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Objectivity versus Subjectivity in the Context of the ICJ’s Three-stage Methodology of Maritime Boundary Delimitation

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) moving away from the application of equitable principles in favour of its three-stage delimitation methodology, maritime boundary delimitations are now described as objective and predictable. This article assesses the accuracy of this description by examining the decisions of the Court and Tribunals in some recent delimitation cases. It is argued that the delimitation of maritime boundaries cannot still be regarded as objective and predictable as exemplified in the decisions discussed. Each of the three stages in the three-stage methodology, namely the drawing of a provisional equidistance line, the adjustment or shifting of that line based on the presence of relevant circumstances and the (dis)proportionality test will be analysed in order to support this position. This article identifies a fixation with following the three-stage methodology (even when inappropriate) as, ironically, the driver for subjectivity and unpredictability in maritime boundary delimitation decisions.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Greenwich LondonUnited Kingdom


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