Category Archives: State Practice

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Israel/Lebanon: Maritime Boundary Line Agreement

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

For further information see here and here.

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USA–Pacific Islands Summit: Declaration on U.S.–Pacific Partnership

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

Secondly:

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

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UN: FSO Safer Emergency Operation Funded

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.

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ISA: LTC Recommendations allow polymetallic nodule collector testing in Clarion-Clipperton Zone

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.

ISA, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc

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.

ISA Contract for Exploration Public Information Template: NORI, p. 4.

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Republic of Congo: Establishment of Three Marine Protected Areas

Between 29-31 August 2022, the Government of the Republic of Congo, with the support of organisations including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), officially “announced the creation of the country’s first three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) protecting marine resources and coastal habitats across more than 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles) and representing 12.01 percent of Congo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)” (WCS Press Release). The Ministre de l’Économie Forestière en République du Congo (2) is responsible for protected areas, with a Commission Nationale de Classement approving the Loango Bay Marine Protected Area on 29 August 2022, the expansion of the maritime component of the Conkouati-Douli National Park on 30 August 2022 and the establishment of Mvassa Marine Protected Area on 31 August 2022.

WCS Press Release

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Solomon Islands: Temporary Suspension of Approvals Concerning Foreign Naval Visits or Patrols

On 30 August 2022, following the unsuccessful/aborted port calls of the USCGC Oliver Henry and HMAS Spey to the Solomon Islands during their participation in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency-led, Operation Island Chief, the Solomon Islands have indicated:

“[T]he need for the government to review and refine its approval requirements and procedures for visiting military vessels to Solomon Islands […] to this end we have requested our partners to give us time to review and put in place our new processes before sending further requests for military vessels to enter the country […]

The government has asked all partner countries with plans to conduct naval visits or patrols to put them on hold until a revised national mechanism is in place. These will universally apply to all visiting naval vessels”

GCU Press (30 August 2022)

The port call of USNS Mercy on 30 August 2022 was unaffected due to prior diplomatic clearance. Note, the GCU Press Release refers to a need for diplomatic clearance to enter the Solomon Islands “waters” and “the Government have communicated its position to all countries requesting to send in naval ships into Solomon Islands waters”.

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COSIS: Support Vanuatu Initiative to Seek an ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change

On 26 August 2022 the Commission of Small Island Developing States on Climate Change and International Law (current composition: Antigua and Barbuda, Tuvalu and Palau; previously reported) met virtually, including conferral with 14 appointed international experts and advisors (ACOSIS, Art. 2(3)) and approval of their recommendations in a “plan of action that is being developed”. COSIS may consider and request an advisory opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ACOSIS, Art. 2(2)), but during the meeting COSIS decided to also express full support (ACOSIS, Arts 1(3), 2(1)) for the separate Vanuatu initiative to Seek an ICJ advisory opinion on climate change through a UN General Assembly request (previously reported). Finally, three COSIS working groups were established (ACOSIS, Art. 3(4)) to “advance the objectives of the Commission”. The focus of each working group is not defined, although 3 thematic topics are evident when reading ACOSIS Arts 1(3) and 2(1). For more information see the COSIS Press Release (2).

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FAO: Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment

On 7 July 2022 the FAO Technical Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment adopted the Draft Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment (Appendix E of the Draft Report of the Technical Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment (FAO Doc. COFI/2022/INF/10). The Voluntary Guidelines will be presented to the Thirty-Fifth Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries, 5-9 September 2022, for endorsement, after which they will become an international instrument under the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries framework. For more information see the FAO Press Release.

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Japan: Approval to install treated water discharge facility at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

On 22 July 2022, Pursuant to the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Nuclear Reactors, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan approved the installation of an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water discharge facility at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. However, as clarified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan:

“[T]his does not mean that TEPCO can immediately start the discharge of the ALPS treated water into the sea. Before doing so, remaining processes, such as NRA’s Pre-Service Inspections to check and confirm the installation status of the discharge facilities, will continue. The discharge of the ALPS treated water into the sea will not start until after these steps are duly taken. The IAEA will continue to conduct its independent review throughout, including while these steps are taken, and the Government of Japan will carefully consider the findings and observations from the IAEA’s review”

MOFA Japan, https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/release/press4e_003146.html

For further information see the IAEA status updates and MOFA page.

