Provisional Application of an Amendment to the London Protocol to Facilitate Collaborative CCS Projects

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF version: Blog_NBankes_Article6 (GZ DW edit)(NB)

Document Commented On: Resolution LP.5(14) on the Provisional Application of the 2009 Amendment to Article 6 of the London Protocol, adopted 11 October 2019, by the 14th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matters. [Note: Documents relating to the London Convention and Protocol including this document may be accessed on the website of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) here but users have to create an account to obtain access. Follow “Meeting Documents” and then LC Documents (Session 41). For convenience, the text of the Resolution is included at the foot of this post].

This post examines the recent decision of the Contracting Parties to the 1996 Protocol (the London Protocol or LP) to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matters (London Dumping Convention or LC) to agree to the provisional application of an amendment to Article 6 of the LP. That amendment (originally adopted in 2009) when it enters into force will allow the export of CO2 for geological sequestration. The amendment is a crucial piece of the puzzle to permit collaborative projects for the subsea disposal of captured carbon dioxide emissions from industrial facilities located elsewhere than the coastal State responsible for the disposal site. This initiative, which will permit provisional application of that amendment, will help facilitate projects such as the Equinor-led Northern Lights Project on the Norwegian continental shelf. That project is currently drilling a test well: see here and here.

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Posted in Law of the Sea Convention, London Dumping Convention, London Protocol | Leave a comment

Palestine Takes to the Sea: a Commentary on Palestine’s Declaration concerning its Maritime Claims

By: Nicholas A. Ioannides

Pdf version: NCLOS Blog 20.11.2019 Ioannides Palestine maritime claims

Matter commented on: Declaration of the State of Palestine regarding its Maritime Boundaries in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, September 24, 2019

Introduction On 24 September 2019, the State of Palestine transmitted to the United Nations a Declaration whereby it promulgates its maritime assertions under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (‘LOSC’) including tables of coordinates and a map depicting its claimed maritime area. It is worth recalling that following its accession to the LOSC the State of Palestine sent a similar declaration to the UN in 2015, albeit without coordinates and map. Notably, a short while ago an article outlined Palestine’s strategy aiming at both promoting and safeguarding the latter’s rights over the sea waters adjacent to Gaza. This post comments on the latest Declaration by the State of Palestine and highlights certain noteworthy aspects of it.

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Posted in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Maritime delimitation, Territorial Sea Delimitation | Leave a comment

Welcome to you all, new NCLOS Blog’s Readers!

The Norwegian Centre of the Law of the Sea research activity has started and this blog aims to become a new breeding ground of ideas for the passionate of the law of the sea, ocean governance and all related topics.

I am inspired, humbled and honoured to take up the baton from Nigel Bankes and be the blog editor of this new season. In this blog, we want to share ideas, news and best practices about laws and oceans, and develop stronger connections with the ocean-based research community.

You will be exposed to our views ocean law and governance-related topics. You are more than welcome to respond, add comments and suggestions, disagree and express dissenting opinions. I ask to keep the comments relevant to the conversations taking place here so that we can always be kind and respectful to all those involved and add value and depth to the dialogue in a constructive manner.

Young scholars (in age and spirit), PhD students and LLM students that are willing to publish their Master thesis’ findings, are especially encouraged to contact us: this blog is meant to be a platform to develop your creative research and writing skills as young explorers! I encourage you to visit the NCLOS website and learn about us, about our current and future research areas, about who we are and our core values.

It will be my task to receive your contributions (short opinion pieces as well as more in-depth analyses that draw attention to your field of expertise), news, interesting events, book reviews and reading suggestions. Please feel free to contact me for more information and consider subscribing and engaging in discussion around the notion of ocean governance, which I believe is central for a better common future in research.

Thank you for reading and visiting, and helping us build a vibrant research community focused on observations, research and exchange of views around our wonderful oceans.


With gratitude,

Margherita Paola Poto,

Forsker, NCLOS UiT, Tromsø

Email contact:

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Settlement of the Dispute concerning the Arctic Sunrise – A belated recognition of the relevance of the award on the merits in the Arctic Sunrise case?

