The Parliament of Morocco (Commission des Affaires étrangères, de la défense nationale, des affaires islamiques et des Marocains résidant à l’étranger à la Chambre des représentants) has approved (16 December 2019) two bills (projets de loi) concerning the delimitation of maritime zones. The projet de loi n° 37.17 alters the previous legislation on the territorial waters, updating existing baselines with more recently surveyed data; the projet de loi n° 38.17 alters previous legislation concerning the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. Both bills were first presented in 2017 and they apply to the waters adjacent to the Southern Provinces of Morocco, located within a Non-Self Governing Territory listed under Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations as “Western Sahara“.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco has stated that these initiatives “do not mean the unavailability of Morocco for a solution to any possible conflict with its neighbours Spain and Mauritania”. This statement is available here (in French). In response, the Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic published a statement saying that the “unilateral Moroccan act to claim Western Sahara maritime zones is null and void”. This statement is available here.
*** Update 2020/04/07: Bills 37.17 and 38.17 have been turned into laws. The laws were published in the Official Bulletin on 30 March 2020. ***
By the Special Agreement and Notification of 17 December 2019, Switzerland and Nigeria have agreed to transfer their dispute concerning the arrest and detention of the M/T “San Padre Pio”, its crew and cargo to ITLOS (previously submitted to an UNCLOS Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal). Agreement was reached following consultations held 2-3 December 2019, as reflected in the Minutes of Consultations.
For further information see Case No. 29 and the ITLOS Press Release 298. See also the related Case No. 27: The M/T “San Padre Pio” Case (Switzerland v. Nigeria), Provisional Measures.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted two resolutions on the 10 December 2019, Resolution 74/19 Oceans and the law of the sea (draft text) and Resolution 74/18 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 (draft text).
Turkey voted against adoption of the text of Resolution 74/19 on the basis it does not agree UNCLOS has a “universal and unified character” (135 votes in favour, 1 against (Turkey), and 3 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela)). Resolution 74/18 is adopted by consensus without a vote. Numerous states were critical of the failure to reach consensus on paragraphs addressing the findings of IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. The adopted Resolutions only ‘note with concern’ the findings of that report (Resolution 74/19, para. 201; Resolution 74/18, para. 11).
For further information the final texts will be available at Resolution 74/19 and Resolution 74/18.
The Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the matter of the Duzgit Integrity Arbitration has issued its final Award on Reparation in respect of the dispute between Malta and São Tomé e Príncipe (18 December 2019). These proceedings concerned the arrest by São Tomé of a Maltese flagged vessel – the Duzgit Integrity – when it attempted to undertake a ship-to-ship (“STS”) cargo transfer in São Tomé’s archipelagic waters, and the subsequent measures taken by São Tomé in relation to the vessel, its master, cargo, owner and charterer.
This Final Award follows a previous Award delivered by the PCA (see De Maribus report here). Following the issuance of the Tribunal’s 5 September 2016 Award, the proceedings were temporarily suspended while the Parties pursued settlement negotiations, which were ultimately unsuccessful. In its present Award on Reparation, the Tribunal scrutinizes Malta’s claim for reparation and orders São Tomé to pay compensation in respect of certain of Malta’s heads of claim, in particular by addressing the following:
- Whether Malta has sufficiently substantiated its claims and established causation between its loss and São Tomé’s unlawful conduct;
- Whether the settlement agreement mitigates any of the damages suffered by DS tankers;
- Whether the acts and omissions of the Duzgit integrity, its master, owner and charterer mitigate any of the damages claimed by Malta.
More information about this case can be found here.
In accordance with Article 76(8) of UNCLOS Malaysia has on 12 December 2019 made a partial submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding its continental shelf in the northern part of the South China Sea. According to Malaysia (Ex Summary, paras. 1.2-1.4), this partial submission concerns the remaining portion of the Malaysian continental shelf in the South China Sea not covered by the 2009 Joint Submission by Malaysia and Viet Nam ‘in the southern part of the South China Sea’.
Figure 1.1 The Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf in the South China Sea (Ex Summary, p. 4).
China has submitted a Communication dated 12 December 2019 which requests the CLCS to not consider the Malaysian Submission due to the existence of a land or maritime dispute (Article 5(a) of Annex I of the Rules of Procedure of the CLCS). Malaysia rejects the existence of any dispute (Ex Summary, para. 4.1).
For more information see here, Executive Summary, Note dated 12 December 2019 from the Permanent Mission of Malaysia and the Communication dated 12 December 2019 (China).
Safeseas is hosting a conference, entitled, Securing Britain’s Seas: The Bristol IdeasLab on UK Maritime Security, 28 February 2020 at the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK).
For further information and registration see here and the programme.
Advocate General Priit Pikamäe proposes the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to declare that it does not have jurisdiction to hear an action brought by Slovenia, who submits that Croatia is preventing it from fully exercising its sovereignty throughout its maritime territory. The Advocate General is of the view that the delimitation of national territory does not fall within the sphere of competence of the European Union or of the CJEU (CJEU press release of 11 December 2019).