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Ukraine/Türkiye/Russia: Black Sea Grain Initiative

On 22 July 2022 Ukraine, the Republic of Türkiye, and the Russian Federation signed the Initiative on the safe export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports (Black Sea Grain Initiative). The United Nations, represented by the UN Secretary-General, also signed as a witness. The text of the Black Sea Grain Initiative does not appear to be public, but as the Procedure for Merchant Vessels (August 2022) para. 3 details, the “purpose of this Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia from the Ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) (the Ukrainian ports)”. Within their scope of application, the rules of procedure apply as conditions of port entry or departure for said ports. On 27 July 2022 a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) was officially inaugurated in Istanbul, comprising representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Türkiye and the United Nations to facilitate the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The JCC “will monitor the movement of commercial vessels to ensure compliance with the initiative; focus on exporting bulk commercial grain and related food commodities only; ensure the on-site control and monitoring of cargo from Ukrainian ports; and report on shipments facilitated through the initiative”. As of 11 August 2022, it appears that 12 vessels have thereby departed Ukrainian ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative following the unlawful use of force by Russia (UNGA Resolution ES-11/1 Aggression against Ukraine) and the impact of the conflict on grain and agricultural exports. According to a Russian Statement, the Black Sea Grain Initiative will run for 120 days, with options to renew by 120 days with the agreement of all parties.

Concurrently, on 22 July 2022 Russia and the United Nations signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations on promoting the access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets. According to a Russian Statement, the MoU on Russian exports of agricultural products will remain valid for 3 years.

For more information see the JCC website.

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Compilation of textual proposals for consideration at fifth session of IGC on BBNJ Agreement

Accompanying the previously reported Further Revised Draft Text of A BBNJ Agreement, the President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) invited delegations to submit by 25 July 2022 textual proposals for consideration at the fifth session. The secretariat (DOLAS) was requested to produce a compilation of proposals received by that deadline (A/CONF.232/2022/5, para 12). On 1 August 2022 DOLAS released an article-by-article compilation (A/CONF.232/2022/INF.5), entitled, Textual proposals submitted by delegations by 25 July 2022, for consideration at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental conference 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 (the Conference), in response to the invitation by the President of the Conference in her Note of 1 June 2022 (A/CONF.232/2022/5).

For more information see the documents page for the fifth substantive session.

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China: Military Exercises and Training Activities Around Taiwan Island

On 2 August 2022, China provided notice that it will conduct military exercises and training activities, including live-fire drills, from 4-7 August 2022 in six defined maritime areas and their air space around Taiwan Island. Entry of vessels and aircraft into the above-mentioned sea and air space is prohibited during said period. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense described the “targeted drills” as ‘countermeasures’ in response to the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced other sanctions or ‘countermeasures‘ including in a maritime context.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan (R.O.C.) objected to the military exercises and training activities, including the launching of ballistic missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan Island. Japan lodged a diplomatic protest with China as reportedly the first occasion that Japan believes that Chinese ballistic missile have landed in Japan’s EEZ (5 missiles). A Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of China suggested China does not recognise Japan’s EEZ claim until maritime delimitation is completed. The G7 Foreign Ministers issued a Statement on Preserving Peace and Stability Across the Taiwan Strait (3 August 2022) calling for peaceful means, while ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued a Statement on The Cross Strait Development (3 August 2022), calling for maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action and for upholding the principles enshrined in United Nations Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

Notice authorized to be released by Xinhua News Agency

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Fiji/Solomon Islands: Maritime Boundary Agreement signed

On 11 July 2022 the Republic of Fiji and Solomon Islands signed the Agreement between the Republic of Fiji and Solomon Islands concerning their Maritime Boundary. Article 3 provides for a single delimitation line concerning both the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf entitlements of the Contracting Parties. The official press releases (2) note that the agreement is consistent with, and aligned with, the intention of all Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Members as expressed in the previously reported 2021 Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise. Thus, both Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare (Solomon Islands) and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (Fiji) thereby declare the “permanence of their country’s respective maritime zones, irrespective of climate change-related sea-level rise and its potential impact on maritime boundaries”. 

Illustrative purposes only: Agreement between the Republic of Fiji and Solomon Islands concerning their Maritime Boundary, Annex.

