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Continental Shelf Submissions: The Record to Date

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

This paper reflects the situation at the end of 2005. At that time, four coastal States had completed their continental shelf submissions for transmittal to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS): Russia (2001), Brazil (2004), Australia (2004), and Ireland (2005).

Of those four submissions, only Russia's has been subjected to a full review by the CLCS, which issued outer limit recommendations in 2002. Russia has responded to those recommendations by initiating a new round of field work in the Arctic, to obtain additional data that is intended to offset CLCS concerns. The Brazilian and Australian submissions are currently undergoing review by subcommissions of the CLCS, while the establishment of a subcommission to examine the Irish submission is imminent. The task of each subcommission is to prepare draft recommendations for review by the Commission at large.

In general, the detailed contents of continental shelf submissions are not made public, nor are the deliberations of the CLCS concerning those submissions. In certain cases some of that information can be gleaned through unofficial channels, but for the most part interested parties must refer to the website of the UN's Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), which posts material of a more limited nature. Information derived largely from that official source will be used in this paper to outline what is known about the four submissions above.

This exposition will be followed by brief reviews of: (a) the memberships of the first two Commissions and the four subcommissions; (b) the ability of Commission members to render advisory services to submitting States; and (c) the benefits to be gained by a submitting State when it sponsors a member of the Commission.


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