The Status of Crimea and the Sea of Azov as a Jurisdictional Hurdle in Ukraine v. Russia

A Comment on the unclos Annex vii Arbitral Tribunal’s Award concerning Preliminary Objections

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Valentin Johannes SchatzResearch Associate, Institute for the Law of the Sea and Maritime Law, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg, Germany,

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On 21 February 2020, the arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex vii of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (unclos) in the Dispute Concerning Coastal State Rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation) rendered its award concerning preliminary objections. This comment focuses on the arbitral tribunal’s findings concerning Russia’s two most important and far-reaching objections, both of which concern jurisdiction ratione materiae. First, it argues that the arbitral tribunal convincingly declined jurisdiction over those of Ukraine’s claims, which would have required the arbitral tribunal to decide the dispute between Ukraine and Russia concerning sovereignty over Crimea. Second, this comment analyzes the arbitral tribunal’s conclusion that the parties’ dispute concerning the status of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait was not of an exclusively preliminary character and must, therefore, be reserved for the proceedings on the merits.

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