The ‘Predominant Interest’ Concept in Maritime Boundary Delimitation

32 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020

Date Written: April 21, 2020


It is evident in State practice that the driving force behind attempts to delimit maritime zones is the desire of States to avail themselves of the benefits accruing from offshore natural resources. As a matter of fact, the concepts of continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) were devised in order to facilitate a range of maritime activities, especially exploitation of natural resources. Notwithstanding the fact that non-geographical factors (ie natural resources, defence/security, navigation) are -one way or another- linked to the concepts of continental shelf/EEZ, international courts and tribunals have not attached great importance to those factors, at least explicitly, during maritime delimitation process. However, it seems that such factors have always been in the judges’ mind owing to their relation with the continental shelf/EEZ. The concept analyzed in this article refers to the aggregation of a gamut of non-geographical factors which, although they have not been taken into account separately in delimitation cases, they tend to evidence the existence of fundamental/vital interests, which form a broader one, namely the ‘predominant interest’. This concept should be used in order to ascertain whether a specific maritime area is essential to and must not be taken away from a coastal State following the designation of a maritime boundary. Therefore, it is suggested that the ‘predominant interest’ should be used for checking the equitableness of the designated boundary at the second stage of the delimitation process, after the relevant geographical factors have been examined.

Keywords: Maritime delimitation, relevant circumstances, non-geographical factors, predominant interest, predictability

Suggested Citation

Ioannides, Nicholas, The ‘Predominant Interest’ Concept in Maritime Boundary Delimitation (April 21, 2020). 2019 ESIL Annual Conference, Athens, 12-14 September 2019 , Available at SSRN: or

Nicholas Ioannides (Contact Author)

University of Nicosia ( email )

46 Makedonitissas Avenue
Nicosia, Nicosia 24005

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