Illegality of Actions of the Russian Federation with Regard to the Vessel Arctic Sunrise

3 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2013

Date Written: September 22, 2013


Recent actions by agents of the Russian Federation (Russia) in connection with the Greenpeace vessel ARCTIC SUNRISE (IMO: 7382902, Flag: Netherlands) in the Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone raise a number of issues under international law. From the information publicly available at this time, it appears that Russia has disregarded several of its international obligations in order to force environmental activists to end peaceful protests.

On Wednesday, 18 September 2013, activists from the ARCTIC SUNRISE staged a protest at the oil rig PRIRAZLOMNAYA, which is located in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Russian Federation. The activists and vessel were forced away from the area by Russian agents who fired a several weapons, including automatic firearms in the vicinity of inflatable boats used by the Greenpeace activists. Said inflatable boats were also rammed and slashed. On Thursday, 19 September 2013, the ARCTIC SUNRISE was taken over by armed Russian agents inside Russia’s EEZ. The crew was detained.

Russia’s actions with regard to the ARCTIC SUNRISE are incompatible with the international law of the sea as codified in the Law of the Sea Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and possibly other international treaties. It appears that Russia has violated the human rights of the crew members as well as rights of the flag State (Netherlands) and of the crew members‘ respective home States. In order to comply with international law, Russia has to ensure the speedy release of the vessel and its crew.

Keywords: Greenpeace, Arctic Sunrise, Russia, Law of the Sea, Human Rights, European Convention

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Kirchner, Stefan, Illegality of Actions of the Russian Federation with Regard to the Vessel Arctic Sunrise (September 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Stefan Kirchner (Contact Author)

Firelaw Project ( email )



Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics