The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) has issued an Advisory Opinion (OC-23/17) in the case “The Environment and Human Rights” on state obligations in relation to the environment, in the context of the protection and guarantee of the rights to life and to personal integrity. This Avisory Opinion was requested by Colombia with respect to the environmental risks caused by the construction, maintenance and expansion of canals for maritime navigation in the Caribbean region. The I/A Court H.R. declared that “the degradation of the environment may cause irreparable damages to human beings, a reason why a sound environment is a fundamental right for the existence of humankind”. The award (in Spanish) may be found here and a summary (also in Spanish) is available here.
Category Archives: Jurisprudence
The International Court of Justice delivered its Judgment in the joined cases concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Land Boundary in the Northern Part of Isla Portillos (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). The first case was presented on 25 February 2014 and concerned the “establishment of single maritime boundaries between the two States in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, respectively, delimiting all the maritime areas appertaining to each of them, in accordance with the applicable rules and principles of international law”. In the Judgment, the Court determined the course of the single maritime boundaries between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (see image below). The text of the Judgment may be found here. Costa Rica’s official statement (in Spanish) summing up the consequences of this decision may be found here.
A master of a coastal trading vessel was convicted and fined in Australia’s Cairns Magistrates Court for being in charge of a ship that entered a shipping exclusion area in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The master pleaded guilty to entering an exclusion zone near the Turtle Group of Islands, 28km northwest of Cape Flattery, in November 2015. Under the Marine Park legislation, ships must only travel in designated shipping areas or general use zones to protect the marine environment, and commercial ships are monitored for their compliance. More information about this case may be found here.
Dated the 27 November 2017, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court acquitted the 35 person aboard the M/V Seaman Guard Ohio, arrested four years ago for offences under the 1959 Arms Act. Of interest to law of the sea scholars, the case touched upon the drawing of baselines, innocent passage, and the stopping and anchoring rendered necessary by force majeure or distress (UNCLOS, art. 18(2)).
A copy of the judgement is available here.
The provincial court (Audiencia Provincial) of A Coruña, in Spain, has awarded the Spanish state EUR 1.6 billion in damages over the 2002 Prestige oil spill. The court also said the regional government of Galicia must be compensated EUR 1.8 million; France, which was also affected, will be compensated EUR 61 million. Various private parties were awarded compensation as well. The sum will have to be paid by the captain of the ship and the insurance (The London Steamship Owners Mutual Insurance Association) or by the owners of the ship (Mare Shipping Inc.); the award also mentions the obligation of the IOPC Funds to compensate for damages up to the limits established in the applicable treaty. The text of the award, dated 15 November 2017, may be found here (in Spanish).
Update (21 Nov. 2017): The London P&I Club has reacted to the Prestige judgment, assessing the claims and presenting the next steps ahead. The note may be found here.
Through a series of confidential meetings with a Conciliation Commission in The Hague, Timor-Leste and Australia have reached agreement on the complete text of a draft treaty which delimits the maritime boundary between them in the Timor Sea. This draft treaty also addresses the legal status of the Greater Sunrise gas field, the establishment of a Special Regime for Greater Sunrise, a pathway to the development of the resource, and the sharing of the resulting revenue. The Parties will now pursue their domestic approval processes in order to proceed with the signing of the Treaty. More information on this treaty is available here.
The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, constituted to deal with the Dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire), delivered its Judgment. Among other points, it unanimously rejected Ghana’s claim that Côte d’Ivoire is estopped from objecting to the “customary equidistance boundary” and it found that Ghana did not violate the sovereign rights of Côte d’Ivoire. The Award may found here. A reaction by Tullow Oil plc, who explores the Tweneboa Enyenra Ntomme (TEN) oil fields on Ghana’s side of the delimitation line, may be found here.