.

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Vacancy: Postdoc at Utrecht University

The Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL) and the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) at the Utrecht University School of Law are currently seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher addressing International Shipping Law and the International Law Relating to Antarctica. Applications are welcome until 8 January 2023. For more information see here.

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Call for Abstracts: Developing Robust Ocean Regimes for Uncertain Futures

The Yong Pung How School of Law (Singapore Management University) will host a workshop, entitled, Developing Robust Ocean Regimes for Uncertain Futures, 28 April 2023 at SMU (Singapore). Abstracts are welcome until 15 January 2023. For more information see here.

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ITLOS: The M/T “Heroic Idun” Case (Marshall Islands v. Equatorial Guinea), Discontinued

As previously reported, on 10 November 2022 the Republic of the Marshall Islands had initiated prompt release proceedings against Equatorial Guinea concerning the M/T “Heroic Idun” whilst the vessel and crew were within the jurisdiction, control and custody of Equatorial Guinea. On 11 November 2022, the President of ITLOS via Order 2022/2 fixed the 24 November 2022 as the date for the opening of the hearings.

However, as detailed by the Marshall Islands (Order 2022/3, para 6) and confirmed by a Press Briefing by the Nigerian Navy (Briefing 15 November 2022), on 11 November 2022 “Equatorial Guinea caused the Vessel and her crew to be transferred into the jurisdiction, control and custody of Nigeria”, with the Nigerian Navy escort and M/T Heroic Idun subsequently arriving off Bonny Offshore Terminal II on 12 November 2022. As the Marshall Islands highlighted, “[t]hese developments have regrettably rendered moot the Marshall Islands’ Prompt Release Application […] [a]s a result, the Marshall Islands is compelled to discontinue the proceedings” (Order 2022/3, paras 7-8). On 15 November 2022, the President of ITLOS via Order 2022/3 placed on record the discontinuance of the prompt release proceedings and ordered that the case be removed from the ITLOS list of cases. It should be noted, as of 14 November 2022, “the Government of Equatorial Guinea had not taken any steps in the proceedings” (Order 2022/3, para 10).

According to the Nigerian Navy, the request to Equatorial Guinea to arrest the vessel, the Nigeria/Equatorial Guinea information exchange, the Nigeria/Equatorial Guinea coordination and the transfer of the suspected vessel and persons from Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria was based on the 2013 Code of Conduct Concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery Against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa.

The Nigerian Navy noted a number of domestic legal provisions it believes the M/T Heroic Idun and/or crew “could” have violated. Press reporting on the first arraignment hearing at the Federal High Court Port Harcourt concerning some of the crew members (14 November 2022) list three charges that correlate with some of the Nigerian Navy points, namely two offences under the 2019 Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act and one offence under 2004 Miscellaneous Offences Act. A Statement by OSM, the Ship Manager, offers a different version of the underlying incidents.

For more information see the ITLOS Press Release 324.

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Russia: Resumed Participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative

As previously reported, on 29 October 2022 Russia decided to indefinitely suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. In response, the Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations delegations agreed to proceed, with “movements and inspections carried out after the Russian Federation suspended its participation in implementation activities at the Joint Coordination Centre [a]s a temporary and extraordinary measure“. Furthermore, on 1 November 2022 Russia reported that Ukraine had provided written guarantees, including that “the maritime humanitarian corridor will be used only in accordance with the provisions of the Black Sea Initiative and the related JCC regulation” and Russia would therefore resume implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative from 2 November 2022. On the 3 November 2022 “the Russian Federation delegation resumed its work at the JCC and joined vessel inspections”. It appears the Republic of Türkiye and the UN played a significant role (2) (3) in returning Russia to the Black Sea Gran Initiative.

As provided in Primary Aspect H. of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the Initiative initially applies until 18 November 2022 (120 days from the date of signature (22 July 2022)). The Initiative will be automatically extended by another 120 days, unless a Party notifies its intent to terminate or modify the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Türkiye has signalled its intent to extend the Initiative, but Russia has signalled its position is subject to further consultations.

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Vacancy: Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island

The Department of Marine Affairs (MAF) in the College of Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) at the University of Rhode Island (URI) is seeking an Assistant Professor of Marine Affairs with expertise in Fisheries Management and Policy. Applications remain open until the position has been filled, with full consideration given to applications received by 15 December 2022. For more information see here.

