International sea law in the news

By | 30 January 2014

In the closing months of 2013,  all varieties of media – old-style (tv, radio and newspapers) and new/social (campaigners’ website etc) – ensured that the  voyage of Greenpeace’s icebreaker Arctic Sunrise  and the subsequent plight of her crew, the Arctic 30, was well and truly in the public eye. Now that the drama is out of the headlines, it is perhaps a good time to look at a couple of tools and e resources which might be useful  for reflective studies and/or considering the wider implications.
When it comes to (re)discovering what the world’s newspapers said, OU lawyers – as holders of an Oxford Single Sign On – should remember Nexis UK  .  Not least because a search there may serve as a reminder that this is the database via which they can access  OU’s subscription to the International Enforcement Law Reporter!

Nexis UK search screen

Nexis UK search screen

A well-established but freely accessible online site to look for considered responses to international law in the news is the Insight service from the American Society of International Law.  When the screen shot below was taken (on 22 January 2014) an article called The Arctic Sunrise and NGOs in International Judicial Proceedings by Anna Dolidze was top of the bill. (The archive of previous issues is also kept available.)

Latest issues feature on home page

Latest issues feature on home page: click on Expand Search Filters to search archive

By November 2013, the  International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea had to consider its 22nd case – the Kingdom of the Netherlands (because the Arctic Sunrise sailed under the Dutch flag) v Russian Federation, (Provisional Measures). The ITLOS website is an excellent example of the power of the internet to enhance transparency during court proceedings, to keep any interested person informed and updated regardless of their physical location, and to collect & present material in a variety of formats.

Case page on ITLOS website

Case page on ITLOS website

The President of the Tribunal, Shunji Yanai, has already predicted that 2014 will be a heavy year for the court:  “It was deliberating on the merits of the M/V “Virginia G” case between Panama and Guinea-Bissau and intended to deliver its judgement next year.  It had received a new case early this year from the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission, comprising seven West African States, and asked to render an advisory opinion under article 138 of its Rules.  He had made appointments to the arbitral tribunal concerning arbitral proceedings instituted by Argentina against Ghana, the Philippines against China, and for arbitral proceedings for the settlement of the maritime delimitation dispute between Bangladesh and India in the Bay of Bengal.  He also drew attention to the Tribunal’s capacity-building programmes on the peaceful settlement of disputes, among them, a workshop in Mexico City in June on dispute settlement, the Tribunal’s internship programme, and a capacity-building and training programme for young Government officials and researchers.” (see  Sixty-eighth General Assembly Plenary 62nd & 63rd Meetings (AM & PM) UN GA/11466) If you are interested in any of the above – perhaps now would be a good time to subscribe to the ITLOS Press Release service! The International Journal of Marine & Coastal Law  (one of the Brill international law journals for which the Law Bod has a subscription) includes an annual survey of Dispute settlement in ILOS.

Anyone with an Oxford Single Sign On who needs an introduction to the law of the sea, ITLOS and its case law should first turn to MPEPIL Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law. As of January 2014 the e-version has 35 articles on the general subject matter of the law of the sea –  and thanks to its stable partner ORIL Oxford Reports on International Law, it is linked to the full-text of  15 ITLOS judgments (Case numbers 1-3,5-15.)  Among the 75 articles revised in the e-encyclopedia’s rolling updating programme (unspecified how often – but perhaps on average twice a year) are some ILOS issues – including  some Greenpeace issues such as the Environmental Protection of Regional Seas (in this instance Antarctica), and Whaling. (The print copy of course lacks the whizzy features, but is available on open shelf on Floor 3 of the Law Bod at Internat 500 E56c.)

Finally, don’t forget that the free web is being increasingly used to make academic lectures available to anyone, not just those enrolled at a particular university. One multi-topic platform that anyone interested in  international law should keep an eye on is the United Nations AudioVisual Lecture Series. Below is a screen shot of the library of ILOS topics – and future additions are promised.

Navigate to topics via the links in left hand column

Navigate to other areas of pil via the links in left hand column

Having rambled away from the specific to the general, at least this post can finish back on point – as there is a Youtube video from Maastricht University of the lecture by Liesbeth Lijnzaad,  Professor of the Practice of International Law there, who acted as legal adviser to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Arctic Sunrise Case!

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