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Volume 5

July 2009

Number 2


Abroad Thoughts from Home



with Ian Townsend-Gault
Director of the Centre for Asian Legal Studies
Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada


Extending the "Baguette"
France plays Leap-Frog on behalf of St.Pierre et Miquelon

Clive Schofield and Ian Townsend-Gault

Introduction

Wednesday 13 May 2009 was something of a red-letter day in the law of the sea and international law more generally. That was the deadline for many coastal States to make submissions regarding areas of continental shelf located seaward of 200 nautical miles from their baselines along their coasts. Such areas of continental shelf located beyond the 200 nautical mile limit are generally termed the 'outer' or 'extended' continental shelf. According to some of the more excitable (read: far-fetched and misleading) media coverage, the world has just witnessed the largest "land grab" in history. But how can one have a land grab without the land?

Much as students treat deadlines for essays (or Professors deal with due dates for academic articles), many States left it late. Amid the flurry of submissions related to outer continental shelf areas that the May deadline stimulated was a submission on the part of France which is intriguing in its own right because of its novel character, but is also of particular interest to Canada since Canada's sovereign rights offshore appear to be challenged.

It is fair to observe that international lawyers and other students of the law of the sea drawn from different disciplines, such as geography, usually welcome innovative approaches to this complex subject. It reminds them that there is sometimes something new under the sun after all. Clearly, on occasion, States have the capacity to surprise us and unveil fresh and challenging new approaches and interpretations to the various aspects of the international law of the sea. France has sprung just such a surprise in respect of its assertions to the United Nations, albeit in preliminary form, that part of the continental shelf of the northwest Atlantic lying beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast represents part of the French continental shelf by virtue of the presence of a group of islands, referred to collectively as St. Pierre and Miquelon after the group's two main islands, under French sovereignty and located to the south of the island of Newfoundland.1

International law certainly permits coastal States to exercise resource jurisdiction over submarine areas beyond 200 nautical miles where the area in question can be shown to be part of the continental shelf or margin of the coastal State: it's natural prolongation, in other words. The nub of the problem here is that while St. Pierre and Miquelon do generate claims to maritime jurisdiction on behalf of France, notably a 12 nautical mile breadth territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) out to 200 nautical miles, these maritime zones are entirely surrounded or enclaved within the analogous Canadian zones of maritime jurisdiction. The areas of outer continental shelf that France has expressed an interest in as part of the natural prolongation of St. Pierre and Miquelon are therefore seaward of the Canadian rather than French 200 nautical mile EEZ limit. In essence France appears to want to "leap-frog" over parts of Canada's 200 nautical mile EEZ/continental shelf jurisdiction, claiming sovereign rights for the purposes of exploration for exploitation of the seabed resources and subsoil lying seaward, to the extent permitted by international law.

This is the jurisdictional "surprise" referred to above. Such an assertion would appear to run counter to all the accepted norms of the Law of the Sea and the policies that lie behind them. No country has propounded a claim such as this before. This article traces the development of the concept and regime of the continental shelf before outlining some of the intricacies and complexities of the rules relating to establishing the limits to outer continental shelf rights. The role of the specialized United Nations Commission charged with dealing with outer continental shelf issues, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) is then explored, together with its submission requirements and issues related to the deadline. The article then turns to the Canada - France scenario and examines how and why the present maritime jurisdictional picture in this part of the northwest Atlantic arose. The basis for France's assertions on behalf of St. Pierre and Miquelon are then explored and analysed, coupled with some concluding thoughts on how Canada and the international community, more generally, ought to respond.

What is the Continental Shelf?

Geo-scientists have long recognized the distinction between continental and oceanic crusts, with the former being considerably lighter and thicker than the latter. Continental crusts rise above present sea levels to form terrestrial land masses. Large areas of continental crust are, however, presently submerged, though they have, over the millennia, regularly been exposed during successive ice-ages and consequent sharp drops in sea level. That part of the continental crust that lies below sea level is generally referred to as the continental shelf. The continental shelf may be narrow, for instance where a deep trench system exists offshore, or broad. At the edge of the continental shelf a relatively steep continental slope frequently falls away until more gently sloping continental rise which leads down to the deep ocean floor. Collectively, the continental shelf, slope and rise are referred to as the continental margin.

