The United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) has decided to include the topic “sea-level rise in relation to international law” in its programme of work and established a Study Group. The Study Group will focus on the subject of sea-level rise in relation to the law of the sea. The ILC expects to receive, by 31 December 2019, examples from States of their practice that could be relevant (even if indirectly) to sea-level rise or other changes in circumstances of a similar nature. Such practice could, for example, relate to baselines and where applicable archipelagic baselines, closing lines, low-tide elevations, islands, artificial islands, land reclamation and other coastal fortification measures, limits of maritime zones, delimitation of maritime boundaries, and any other issues relevant to the subject. More information is available here.
Category Archives: State Practice
The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has approved and endorsed a joint claim from the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. The joint claim over 600,000 square kilometers of additional seabed, on what is known as the Ontong Java Plateau, was lodged in 2009. More information is available here and here.
Tuvaijuittuq is the first Marine Protected Area to be designated by ministerial order under the Oceans Act for interim protection. Under the order, no new or additional human activities will be allowed to occur in the area for up to five years, with the following exceptions: the exercise of Inuit rights respecting wildlife harvesting as provided for under the Nunavut Agreement; marine scientific research consistent with the conservation objectives of the MPA; safety, security and emergency activities; certain activities carried out by a foreign national, entity, ship or state. The objective of this MPA is to contribute to the conservation, protection and understanding of the natural diversity, productivity and dynamism of the High Arctic sea ice ecosystem. This MPA encompasses an area of 319 411 km2. More information is available here.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey’s territorial seas shall increase in size on 23 July 2019. The current limit of the Bailiwick’s territorial seas is 3 nautical miles (nm) from the baselines. The new limit will be 12 nm. The territorial sea would extend to less than 12 nm wherever the distance between the baselines of the Bailiwick and the baselines of another party (France or Jersey) is less than 24 nm. Fishing access in the waters around the Bailiwick, from 0 to 12 nautical miles, will remain unchanged on the date of extension. The Bailiwick fisheries management regime will also remain the same as it was before extension until any new regime is subsequently agreed. More information is available here.
The President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction has released an advanced version of the text, entitled, 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, 25 June 2019. This was produced in response to a request during the second session of the IGC. Its aim is “to facilitate further progress in the negotiations”.
For the draft text, see here.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), was seised of a dispute between Guatemala and Belize by way of a special agreement. In 2008, the two States concluded an agreement to submit Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claim to the International Court of Justice, which was subsequently amended by a protocol concluded in 2015. The Parties now request the Court to determine in accordance with applicable rules of international law as specified in Article 38(1) of the Statute of the Court any and all legal claims of Guatemala against Belize to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories, to declare the rights therein of both Parties, and to determine the boundaries between their respective territories and areas.
More information on the case and the referenda that led to it can be found in the ICJ press release, at the Belize Referendum Commission website and in a presentation held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala (in Spanish).
In accordance with Article 76(8) of UNCLOS, Canada has on 23 May 2019 made a partial submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. The submission will be included in the provisional agenda of the fifty-second session of the CLCS.
For further information and an executive summary see here and the press release. This follows the 11 April 2019 partial submission of Indonesia in respect of an area North of Papua (Eauripik Rise) and the 26 March 2019 partial submission of Mauritius concerning the Southern Chagos Archipelago region.