By: Alex Oude Elferink

PDF version:

Document commented upon: Joint statement of the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on scientific cooperation in the Russian Arctic region and the settlement of a dispute (Joint statement)

In the fall of 2013, the detention of the vessel Arctic Sunrise and its crew by Russian security forces was breaking news. The detention followed a protest action of Greenpeace activists against the rig Prirazlomnaia, which planned to begin the commercial production of oil in the Pechora Sea in the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation accused the activists of engaging among others in piracy and hooliganism. The activists faced criminal charges entailing long-term prison terms. The detention of the vessel and its crew prompted the Netherlands, the flag State of the Arctic Sunrise, to start arbitral proceedings against the Russian Federation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convention), to which both States are parties. The Russian Federation immediately rejected that the arbitral tribunal had the jurisdiction to deal with this dispute and abstained from participating in the proceedings. However, the non-participation of the Russian Federation did not stop the arbitral procedure. Prior to the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), in an order indicating provisional measures to protect the rights of the Netherlands, had already ordered the Russian Federation to release the Arctic Sunrise and its crew. Although the Russian Federation did not comply with the order of the ITLOS, it did release the crew of the Arctic Sunrise as part of an amnesty in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution in December 2013. The bill introduced in the State Duma was amended at the last moment to include the charges that had been brought against the crew members. This probably did much to defuse media attention for the Arctic Sunrise incident in the Western press. The Arctic Sunrise itself was eventually allowed to leave the Russian port of Murmansk in June of 2014. Continue reading

Posted in Arbitration, coastal states, Due Regard, flag states, freedom of expression, Hot pursuit, human rights law, Installations, Jurisdiction, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Safety Zones | Leave a comment

Freedom of Navigation Following the M/V “Norstar” Case

By: Arron N. Honniball

Pdf version:

Case commented on: The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Judgement in the M/V “Norstar” Case Between Panama and Italy, 10 April 2019.


The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered its Judgement in the M/V “Norstar” Case (Panama v. Italy) on 10 April 2019: The M/V “Norstar” Case (Panama v. Italy) Judgement. The Tribunal found that Italy violated Article 87(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but did not violate Article 300 of UNCLOS.  Article 87(2) of UNCLOS was found to be inapplicable (“Norstar” Judgement, para 469).

The factual background in brief is that the M/V “Norstar” was an oil tanker flying the Panamanian flag. According to Italy, an investigation into the activities of M/V “Norstar” and the “bunkering brokers” registered in Italy (Rossmare International S.A.S.) “revealed ‘that the M/V Norstar was involved in the business of selling the fuel purchased in Italy in exemption of tax duties to a clientele of Italian and other EU leisure boats in the international waters [high seas] off the coasts of the Italian city of Sanremo’” (“Norstar” Judgement, paras 69-70). Italy initiated criminal proceedings against the individuals involved and also issued a decree of seizure against the M/V “Norstar” as the corpus delicti of the alleged crimes. Spain enforced the decree of seizure when the M/V “Norstar” was within Spanish internal waters (“Norstar” Judgement, paras 70-75). An Italian court eventually ordered that the M/V “Norstar” be released and returned to its owners following the acquittal of the persons involved; but M/V Norstar’s owners never took possession and the vessel was auctioned off by the Spanish port authority (“Norstar” Judgement, paras 80-86).

This post analyses the doctrinal contributions of the Norstar” Judgement to both freedom of navigation (Article 87(1)(a) of UNCLOS) and exclusive flag state jurisdiction (Article 92(1) of UNCLOS). The post concludes with a brief discussion as to if and why the Tribunal may wish to clarify its position on these issues in any forthcoming M/T “San Padre Pio” Case (Switzerland v. Nigeria), Order. Continue reading

Posted in Article 87, Article 92, Jurisdiction, Law of the Sea Convention, Treaty Interpretation | 1 Comment

Navigational rights of warships through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – all bark and no bite?

By: Jan Jakub Solski

PDF version:

Document commented on: Draft Resolution of the Government of Russia on Amendments to the Resolution of the Government of Russia No. 1102, 2 October 1999, “On the rules of navigation and presence of foreign warships and other state-owned ships operated for non-commercial purposes in the territorial sea, internal waters, on naval bases, and bases for stationing warships in seaports of the Russian Federation”.

This document, originally prepared by the Russian Ministry of Defense, 1 March 2019, has been subject to consultations since then. While it remains to be seen whether or not the Government of Russia ever adopts this Resolution, some of its central ideas deserve comment. To that end this blog post discusses the following points:

  1. The background to this proposal;
  2. Its central elements;
  3. The question of applicable navigational rights within the straits of the NSR;
  4. The question of the (in)consistency of the proposed measures with international law and Russia’s earlier positions.


