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.
Author Archives: A. N. Honniball
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.
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.
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.
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.
The British Institute of International and Comparative Law will host the next edition of their short course, entitled, Law of the Sea, 18 April 2023 – 6 June 2023, online. 3 scholarships are available at BIICL. For more information see here.
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.
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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
Vanuatu, Joint Statement on behalf of Core Group of Nations, UNGA, 27 October 2022.
- 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.
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”.
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.
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).
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.
The London International Boundary Conference 2022 will be held from the 12-13 December 2022, at King’s College London (London, UK), in a hybrid format. The call for papers includes 5 themes, whereby a number of topics may be of interest to those working around the law of the sea. Abstracts are welcome until 4 November 2022.
For more information, see here.
On 11 October 2022, the Republic of Lebanon and the State of Israel reached a draft Exchange of Letters Establishing a Permanent Maritime Boundary to delineate their territorial sea and EEZ maritime boundary, with the USA formally acting as a mediator and facilitator between the Parties since 29 September 2020. Pending finalisation, Section 1 would define the maritime boundary as agreed between the Parties for all points seaward of the easternmost point of the maritime boundary line. Section 2 addresses exploration and exploitation of an area refereed to as “the Prospect”.
In order not to prejudice the status of the land boundary, the maritime boundary landward of the easternmost point of the MBL is expected to be delimited in the context of, or in a timely manner after, the Parties’ demarcation of the land boundary. Until such time this area is delimited, the Parties agree that the status quo near the shore, including along and as defined by the current buoy line, remains the same, notwithstanding the differing legal positions of the Parties in this area, which remains undelimited.Section 1B
By Order of 4 October 2022 in the Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia) the International Court of Justice issued a decision on the organisation of the public hearings. Having regard to Article 48 of the ICJ Statute and to Articles 54(1) and 61(1) of the Rules of Court the ICJ stated and decided that:
Whereas, in the circumstances of the case, before proceeding to any consideration of technical and scientific questions in relation to the delimitation of the continental shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Nicaragua is measured, the Court considers it necessary to decide on certain questions of law, after hearing the Parties thereon,
Decides that, at the forthcoming oral proceedings in the case, the Republic of Nicaragua and the Republic of Colombia shall present their arguments exclusively with regard to the following two questions:
(1) Under customary international law, may a State’s entitlement to a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of its territorial sea is measured extend within 200 nautical miles from the baselines of another State?
(2) What are the criteria under customary international law for the determination of the limit of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured and, in this regard, do paragraphs 2 to 6 of Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea reflect customary international law? and
Reserves the subsequent procedure for further decision.Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 Nautical Miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia), Order of 4 October 2022, pp. 2-3
As noted in both of the two declarations appended to the Order, the division of the oral proceedings on the merits into two separate parts was previously unprecedented. The Joint Declaration of Judges Tomka, Xue, Robinson, Nolte and Judge ad hoc Skotnikov offers critical reflection on the Order of 4 October 2022, while the Declaration of Judge Abraham is supportive of the Order of 4 October 2022. For further information see the ICJ Press Release No. 2022/49.
The Consortium for the Study of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy (CONSMAR) and the Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Centre of the University of Haifa will host the first webinar in their Eastern Mediterranean Talks series, entitled, Maritime Boundaries Delimitation in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, 20 October 2022, online (Zoom). For more information see here.
The Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam is seeking applicants for the Young Leaders Program 2022 under the framework of the 14th South China Sea International Conference, themed, Undisrupted Sea, Undisrupted Peace, Undisrupted Recovery, 16-18 November 2022. Applications are welcome until 30 October 2022. For more information see here.
The European Society of International Law (ESIL) is hosting the 2023 ESIL Annual Conference, themed, Is international law fair?, 30 August-2 September 2023 in Aix-en-Provence, France. All 11 Agora appear suitable for law of the sea related submissions, with explicit examples being Agora 5: Fairness, Natural Resources, Shared Resources, and Common Spaces and Agora 7: Fairness in the Allocation of Maritime Spaces. Abstracts are welcome until 31 January 2023.
On 28-29 September 2022 the inaugural United States-Pacific Island Country Summit was held, including the governments of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and the United States of America. On 29 September 2022 the United States-Pacific Island Country Summit issued the Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership which, among 11 agreed points, includes:
Sixth, we resolve to protect the Blue Pacific and enhance the laws that govern it.