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Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels/Servicemen, Award on Preliminary Objections

The Arbitral Tribunal (UNCLOS, Annex VII) in respect of the Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation), PCA Case No. 2019-28, issued its Award on Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation on 27 June 2022. However, consistent with Article 28(6) of the Rules of Procedure, the Parties to the Dispute were given an opportunity to designate “confidential information that they request to be redacted” and so the Award was only publicly published on 11 July 2022. The Operative part of the Award (Para. 208) unanimously concluded:

For the reasons set out above, the Arbitral Tribunal
Article 298(1)(b) Objection
a. Finds that the events of 25 November 2018 until a point in time after the Ukrainian naval vessels left anchorage area No. 471 constitute “military activities” excluded from the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with Article 298(1)(b) of the Convention;
b. Finds that the events following the arrest of the Ukrainian naval vessels do not constitute “military activities” excluded from the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with Article 298(1)(b) of the Convention;
c. Decides that the determination of the precise point at which the events ceased to be “military activities” within the meaning of Article 298(1)(b) of the Convention shall be ruled upon in conjunction with the merits;
Article 288(1) Objection
d. Declares that the objection that UNCLOS does not provide for an applicable immunity does not possess an exclusively preliminary character;
e. Decides that the objection that UNCLOS does not provide for an applicable immunity shall be ruled upon in conjunction with the merits;
Article 290 and 296 Objection
f. Rejects the objection that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over alleged breaches of the ITLOS Provisional Measures Order;
Article 279 Objection
g. Declares that the objection that Article 279 of the Convention provides no basis for the Arbitral Tribunal to claim jurisdiction as to the alleged aggravation of the dispute does not possess an exclusively preliminary character;
h. Decides that the objection that Article 279 of the Convention provides no basis for the Arbitral Tribunal to claim jurisdiction as to the alleged aggravation of the dispute shall be ruled upon in conjunction with the merits;
Article 283 Objection
i. Rejects the objection that Ukraine has not complied with Article 283 of the Convention;
Further Proceedings
j. Decides that it has jurisdiction over the dispute between the Parties, subject to the jurisdictional limitations set out above;
k. Decides that the proceedings on the merits are hereby resumed, and that the Russian Federation shall submit a Counter-Memorial no later than six months from the date of this Award;
Costs
l. Decides that the question of costs shall be ruled upon in conjunction with the merits.

Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation), Award on Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation [208]

For further information see previous reports.

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2022 UN Ocean Conference: Lisbon Declaration

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference (The United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, occurred 27 June – 1 July 2022 in Lisbon (Portugal). The Conference adopted (A/CONF.230/2022/L1), without a vote, the Lisbon Declaration, entitled, Our ocean, our future, our responsibility (A/CONF.230/2022/L.2). In addition to this political declaration, many states made a host of new commitments, with “[c]lose to 700 commitments […] registered”.

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IGC President’s Further Revised Draft Text of A BBNJ Agreement

Pursuant to General Assembly Decision 76/564 (24 March 2022) a fifth session of the intergovernmental conference 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 will be convened 15–26 August 2022. On differences of opinion among states on whether the fifth session will be the final session to conclude an agreement see here.

The previously reported revised draft text of an agreement prepared by the President of the Conference, and previously reported textual proposals were considered at the fourth session (7-18 March 2022). The President of the Conference was requested to prepare a further revised draft text of an agreement, taking into account (1) the work of the fourth session, (2) delegation proposals in conference room papers during the fourth session, (3) proposals sent up until 31 March 2022. On 30 May 2022 the President of the Conference [Rena Lee (Singapore)] released an advanced version of the further revised draft text, entitled, Further 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. Delegations are given until 25 July 2022 to submit further textual proposals for consideration at the fifth session of the conference. It is expected the President of the Conference will once again publish a compilation of proposals submitted by the deadline in advance of the opening of the fifth session. Delegations will also be able to submit proposals during the fifth session itself.

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Croatia/Italy: EEZ delimitation agreed

The Governments of Croatia and of Italy have signed on 24 May 2022 an agreement on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones. See press release from the Government of Croatia and press release from the Government of Italia; see also the text of the agreement, which posits that if a dispute is not settled through direct consultations or negotiations, either Party may submit the dispute to ITLOS, the ICJ or an UNCLOS Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal (see Italian version here).

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USA: Ocean Shipping Reform Act passed by Congress

The Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, passed on 13 June 2022 the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. This bill revises requirements governing ocean shipping to increase the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through an ocean transportation system that is competitive, efficient, and economical. For example, the bill requires the FMC to (1) investigate complaints about detention and demurrage charges (i.e., late fees) charged by common ocean carriers, (2) determine whether those charges are reasonable, and (3) order refunds for unreasonable charges. It also prohibits common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, or ocean transportation intermediaries from unreasonably refusing cargo space when available or resorting to other unfair or unjustly discriminatory methods. See the text (reference S.3580) as approved by the U.S. Congress.