In September 2019, the French Navy’s new offshore support and assistance vessel, the Rhône (A603) transited the Northeast Passage, starting in Tromsø, Norway, 1 September and ending in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 17 September. There is little explicit information available as to whether the vessel coordinated its plans with Russian authorities beforehand, but Russian sources refer to the voyage as conducted “without warning”. It is clear that the vessel navigated independently, without icebreaker assistance or pilotage, although the Russian news agency Interfax informs that the vessel was “monitored” by the radio intelligence equipment of the Northern and Pacific fleets in their areas of responsibility in the Russian Arctic.

Over the past years, different signals, such as the diplomatic note of 29 May 2015, have been coming from another NATO member State, the United States, indicating the US objections and concerns regarding Russia’s NSR regulatory scheme, and, more recently, its readiness to take concrete action by transiting the Russian Arctic with surface vessels as part of the US Freedom of Navigation Program. Continue reading

Posted in Article 234, innocent passage, Law of the Sea Convention, Northern Sea Route, pilotage, prior notification, Russia, warships | Leave a comment

Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea (Version 1, 5 April 2019) – a contribution to the discussion on human rights in the maritime context

By: Jessica Schechinger

PDF version: JCLOS Blog_May 6 2019_Human rights at sea Declaration

Document commented on: Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea (Version 1, 5 April 2019)

On 5 April 2019, the first version of the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea (hereafter: the Declaration) was published by Human Rights at Sea (hereafter, HRAS). HRAS is a charity based in the United Kingdom, that recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. It aims to raise ‘global awareness of human rights abuses at sea’, by undertaking research, investigation and advocacy.

According to HRAS’ press release, the Declaration was published on the basis of the first drafting session which took place in Geneva on 20-21 March 2019. Anna Petrig (a member of the board of advisors of HRAS), Irini Papanicolopulu, Steven Haines (a trustee of HRAS), and David Hammond (the founder of HRAS and currently a trustee) are the drafters of the Declaration. They were assisted by Elisabeth Mavropoulou and Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi.

The HRAS press release revealed that ‘[t]he first drafting round was supported with input and observers from multiple UN agencies, leading human rights lawyers, international and civil society organisations’. The press release did not specify who was involved, but hopefully this will be revealed after the second drafting session. This second drafting session is envisaged to be held in Geneva in May 2019, which is also when the four Annexes (entitled ‘Contemporary Evidence of Human Rights Abuses at Sea’ (A); ‘List of Applicable Fundamental Human Rights at Sea’ (B); ‘Commentary’ (C); and ‘Operationalising Human Rights at Sea’ (D)) will be finalised (at 3). As the Declaration is a work in progress, the following short blog post offers only some preliminary thoughts. Continue reading

Posted in enforcement, human rights law, Jurisdiction | Leave a comment

Assessing the role of strategic environmental assessments in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction

By: Kristine Gu

PDF version:

Document commented on: President’s aid to negotiations on the 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, A/Conf.232/2019/1.

The year 2020 will be a milestone year for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an opportunity to reflect on the progress made, and the hurdles still ahead, in attaining these goals. SDG 14 addresses the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources. It sets out to tackle several issues by 2020 that plague the marine environment, including overfishing and ocean acidification, and to manage marine ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts (Targets 14.2–14.4). SDG 14 points to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) as the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and marine resources (Target 14.C).

2020 also coincides with the final substantive session of the intergovernmental conference (IGC) on an international legally binding agreement (ILBI) under LOSC on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). Key elements of the ILBI will not only uphold LOSC mandates but also provide the tools essential to achieving the targets under SDG 14.

The first session of the IGC convened in September of last year. Discussions were centered around the four key elements of the “package deal” agreed upon in 2011, including environmental impact assessments (EIAs). An overview of the history and objectives of the IGC and the ILBI are provided for in the JCLOS blog posts of 17 August 2015 by Anna-Maria Hubert and 21 October 2016 by Christian Prip.

Delegates will gather again in New York at the end of this month for the second session of the IGC, with a focus on the Zero-Draft contained in the IGC President’s Aid to Negotiations (A/Conf.232/2019/1). Options to treaty text in the Zero-Draft take into consideration discussions from the first session, as well as the Preparatory Committee’s (PrepCom) recommendations in its 2017 report (A/AC.287/2017/PC.4/2), to reflect the general trend in the current dialogue.