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ITLOS: The M/T “Heroic Idun” Case (Marshall Islands v. Equatorial Guinea), Prompt Release

On 10 November 2022 the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) confirmed receipt of an Application submitted by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, filed against Equatorial Guinea, and thereby entered by ITLOS as Case No. 30: The M/T “Heroic Idun” Case (Marshall Islands v. Equatorial Guinea), Prompt Release. The case concerns a dispute between the Marshall Islands and Equatorial Guinea but as evident in the Application and several press releases by the Nigerian Navy (Press Release 17 August 2022; Press Briefing 19 August 2022; Press Release 9 November 2022), also arrises out of events occurring in the maritime zones of Nigeria.

Of particular interest to Provisional Measures proceedings, the Application submitted by the Republic of the Marshall Islands contends:

Given the paucity of information available to the Applicant at this point, in the absence of any meaningful engagement by Equatorial Guinea in response to the diplomatic and other initiatives by the Applicant, this [Prompt Release] Application does not rest on an asserted breach by the Respondent of Articles 73, 220 or 226 of the Convention. The Applicant reserves the right, however, to amend and supplement this Application, including in the course of a hearing on the matter, to include reference to Article 73, 220 and/or 226 in the event that this is warranted by information that comes to light in the course of these proceedings, whether in the form of claims and submissions by the Respondent or from elsewhere.

[…]

Having regard to the context and the urgency of the present case, and the Tribunal’s settled jurisprudence on a plausibility threshold for purposes of prompt release applications, the Marshall Islands contends that the Tribunal should proceed on the basis of a non-restrictive interpretation of Article 292 in respect of this Application.

[…]

In addition or in the alternative to the preceding, and having regard to the submissions above about the “non-restrictive interpretation” of Article 292 on which the Marshall Islands primarily relies, the Applicant contends that Article 292(4) provides an independent basis – constituting a “provision of the Convention” for purposes of Article 292(1) – on which the Tribunal’s competence to order prompt release can be engaged.

Application submitted by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, paras. 59, 63 and 81.

Of further note, as evident in Paragraph 2 of the Application, the Marshall Islands intends to submit a dispute on the merits to an UNCLOS Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal (Application, Para. 49(e), while not exhaustive, raises Articles 58(1)-(2), 87, 97 & 110 of UNCLOS), as well as a Request for Provisional Measures (Para. 2 of the Application, refers to ITLOS hearing the provisional measures under Article 290(5) of UNCLOS, but this cannot be presumed until the parties to the dispute have failed to reach agreement on a suitable court or tribunal within 2 weeks, and the Arbitral Tribunal has not been formed).

The Submissions of the Marshall Islands are found in Paragraphs 87-88 of the Application, including the usual Prompt Release requests as well as several “requests the President of the Tribunal, relying on the Tribunal’s inherent competence and proprio motu powers, exemplified but not confined by Article 90(4) of the Tribunal’s Rules” concerning safety, security, and cooperation/information exchange between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.

For more information see ITLOS Press Release 323.

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Events: International Law and the Nord Stream Leaks

The Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute of the World Maritime University (Sweden) will host a webinar on International Law and the Nord Stream Leaks, to take place on Friday November 18 at 14.00-15.30 CET. The webinar will take the form of a roundtable discussion. More information and a link to register can be found here.

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Webinar: Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

The Kofi Anan International Peacekeeping Training Center​ (KAIPTC), the Royal Danish Defence College and SIGLA​ (Stellenbosch University) will co-host a webinar, entitled, Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea: Rethinking the Past and Contemplating the Future, 16-17 November 2022, in a hybrid format (KAIPTC, Accra, Ghana/Online). For more information see here.

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Vacancy: Research Associate at University of Strathclyde

The One Ocean Hub at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, UK) is currently seeking a Research Associate (Law), with applications welcome until 29 November 2022. For more information see here.

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Vacancies: tenure-track appointment at Dalhousie University

The Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University (Canada), invites applications for a probationary tenure-track, tenure-track or tenured appointment at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Professor in the areas of Environmental Law, Climate Change and Energy Law, Environmental Impact Assessment, and Oceans LawThe selected candidate is expected to advance the research, teaching and graduate and post-doctoral supervision activities of our Marine and Environmental Law Institute and the associated Marine and Environmental Law Program. Closing date for applications is 17 November 2022. More information is available here.

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Vacancies: PhD Fellow & (2) Postdoc Fellows at University of Tromsø

Three law of the sea focused positions, affiliated to the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea (NCLOS), Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø, Norway), are currently seeking applicants. The PhD Fellow will propose a project within the theme of sovereignty as both the organizing logic and the central legal principle underpinning the law of the sea and ocean governance, applicants being welcome until 18 December 2022. One Postdoctoral Fellow will joint the research project Developing good ocean governance of the Arctic in times of unpredictable and rapid changes (DOGA), applicants being welcome until 4 December 2022. The other Postdoctoral Fellow will undertake research on the themes Ocean Space, Sovereignty, and/or Ocean Commons, applicants being welcome until 4 December 2022.