Seventh, we resolve to maintain peace and security across the Blue Pacific Continent.2022 Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership
Further detail on initiatives to implement the USA’s commitments is found in the U.S. Roadmap for a 21st-Century U.S.-Pacific Island Partnership, published 29 September 2022. On 29 September 2022, the USA also published a national strategy dedicated to the Pacific Islands, entitled, Pacific Partnership Strategy, which is supportive of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and “aligned with the goals” of the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
Significant commitments and policies of interest across a range of thematic areas of ocean governance are found within the documents cited above. To highlight here, following previous reporting (2), is the practice addressing the preservation of maritime zones:
We acknowledge the threats posed by climate change-related sea-level rise to regional security, peace, prosperity, and development. It is essential that maritime zones and the rights and entitlements that flow from them must be maintained without reduction, notwithstanding any physical changes connected to climate change-related sea-level rise, recognizing that SIDS and other coastal States have planned their development in reliance on their rights to such maritime zones […]2022 Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership
Sea-Level Rise: The United States is adopting a new policy on sea-level rise and maritime zones. This policy recognizes that new trends are developing in the practices and views of States on the need for stable maritime zones in the face of sea-level rise, is mindful of the Pacific Island Forum’s Declaration Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise, commits to working with Pacific Island States and other countries toward the goal of lawfully establishing and maintaining baselines and maritime zone limits, and encourages other countries to do the same.Roadmap for a 21st-Century U.S.-Pacific Island Partnership
Recognition of Cook Islands and Niue: The United States will recognize the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign states, following appropriate consultations.Roadmap for a 21st-Century U.S.-Pacific Island Partnership
The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (UC Berkeley School of Law) shall host the Fall 2022 Harry & Jane Scheiber Lecture in Ocean Law & Policy, entitled, Climate Change and the Oceans: An Existential Challenge for International Law, 17 October 2022, in a hybrid format (UC Berkeley Law School/Zoom). For more information and registration see here and here.
An ongoing UN-Coordinated Plan aims to prevent and prepare for a possible oil spill from the deteriorating floating storage and offloading unit, FSO Safer, moored off the coast of Yemen, with an estimated 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil on board (IMO Circular Letter No. 4561). The UN-Coordinated Operation Plan is undertaken in close consultation with Yemeni parties, including the support of the Government of Yemen in Aden and a Memorandum of Understanding (5 March 2022) with the Sana’a-based authorities, which control the area where the vessel is located. Following additional funding pledges by the Netherlands on 17 September 2022, the $75 million required to start the first phase of the emergency operation was reached (via public participation, UN crowdfunding campaign and donor states). On 21 September 2022 the Netherlands, the United States and Germany, as the largest donors, co-hosted a high-level side event (2) at the United Nations General Assembly Week addressing necessary follow-up steps and how the operation will actually be carried out. The emergency salvage operation will involve transferring the oil into a safe vessel. The second phase, which will require an additional $38 million, envisages installing a permanent storage solution and scrapping the FSO Safer.
On 22 July 2011 Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Metals Company, was granted a polymetallic nodule exploration contract concerning 4 areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ), sponsored by the government of the Republic of Nauru.
An environmental impact statement from NORI regarding its plans to carry out testing of a polymetallic nodule collector system components, in the NORI-D Contract Area of the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone was submitted on 30 July 2021, with updates and resubmission on 1 March 2022. A Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) was submitted on 2 May 2022. The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) made requests concerning the detail of the EIA in March 2022 and both the EIA and EMMP in July 2022 (ISBA/27/C/16/Add.1, paras. 42-47):
The Commission therefore decided that it was unable to recommend to the Secretary-General of the Authority that the environmental impact statement be included in the programme of activities of NORI.ISBA/27/C/16/Add.1, para. 46.
In August 2022 the LTC concluded its review of the additional information provided by NORI on 1 August 2022 and recommended to the Secretary-General of ISA that the completed EIS be incorporated into the programme of NORI’s activities under its exploration contract with ISA. On 5 September 2022, the Secretary-General notified the contractor of the recommendation of the LTC (ISA Press Release) and the pilot collection system trials in the NORI-D Exploration Area (see below) are scheduled to begin in September 2022.
The International Seabed Authority, in partnership with the Permanent Representation of Singapore to the United Nations, will host a conference (CfP previously reported), entitled, Women in the Law of the Sea: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of UNCLOS, 26-28 September 2022, in a hybrid format (New York/Virtual). For more information see here and here.
Two consecutive conferences, namely the NKR/JTMS Joint Conference & KISA 14th Annual Convention, themed, A New World Disorder: Security Risks, Challenges, and Opportunities, will be hosted at the Yonsei Institute of North Korean Studies, South Korea, 24-26 November 2022. Abstract, including on a number of non-exhaustive law of the sea topics are welcome until 1 October 2022. for more information see here.