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Canada/Denmark: Hans Island/Tartupaluk maritime boundary dispute resolved

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, along with the Prime Minister of Greenland, signed on 14 June 2022 an agreement resolving outstanding boundary issues over Tartupaluk/Hans Island, the maritime boundary on the continental shelf within 200 nautical miles, including Lincoln Sea, and the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in Labrador Sea. The present agreement incorporates a tentative agreement from 2012 and establishes a modernized single maritime boundary within 200 nautical miles from Lincoln Sea in the north to Labrador Sea in the south – almost 3,000 km. The agreement also establishes a binding boundary line in the overlapping area of the outer continental shelf, which represents an equitable solution, consistent with article 83 of UNCLOS. See press releases from MFA Canada and MFA Denmark.

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BS MoU: Interim Guidance on Repatriation of Seafarers due to the Conflict in Ukraine published

The Secretariat of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Black Sea Region (BS MoU), have agreed on an interim guidance on the issue of repatriation of Ukrainian seafarers, creating a common approach for implementing inspection activities in respect to the repatriation of seafarers. Inter alia, the document encourages Port State Cntrol Officers to show “flexibility” and adopt a “pragmatic approach”, all the while considering that the port State should be assured that seafarers with certificates of competency and associated documentation issued by Ukraine might face difficulties when seeking their renewal. This Interim Guidance on Repatriation of Seafarers due to the Conflict in Ukraine published 10 May 2022 by the BS MoU is available here. A press release from BS MoU dated 19 April 2022 is here.

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EU/Norway: Understanding on Fisheries Management in Northeast Arctic

On 28 April 2022 the European Union and Norway reached an understanding on sustainable fisheries management in the Northeast Arctic (ICES subareas 1 and 2), including in the Fishery Protection Zone around Svalbard. The Ad-hoc exploratory consultations in relation to the fisheries in ICES areas 1 and 2 includes agreed cod quotas and consultations on (direct and by-catch) catch limits for other listed species. This resolves a bilateral disagreement brought to the surface following the 2021 UK-Norway Fisheries Agreement and Svalbard cod quota therein (see also, Agreed Record of Fisheries Consultations for 2022, press release, and 2020 Framework Agreement on Fisheries). Similar to the 2021 UK-Norway Fisheries Agreement, the 2022 EU-Norway Understanding notes “Norway’s rights and duties as a coastal State to regulate, in accordance with international law, the conservation and management of marine living resources in areas where it has sovereign rights, including in the Fishery Protection Zone around Svalbard” and is without prejudice to the Parties respective interpretations of the 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty, Part VII of UNCLOS, and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.

For more information see the Norwegian press release and EU press release.

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EU: Prohibition on Access to Port for Russian Flagged Vessels

On 8 April 2022 the Council of the European Union adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/578, as well as the corresponding regulatory action to ensure uniform application in all Member States (Recital 10), Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576. Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/578 introduced, among other measures, prohibitions on access to EU ports of vessels registered under the flag of Russia and recently reflagged (24 February 2022) vessels formerly registered under the flag of Russia (Article 1(18); inserting Article 4ha into Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP). Article 1(11) of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576 therefore inserts Article 3ea into Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014, whereby:

1.   It shall be prohibited to provide access after 16 April 2022 to ports in the territory of the Union to any vessel registered under the flag of Russia.

2.   Paragraph 1 shall apply to vessels that have changed their Russian flag or their registration, to the flag or register of any other State after 24 February 2022.

3.   For the purposes of this Article, a vessel means:

(a) a ship falling within the scope of the relevant international conventions;

(b) a yacht, of 15 metres in length or more, which does not carry cargo and carrying no more than 12 passengers; or

(c) recreational craft or personal watercraft as defined in Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.

4.  Paragraph 1 shall not apply in the case of a vessel in need of assistance seeking a place of refuge, of an emergency port call for reasons of maritime safety, or for saving life at sea.

5.  By way of derogation from paragraph 1, the competent authorities may authorise a vessel to access a port, under such conditions as they deem appropriate, after having determined that the access is necessary for:

(a) the purchase, import or transport into the Union of natural gas and oil, including refined petroleum products, titanium, aluminium, copper, nickel, palladium and iron ore, as well as certain chemical and iron products as listed in Annex XXIV;

(b) the purchase, import or transport of pharmaceutical, medical, agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers whose import, purchase and transport is allowed under this Regulation;

(c) humanitarian purposes;

(d) transport of nuclear fuel and other goods strictly necessary for the functioning of civil nuclear capabilities; or

(e) the purchase, import or transport into the Union of coal and other solid fossil fuels, as listed in Annex XXII until 10 August 2022.