Both parties submitted a territorial and maritime boundary dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), who issued a Final Award determining the creation of a “Junction Area” and setting the terms of the special regime to apply therein. The PCA emphasized that this special regime is intended to guarantee both the integrity of Croatia’s territorial sea and Slovenia’s freedoms of communication between its territory and the high seas (PCA press release of 29 June 2017). Croatia decided to withdraw from the 2009 Arbitration Agreement in 29 July 2015 and later stated that this award “does not in any way bind Croatia and Croatia shall not implement it” (Croatia Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs press release of 29 June 2017).
In its action brought to the CJEU (2018/C 399/27) on 13 July 2018, Slovenia argues that Croatia “unilaterally refuses to fulfil its obligations under the arbitration award”, namely in “denying Slovenian fishing vessels free access to the marine waters which the arbitration award of 2017 has defined as Slovene, and, a fortiori, free access to Croatian waters falling within the scope of the mutual access regime”.
More information on Case C-457/18 shall be made available here.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor has re-filed the Final Decision (2 December 2019) concerning the “Article 53(1) Report” (ICC-01/13-6-AnxA), as revised and refiled, on the Situation on the Registered Vessels Of The Union Of The Comoros, The Hellenic Republic, And The Kingdom Of Cambodia (ICC-01/13).
The Prosecutor maintains her view that the preliminary examination of this situation must be closed and argues that “there remains no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, since there is no reasonable basis to conclude that any potential case arising from the situation would be of sufficient gravity to be admissible before the Court”. This decision was taken without prejudice to her conclusion that, “on the information made available, there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed by members of the Israel Defence Forces (“IDF”) in the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, and its aftermath, resulting in 10 fatalities, the wounding of as many as 55 people, and outrages upon the personal dignity of potentially many others during the voyage to Ashdod”.
Although Israel is not a State Party, according to article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute, the ICC can exercise its jurisdiction in relation to the conduct of non-Party State nationals alleged to have committed Rome Statute crimes on the territory of, or on vessels and aircraft registered in, an ICC State Party. More information is available here.
The Government of Iceland (Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources) has issued a regulation tightening fuel requirements for ships, which effectively bans the use of heavy fuel oil in the territorial sea of Iceland. The change is brought about by an amendment to Iceland’s regulation on sulphur content of certain liquid fuels (reglugerð nr. 124/2015). The permissible sulphur content of marine fuels used in the territorial sea and internal waters of Iceland is lowered from 3.5% down to 0.1%. In addition, the permissible sulphur content of marine fuels is lowered down to 0.5% within the Icelandic Pollution Prevention Zone outside of the territorial sea. More information here.
The Oceans and International Environmental Law Interest Group of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law and the New Zealand Centre for Public Law are hosting a workshop entitled The Future of International Environmental Law and the Law of the Sea. Submissions of papers for this event are welcome until 20 January 2020. The event takes place on 16 – 17 April 2020, at Victoria University of Wellington (Wellington, New Zealand).
For further information see here.
The UNSW Sydney is offering a PhD scholarship for research in the Law of the Sea. This scholarship is available to participate in a project addressing the enhancement of maritime security through informal lawmaking. Preference will be given to proposals that have a multilateral or regional perspective rather than focusing on the law and policy of one particular country. Multidisciplinary perspectives on the issues being assessed are encouraged. Deadline for applications is 4 February 2020. More information is available here.
Turkey and Libya have signed (27 November 2019) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean.
The MFA of Greece considered (28 November 2019) that “the signing by Turkey and Libya of a memorandum of understanding cannot violate the sovereign rights of third countries” and that “such an action would be a flagrant violation of the International Law of the Sea and would produce no legal effect”. The Minister also noted that “between the two countries there is the large geographical mass of Crete”.
In response, the MFA of Turkey stated (1 December 2019) that “islands cannot have a cut-off effect on the coastal projection of Turkey” and that “the islands which lie on the wrong side of the median line between two mainlands cannot create maritime jurisdiction areas beyond their territorial waters and that the length and direction of the coasts should be taken into account in delineating maritime jurisdiction areas”.
Turkey had submitted earlier in the month (13 November 2019) to the UN a list of geographical coordinates, concerning the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where Turkey exercises ipso facto and ab initio exclusive sovereign rights and jurisdiction stemming from international law (A/74/550).
Turkey has not signed the UNCLOS and has opposed the new international legal regime of islands during UNCLOS III in two occasions (160th meeting and 189th meeting).
The twenty-fifth session of the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy will be held 28 June – 17 July 2020. The deadline to submit an application is 10 April 2020. For more information, fees and application documents please see here.
The Centre for International Law (CIL) at the National University of Singapore is currently advertising two research positions in its Ocean Law & Policy Programme. CIL is seeking applications from candidates with both an advanced degree in international law (PhD or LLM) and a demonstrable interest in the law of the sea, marine environmental law or the international regulation of shipping. Candidates with a particular interest in Southeast Asia and its regional institutions are strongly encouraged to apply. The closing date for applications is 20 January 2020.
For further details and to apply please see here.
The President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument 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 has released an advanced version of the revised text, entitled, Revised draft text of an 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, 27 November 2019. This was requested at the closing of the third session and aims “to enable delegations to take stock and to facilitate further progress in the negotiations at the fourth session of the Conference”. The fourth session will take place in 2020.
For the revised draft text see here. An outline of changes made to the first draft text is available here.