This blog post focuses on the treatment of strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) by the IGC within the ambit of the EIA Working Group with a view to demonstrating the role of SEAs in pursuing SDG 14 and in the good governance of marine biodiversity. The post first lays out the nature and purpose of SEAs, and their use in existing environmental agreements. It then reviews delegate positions from the first session and as reflected in the Zero-Draft to uncover the ways in which SEAs may be developed in the ILBI. Continue reading

Posted in Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), Biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), Environment, Implementing agreements, Law of the Sea Convention, Marine biodiversity, Strategic environmental assessments (SEA) | Leave a comment

Reflecting on the meaning of “not undermining” ahead of IGC-2

By: Vito De Lucia

PDF version:

Matter commented on: Intergovernmental Conference on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction


After years of preliminary and preparatory discussions, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (A/RES/72/249) finally launched an intergovernmental conference (IGC) with the purpose of adopting a new global treaty on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The IGC is soon to hold its second substantive session (IGC-2) following an organizational meeting held in April 2018, and a first substantive session (IGC-1) held in September 2018. IGC-1 has arguably shown progress, though not on certain key issues, such as the legal status of marine genetic resources, and a regime to share the benefits arising from their utilization. One of the questions that remains unresolved is the meaning of a key sentence that delimits the mandate of the IGC vis-à-vis existing bodies and institutions. UNGA Resolution 72/249 sets out that the new instrument “should not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies”. Given that the IGC is moving towards text-based negotiations, and that one of the crucial negotiating issues is the institutional architecture, and further, that the interaction between a future BBNJ agreement and existing legal instruments and frameworks and other global, regional and sectoral bodies will be inevitable, it is perhaps time to address and resolve this issue. This post offers some inputs with the aim of furthering the debate on the meaning of “not undermining.” Continue reading

Posted in Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), Biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), Implementing agreements, Law of the Sea Convention, Marine biodiversity | Leave a comment

The Senator Case – A new turn in Norway’s dealings with foreign vessels operating in the waters off Svalbard

By: Tore Henriksen

PDF version:

Decision commented on: Judgment of Grand Chamber of the Norwegian Supreme Court in criminal proceedings (HR.2019-282S) A and SIA North Star vs. Prosecuting Authority

On 14 February 2019, the Supreme Court of Norway gave judgement in the Senator case, dismissing the appeals of the owner and the master of the Senator, a Latvian flagged fishing vessel. In the Courts of Appeal, the owner and master had been found guilty of violating the 2014 Regulation on prohibition on harvest of snow crabs (Snow crab regulation) through activities on the Norwegian continental shelf within the 200 nautical miles Fisheries Protection Zone (FPZ) off the archipelago of Svalbard. The vessel owner was fined NOK 150.000 and had to bear a confiscation of NOK 1.000.000. The master was fined NOK 40.000.

The Senator case adds to several criminal cases before the Supreme Court since the 1990s – see the Kiel case in a previous blog by Irene Dahl – where the defendants (owners of fishing vessels and masters) have disputed the charges of violating fisheries regulations in the 200 nautical miles Fisheries Protection Zone. They have argued that the regulations were not applicable as they were inconsistent with the non-discrimination obligation of Norway under the 1920 Treaty concerning Spitsbergen (Svalbard Treaty). In its decisions, the Supreme Court has avoided deciding whether this and other obligations are applicable in the maritime zones beyond the 12 nautical miles territorial sea. The Senator case is somewhat different from the previous cases as it concerned violation of a regulation prohibiting the harvest of snow crab, defined by Norway as a sedentary species. Sedentary species and hydrocarbon resources are part of the continental shelf regime of the law of the sea, cf. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC), Article 77. A judgment in the Senator case addressing the relationship between the Snow crab regulation and the Svalbard Treaty could potentially have implications for the management of the hydro­carbon resources of the continental shelf off Svalbard. This relates to both the obligation under the Svalbard Treaty articles 2 and 3 not to discriminate between the subjects of the contracting parties and the restrictions on taxation under article 8. Continue reading

Posted in Fisheries, Norway, Norwegian Fisheries Law, Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone, Svalbard Treaty, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties | Leave a comment