6.   The Member State concerned shall inform the other Member States and the Commission of any authorisation granted under paragraph 5 within two weeks of the authorisation

Article 1(11) of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576 (footnotes omitted)

For more information see the Council of the EU press release and Official Journal of the European Union, L 111, 8 April 2022.

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UK: The Russia (Sanctions)(EU Exit)(Amendment)(No. 7) Regulations 2022

On 29 March 2022 The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations 2022 (S.I. 395/2022) were made and entered into force on 30 March 2022. The Regulations amend the previously reported Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/855), of relevance including the extension of “Crimea” shipping and trade sanctions to “non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts” (defined, Regulation 2); a prohibition of technical assistance relating to vessels to, or for the benefit of, designated persons (Regulation 46A); and the additions of penalties (Regulation 80) for offences under Part 6 (Ships). See further, the UK Government press release.

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EU: Member of North Pacific Fisheries Commission

On 23 March 2022 the European Union (EU) became a Member of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC), having acceded to the Convention for the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean. As required for accession under Article 24(2) of the NPFC Convention, existing Members reached consensus on inviting the EU to accede at the 6th Meeting of the NPFC (23-25 February 2021) (COM06 Report, para. 8). The NPFC was unable to reach consensus on the EU’s previous 2018 and 2019 requests to join, and the EU’s 2020 request was not considered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of NPFC Meeting. Some Members expressed concerns over EU fishing activities in the Convention Area, proposing conditions thereof (COM06 Report, para. 10; Annex D). For more information see here and here.

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ROK/Mexico: Proposal to amend 1996 London Protocol – sewage sludge dumping prohibition

On 25 March 2022, the Republic of Korea and Mexico submitted a Proposal to amend Annex 1 to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes or other Matter, 1972 to remove sewage sludge from the list of wastes or other matter that may be considered for dumping (LC44/10, annexed to Circular Letter No. 4539). The amendment is proposed under Article 21 of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Protocol) and would entail the deletion of sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes in Annex 1 of the London Protocol.

If the amendment is adopted, Article 4(1) of the London Protocol will apply to sewage sludge whereby:

Contracting Parties shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes or other matter with the exception of those listed in Annex 1.

London Protocol, Article 4(1).

Note, the governing bodies at the previous Meeting of Parties (43rd London Convention/16th London Protocol) in October 2021 agreed “that there was sufficient evidence and justification for amending Annex 1 to remove sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes” and “invited a Contracting Party or Parties to the London Protocol to propose an amendment to Annex 1 of the London Protocol to remove sewage sludge from the list of wastes or other matter that could be considered for dumping” (LC 43/17, paras. 10.16-10.24). The proposal is submitted for consideration and adoption at the 17th London Protocol Meeting of Contracting Parties (3-7 October 2022). For more information see the IMO press release.

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USA: Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 passed by House of Representatives

The United States House of Representatives passed the Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 to authorize appropriations for the Coast Guard, and for other purposes. Inter alia, this amendment provides the following amendments on “Manning and Crewing Requirements for Certain Vessels, Vehicles and Structures” (see Sec. 419):

The Secretary may provide an exemption (…) to the owner or operator of a covered facility if each individual who is manning or crewing the covered facility is – (1) a citizen of the United States; (2) an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence; or (3) a citizen of the nation under the laws of which the vessel is documented.
(…)
An exemption under this subsection is an exemption from the regulations established pursuant to section 30(a)(3) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1356(a)(3)).
(…)
An exemption under this section – (1) shall provide that the number of individuals manning or crewing the covered facility (…) (a) may not exceed two and one- half times the number of individuals required to man or crew the covered facility under the laws of the nation under the laws of which the covered facility is documented; and (2) shall be effective for not more than 12 months, but may be renewed by application to and approval by the Secretary.
(…)
The term ‘covered facility’ means any vessel, rig, platform, or other vehicle or structure, over 50 percent of which is owned by citizens of a foreign nation or with respect to which the citizens of a foreign nation have the right effectively to control, except to the extent and to the degree that the President determines that the government of such foreign nation or any of its political subdivisions has implemented, by statute, regulation, policy, or practice, a national manning requirement for equipment engaged in the exploring for, developing, or producing resources, including non-mineral energy resources in its offshore areas.

This Bill also imposes the purchase of automatic identification systems for fishing vessels, fish processing vessels, fish tender vessels more than 50 feet in length (see Sec. 307). The Bill was received in the United States Senate on 30 March 2022 and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. A full version of Bill H.R. 6865 may be found here.

