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The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea: The Final Answer or an Interim Solution to the Caspian Question?

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Author:
Elena Karataeva Faculty of Law, Monash University Clayton, Victoria Australia
Faculty of Law, Monash University Clayton, Victoria Australia

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Abstract

This article analyses new developments in the question of the Caspian Sea legal status, namely the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea on 12 August 2018 in Kazakhstan, after twenty-six years in the making. First, the article provides an overview of the history of the Caspian Sea ownership and examines the legal status question from the collapse of the USSR to the present day. Then, the text of the newly signed Convention is examined to determine whether it provides the final answers to the issues of the legal status and delimitation of the sea. It is contended that despite this seminal breakthrough, the convention does not provide a complete solution. Specifically, while it establishes Caspian Sea zones and their limits, it fails to clarify some key contentious aspects, including delimitation principles between the opposite and adjacent Caspian States, which remain to be determined bilaterally.

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