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Conference: Dynamics of the Constitution for the Oceans

The Institute for the International Law of the Sea and Maritime Law (University of Hamburg), the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder, and the Law of the Sea Institute of Iceland will organise a conference, entitled, Dynamics of the Constitution for the Oceans: UNCLOS at 40, 9-10 December 2022 in Hamburg, Germany. For more information and registration see here.

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UK/Mauritius: Chagos Archipelago/BIOT Negotiations Begin

On 3 November 2022 the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs made a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons (HCWS354), repeated in the House of Lords (HLWS347), whereby the minister confirmed:

“[T]he UK and Mauritius have decided to begin negotiations on the exercise of sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)/Chagos Archipelago.

Through negotiations, taking into account relevant legal proceedings, it is our intention to secure an agreement on the basis of international law to resolve all outstanding issues, including those relating to the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago.

[…]

The UK and Mauritius have agreed to engage in constructive negotiations, with a view to arriving at an agreement by early next year.”

HCWS354

Relevant legal proceedings would include domestic proceedings, and at the international level: Chagos Marine Protected Area Arbitration; Delimitation of the maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean (and related Preliminary Objections proceedings) and the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 (Advisory Opinion).

Of further note, the negotiations are framed around statements that the UK will seek to “strengthen significantly” its cooperation in the Indian Ocean on a range of issues, and “The UK and Mauritius have reiterated that any agreement between our two countries will ensure the continued effective operation of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia”. The USA and India will be kept informed of progress in negotiations and the operation of the military base on Diego Garcia.

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Conference: Effectiveness of UNCLOS Revisited

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Korean Society of International Law and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), will host its Seventh International Conference on the Law of the Sea, entitled, Law of the Sea for the Next Generation: Effectiveness of UNCLOS Revisited, 15-17 November 2022, in a hybrid format (Seoul/Online).

For more information and registration see here.

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Workshop: The Nexus Implied from the Maritime Order in East Asia in 1945-1952

The Asiatic Research Institute, Korea University (ARI) and The Development of International Law In Asia-Korea (DILA-KOREA) will co-host an international workshop entitled, The Nexus Implied from the Maritime Order in East Asia in 1945-1952: Between Indeterminacy and Strategical Ambiguity, 7 November 2022, online (Zoom). For more information see here.

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Events: Preparing for Sea Level Rise

The School of Law of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) is hosting a conference entitled Preparing for Sea Level Rise. This event is set to happen in Lisbon on 18 November 2022. The program of the event is available here.

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Vacancies: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at University of Wollongong

The Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at the University of Wollongong (Australia) is advertising a position for a lecturer or senior lecturer. The successful applicants are expected to support a range of research and capacity-building activities through the Indo-Pacific region. Closing date is 29 November 2022; more information is available here.

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Russia: Indefinite Suspension of Participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative

In response to a 29 October 2022 attack on Russian Naval assets located in a naval base on the occupied Ukrainian territory of Sevastopol (UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262), Russia declared it will suspend its implementation of the (previously reported) Black Sea Grain Initiative with immediate effect for an indefinite period on the basis “the Russian side can no longer guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative”. According to the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), “The Russian Federation delegation also expressed its readiness to cooperate remotely on issues that require immediate decision by the JCC”. No agreement on vessel movements in the corridor was reached for 30 October 2022, but, in order to continue fulfilling the Initiative, “it was proposed that the Turkish and United Nations delegations provide [31 October 2022] 10 inspection teams aiming to inspect 40 outbound vessels”, an inspection plan accepted by the Ukraine delegation and informed to the Russian Federation. The “Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations delegations agreed on a movement plan for [31 October 2022] for the maritime humanitarian corridor of 16 vessels, 12 outbound and 4 inbound”. The Russian delegation was informed of said movement plans. Among others, the UN Secretary General and Türkiye issued statements in response to the Russian suspension of its participation, the latter suggesting one consequence will be “during this period, there will be no ship exits from Ukraine”.

Earlier, on 20 October 2022, UNCTAD had reported on the contributions of the Black Sea Initiative to global food security. In the week before Russia’s suspension of participation, the JCC had reported on 24 October 2022 on delays and disruptions that had resulted in a backlog of vessels waiting in the territorial waters of Türkiye. A statement by Ukraine attributed these delays to the actions of Russia concerning inspections, while a Russian statement attributed delays to “an artificial traffic jam has been created in the port of Istanbul”.

For further information see the below map of the Black Sea Grain Initiative Shipping Route (25 August 2022) produced by the JCC (Sevastopol is not visible on the map as it lies eastward of the eastern boundary of the map).