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Norway: conviction in ship-breaking case upheld by Court of Appeal

A Court of Appeal in Norway (Gulating Lagmannsrett) confirmed the prison sentence of a ship owner for aiding and abetting the attempt to export a ship to Pakistan for scrapping, in violation of the Norwegian Pollution Control Act. The Court of Appeal found that it makes little difference to the criminality of the act if a shipowner himself sells the ship directly to a scrapper on the beach in Gadani, or sells to an intermediary and criminally contributes to its export and scrapping. Further information may be found in this press release from the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim). The background history on the case of this ship – the Harrier – was also published by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

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UK: consultation on the development of an Emissions Trading Scheme open

The Emissions Trading Scheme Authority of the United Kingdom (UK ETS) is seeking stakeholder views on proposals to develop the UK ETS which operates across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This call is of particular interest to individual companies and representatives of the maritime sector as Chapter 7 sets out proposals to expand the scope of the UK ETS to the domestic maritime sector. UK ETS replaced the UK’s participation in the EU ETS on 1 January 2021. This consultation is open until 17 June 2022; more information available here.

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UK: responses to the consultation on the draft nuclear ships regulations published

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the United Kingdom (UK) has published a summary of the responses to a consultation on the proposed Merchant Shipping (Nuclear Ships) Regulations. MCA had opened this consultation in August 2021 seeking views to assist in transposing Chapter VIII in the Annex to the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (‘SOLAS’ or ‘the Convention’) into UK law. Views were also sought on the accompanying draft Marine Guidance Notice. The UK Government now intends to make the Regulations and bring them into force by the autumn of 2022. The Marine Guidance Note will be finalised and published at that time. A summary of the responses to that consultation is available here.

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USA: Import prohibitions on Russian-origin fisheries & oil and gas sectors

On 8 March 2022 the President of the United States of America signed Executive Order 14066, entitled, Prohibiting Certain Imports and New Investments With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Efforts To Undermine the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Ukraine, which includes, among others, the following:

Section 1. (a) The following are prohibited:
(i) the importation into the United States of the following products of Russian Federation origin: crude oil; petroleum; petroleum fuels, oils, and products of their distillation; liquefied natural gas; coal; and coal products;

Executive Order 14066

On 11 March 2022 the President of the United States of America signed Executive Order 14068, entitled, Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression, which includes, among others, the following:

Section 1. (a) The following are prohibited:
(i) the importation into the United States of the following products of Russian Federation origin: fish, seafood, and preparations thereof; alcoholic beverages; non-industrial diamonds; and any other products of Russian Federation origin as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce;

Executive Order 14068

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Arctic Council: 7 Members Temporarily Pause Participation

On 3 March 2022, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States issued a joint statement, entitled, Joint Statement on Arctic Council Cooperation Following Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, stating “our representatives will not travel to Russia for meetings of the Arctic Council. Additionally, our states are temporarily pausing participation in all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, pending consideration of the necessary modalities that can allow us to continue the Council’s important work in view of the current circumstances”.

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UK/EU/Canada: entry into port banned for Russian vessels

The United Kingdom (UK) banned Russian owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged ships from entering UK ports. The ban entered into force on 1 March 2022 (see The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2022 here and here). See also the UK Department of Transport‘s press release.

The European Parliament adopted on 1 March 2022 a resolution (2022/2564(RSP)) calling for ports of European Union (EU) Member-States to block Russian vessels from entering. This call specifies that the ban should include “ships whose last or next port of call is in the Russian Federation, except in the case of necessary justified humanitarian reasons”.

Canada is also preparing to ban Russian vessels from entering its ports. A press release from the Government of Canada on the matter can be found here .

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Eritrea: Written Notice of IOTC Agreement Withdrawal

On 5 January 2022, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Secretariat issued IOTC Circular 2022-01, which includes a Communication (dated, 3 January 2022) from the the Government of the State of Eritrea on its intention to withdraw “its membership in the IOTC indefinitely as of the beginning of the year 2022”. Eritrea states it has “neither been an active member of the organisation nor did it honoured its financial obligations during the last 20 some years due to unfair, unfounded and unjustified sanctions imposed upon it”. Article XXI(1) of the IOTC Agreement provides that “Withdrawal shall become effective at the end of the calendar year following that in which the notice of withdrawal has been received by the Director- General” (i.e., 2023, unless the Commission makes a determination under Article IV(4)).

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