Harald Brekke

For the purposes of the Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention), its article 76 defines a set of scientific terms and rules for the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (M). A Commission of scientific experts, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (the Commission) is established to give advice and recommendations to the coastal States on matters regarding the application of article 76. To date, the Commission has developed a precedence in the interpretation and application of many of the most basic concepts of article 76, including the classification of seafloor highs. It has also developed a precedence in dealing with submissions made in the cases of coastal States with adjacent or opposite coasts. However, the Commission still struggles in cases where matters related to the implementation of other parts of the Convention or other treaties are brought on the table by States Parties. It is now clear that the Commission will have to deal with more than 100 submissions from a total of around 90 coastal States, which implies that the work of the Commission will have a much wider impact than originally envisaged. Consistency in the approach and practice on these matters by the Commission becomes very important for the successful implementation of the continental shelf regime. This puts a great responsibility on the members of the Commission to observe the precedence based on past practice. It also puts similar responsibility on States Parties not to abuse the role of the Commission.