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New Zealand: moratorium on deep seabed mining backed

The Government of New Zealand announced its support to a conditional moratorium on deep sea mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction until environmental rules are agreed and backed up by science. The decision follows a review of progress on regulations for deep sea mining in the area managed by the International Seabed Authority, who has a July 2023 deadline to complete the regulations, or Mining Code, before mining applications can be submitted. More information on this announcement can be found in the press release from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This announcement goes in the same direction of a motion by IUCN (see De Maribus report here) and of a decision from the Parliament of Belgium (see De Maribus report here)

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Vanuatu: Announcement of ICJ Core Group of Nations (ICJ AO Initiative)

On 27 October 2022 the Republic of Vanuatu formally announced at the UN General Assembly the composition of the ICJ Core Group of Nations, which currently includes: Antigua & Barbuda, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Germany, Liechtenstein, Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Singapore, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Viet Nam, and Vanuatu. The Core Group of Nations are producing a zero draft of a resolution to be put before the UN General Assembly requesting an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and builds on previously reported formal endorsements by the respective leaders of CARICOM, PIF & OACPS. Note, Antigua & Barbuda is a member of the ICJ Core Group of Nations, aligning with the previously reported support of COSIS for the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative.

The currently reported schedule by the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative notes a zero draft of the proposed UNGA Resolution will be made public by 14 November 2022, opened for informal negotiations by 21 November 2022 and tabled for a vote by the UNGA between December 2022-February 2023 (i.e. during 77th Session of UNGA). The current draft question is not detailed in the Joint Statement, the Vanuatu Press Release, or the Resolution Elements Summary (October 2022), but possibilities are noted:

An opinion of the International Court of Justice could, among other things:

  • Clarify the rights and obligations of States in respect of the adverse impacts of climate change on small island developing states and other climate vulnerable states, in particular, thereby facilitating international cooperation in this area;
  • Encourage States to reflect their highest possible level of ambition, in keeping with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of their different national circumstances, in preparing their NDCs under the Paris Agreement and supporting climate action;
  • Clarify the due diligence requirements relating to climate action for emitters of greenhouse gases– past, present and future, and
  • Clarify the implications for the human rights of present and future generations.
Vanuatu, Joint Statement on behalf of Core Group of Nations, UNGA, 27 October 2022.

For further information, note that UNEP also released its Emissions Gap Report 2022 on 27 October 2022. The executive summary (p. XVI) notes “Policies currently in place with no additional action are projected to result in global warming of 2.8°C over the twenty-first century. Implementation of unconditional and conditional NDC scenarios reduce this to 2.6°C and 2.4°C respectively”. The UNEP Press Release summarises “the international community is still falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place”.

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Vacancy: Programme Officer at High Seas Alliance

The High Seas Alliance (HSA) is currently seeking a Programme Officer (six months, possible renewal), who will “provide support to the High Seas Alliance (HSA) to implement its strategies to finalise and implement a [BBNJ] Treaty to protect and manage the high seas”. Applications are welcome until 30 October 2022. For more information see here.

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Events: Filling the legal toolbox for working towards ocean sustainability

The Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) and the Utrecht University Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL), in collaboration with the Centre for International Law (CIR) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, are organizing a workshop entitled Filling the legal toolbox for working towards ocean sustainability: UNCLOS, UNCLOS 2.0 and/or what else? This event is set to take place on 17 and 18 November 2022, in The Hague (Netherlands). Further information about registration, as well as the program of the event, is available here.

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CCAMLR: Ecuador Becomes a Member of the Commission

On 24 June 2022, Ecuador acceded to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, thereby becoming an Acceding Party (Article XXIX). Acceding Parties are bound by the provisions of the CAMLR Convention, but are not permitted to fish in the CAMLR Convention Area, do not participate in decision-making, and do not contribute financially. On 19 October 2022 Ecuador then became a Member of the Commission. Consistent with Article VII(2)(b) of the CAMLR Convention, the press release by CCAMLR Secretariat notes Ecuador is currently engaged in research activities in relation to the marine living resources to which the CAMLR Convention applies. Members are involved in scientific research and/or fishing subject to CCAMLR Conservation Measures (Articles IX & XXI), contribute to the CCAMLR budget (Article XIX) and participate in decision-making (Article XII).

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Conference: The Asian Legal Order

The Faculty of Law at the University of Malaya in collaboration with the Malaysian Chapter of the Asian Society of International Law will host a conference, entitled, The Asian Legal Order: Adoption of Universal Norms or Adaptation of Local Values?, 25 October 2022 in a hybrid format (University of Malaya/Zoom). Session III addresses peace and security in the South China Sea. For more information see here.

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