Dispute Settlement on the Law of the Sea: An Overview
Nanjing University - Law School
April 4, 2004
The law of the sea is no more than a part of international law. Though there is a special international tribunal in this area for the law of the sea, the maritime dispute settlement still defer to the framework of dispute settlement of international law. This note will take an opportunity to review the international dispute settlement system from the law of the sea perspective.The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 Convention, hereinafter) contains detailed provisions regarding the resolution of law of the sea disputes. One of the great successes of the 1982 Convention is the inclusion of a comprehensive procedure for dispute settlement. The dispute settlement provisions of the 1982 Convention are found in the text of the Convention itself, rather than in an optional protocol. Part XV of the 1982 Convention establishes the dispute settlement system with respect to the interpretation and application of its provisions. When a dispute arises, the parties are to expeditiously to an exchange of views regarding its settlement by negotiation or other peaceful means. The parties may resort, if they wish, to conciliation procedures under article 284, in which case a conciliation commission will be established, whose report will be non-binding. Where no settlement is reached, recourse may be had to other procedures. Upon signing, ratifying or acceding to the convention, or at any time thereafter, a state may choose one of the following means of dispute settlement: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; the International Court of Justice (ICJ); an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII of the 1982 Convention; or a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII of the 1982 Convention for one or more of the categories disputes specified therein. By providing a variety of options, the 1982 Convention encourages the peaceful settlement of disputes under law. We should celebrate the increased number of forums for third-party dispute settlement found in the 1982 Convention and other international agreements, because it means that international third-party settlement procedures, especially adjudication and arbitration, are becoming more acceptable. This development will promote the evolution of public international law and its broader acceptance by the public as a true system of law. The new forums created by the 1982 Convention may benefit both general international law and the law of the sea, and also promote the peaceful settlement of international dispute.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: Dispute settlement, law, sea
JEL Classification: K3, K33, K4, K41
Date posted: June 30, 2004