The United Nations Convention on the law of the sea provides that the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles and its delimitation between neighboring States are separate processes. This is reflected in article 76(10) of the Convention, which provides that the provisions of article 76 are without prejudice to the question of delimitation of the continental shelf. Article 9 of Annex ii to the Convention enjoins the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (clcs) that its actions shall not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States. The Commission has implemented the latter provision through Rule 46 of and Annex i to its Rules of Procedure. Paragraph 5(a) of Annex i implies that the consideration of a submission of a coastal State on the outer limits of the continental shelf by the Commission may be blocked by another State and this has happened in practice in a considerable number of cases. This implies that a coastal State will not be in position to establish final and binding continental shelf limits on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission, as is envisaged by article 76 of the Convention. Creating certainty about the extent of the continental shelf, and hence the limits of the Area, is one of the key objectives of the Convention. The Convention itself does not provide for the possibility that other States may block the consideration by the Commission of submissions of coastal States. The paper considers whether paragraph 5(a) of Annex i to the Commission’s Rules of Procedure has provided the proper approach to implementing article 9 of Annex ii to the Convention, what options are available to coastal States whose submission has been blocked in the clcs and whether Annex i to the Convention might be amended by the Commission.
To address the question how a future instrument for areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) might give consideration to the rights and obligations of coastal States and other States in establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) in ABNJ, the current article discusses the options that have been tabled in this respect in the preparatory meetings for the intergovernmental conference that will be negotiating that instrument. In considering the current legal framework, the focus is on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), as the new instrument is to be elaborated under the LOSC and is required to be fully consistent with it. The article analyses the relevant practice of four specific regions that have established MPAs in ABNJ. The article concludes that due regard is fundamental in addressing interactions between coastal States and other States and considers some options to provide it with specific content.
The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles under Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) is a complex process, which requires a coastal state to dedicate significant resources. To understand the reasons for the inclusion of this complex provision in the LOSC, this article first looks at the origins of Article 76. Subsequently, a number of provisions of Article 76 are considered to illustrate the questions which exist in connection with its application and interpretation. It is concluded that Article 76 fulfills the mandate that had been given to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in respect of the definition of the limits of national jurisdiction, notwithstanding the complexity of the issue and the interests involved. Before the Third Conference started there was no certainty about the extent of the continental shelf. Article 76 provides a procedure to arrive at precisely defined outer limits. Once Article 76 will have been implemented by all the present states parties to the Convention, most of the outer limits of the continental shelf vis-à-vis the Area will be defined in precise terms.
Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes a regime for the Area. The regime of the high seas set out in Part VII of the Convention is also applicable to the Area. Neither Part VII nor Part XI of the Convention exhaustively de fines which ocean uses fall within their scope of application. This article analyzes the relevant provisions of the Convention and comments on recent developments that shed further light on the regime of Part XI in relation to the regime of Part VII. It concludes that Part XI's common heritage principle is relevant for all uses of the Area that concern the exploration and exploitation of the Area, including its living resources. Recent developments reveal continued differences of views on the scope of application and implications of the regime set out in Part XI. The provisions of the Convention on marine scientific research and environmental protection would seem to offer sufficient flexibility to frame more detailed rules that do not require the prior resolution of those differences.