With regard to the legal definition of the continental shelf, it is important to note that the concept and legal regime related to the continental shelf substantially pre-dates that of, for example, the EEZ. A key catalyst in the development and recognition of the continental shelf in international law was the so-called Truman Proclamation of 1945 whereby the United States claimed rights over seabed areas seaward of its then three-nautical-mile territorial sea limit. This sparked a flurry of extensive maritime claims, many of which went well beyond the rights that the United States had asserted. In due course coastal state rights over the continental shelf were enshrined in the Convention on the Continental Shelf of 1958, signed in Geneva. Subsequently, in 1969, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), through its judgment in the North Sea continental shelf cases, stated that coastal states have inherent rights over that part of the continental shelf that constitutes "a natural prolongation of its land territory." The provisions contained in the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf were reviewed and significantly altered during the course of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which ultimately yielded the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC).

Determining the Limits of the Continental Shelf

According to the relevant 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf (Article 1), the continental shelf was defined as the seabed and subsoil of submarine areas located adjacent to the coast but seaward of the territorial sea. In terms of the extent of the continental shelf, the 1958 Convention offered two alternatives: to a depth of 200 meters, "or to a depth beyond that limit where exploitation of resources was possible." The latter option was clearly open-ended, being entirely dependent on advances in offshore exploration technology. Indeed, taken to its logical conclusion, this would have seen the entirety of the seabed of the world's oceans being divided up among coastal States as their capacity to exploit resources advanced further and further offshore.

These provisions were reviewed and refined during UNCLOS III and the result was Article 76 of LOSC. Article 76 states that the continental shelf of a coastal state consists of "the seabed and subsoil of submarine areas", extending to either a distance of 200 nautical miles from relevant baselines or "throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin." Every coastal State therefore possesses continental shelf rights out to the 200 nautical mile limit unless the entitlements of other States intervenes - something that often results in overlapping claims and States being hemmed in or "shelf-locked". The latter part of the definition was, however, included in Article 76 in order to take into account the interests of a group of States located on broad continental margins - the so-called "margineers". Thus, for some States, the outer edge of the relevant continental margin, and thus their natural prolongation, may be located well beyond the 200 nautical mile limit.

Article 76 of LOSC goes on to provide a complex series of provisions according to which a coastal State can establish, largely on the basis of geological and geomorphologic evidence, the location of the outer limits of its extended continental shelf located beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. Essentially, Article 76 provides that coastal States should first prove that continental shelf forming part of its natural prolongation exists seaward of 200 nautical miles. This is achieved through the application of either of two entitlement formulas - one based on the thickness or depth of the sedimentary rocks overlying the continental crust and the other a distance formula consisting of a line 60 nautical miles distant from the foot of the continental slope.

Once it has been established that the continental shelf does indeed extend beyond the 200 nautical mile limit, two maximum constraints (or "cut-off" lines) on the coastal state's outer continental shelf limits are applied. One of these cut-off lines is based on distance - 350 nautical miles from the coastal state's relevant baselines. The other is based on depth and distance - the 2,500-metre isobath plus 100 nautical miles. Once again, the coastal State can apply whichever formula is most advantageous to it.

Determining the outer limits of the continental shelf therefore undoubtedly represents a complex and challenging process as well as an extremely expensive one. It requires the gathering of detailed geoscientific information in terms of the geology (composition) and morphology (shape) of the continental margins in question, as well as bathymetric (depth) data. Additionally, geodetically robust (that is, accurate) distance measurements from the relevant coastal State's coastal baselines are also required. Formulating a submission in accordance with Article 76 of the Convention therefore not only requires close collaboration between diverse scientific disciplines (geology, hydrography, geodesy) but also necessitates the close involvement of legal experts and policy makers - a daunting challenge.

The Role of the Commission: A Technical Body Adrift amid Legal and Political Storms

In accordance with the terms of Article 76 of LOSC, those States wishing to confirm their sovereign rights over outer continental shelf areas are required to make a submission to a specialized United Nations body, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The Commission is a body consisting of 21 scientists. Importantly, the Commission is not a legal body and it does not therefore adjudicate on submissions. Instead, the CLCS plays, or was intended to play, a technical role, evaluating whether coastal States through their submissions have fulfilled the requirements of Article 76. On the basis of this assessment the CLCS makes "recommendations" to the coastal State on the basis of which the coastal State can establish limits that are "final and binding".

The original deadline for submissions from interested States to reach the Commission was 16 November 2004, 10 years after the entry into force of LOSC. However, the Commission itself was only established in 1997, three years after the entry into force of the Convention. Furthermore, the Commission only adopted its Scientific and Technical Guidelines, on the basis of which coastal State submissions are made, in 1999. In light of these factors, coupled with the complexity of the provisions of Article 76 and the human and financial costs involved in gathering the scientific information required, submissions were slow in materialising.

Consequently in 2001 the deadline was pushed back with the date of the adoption of the Commission's Scientific and Technical Guidelines, 13 May 1999, being taken as the starting gun for the 10 year 'clock', thereby creating the recently passed 13 May 2009 deadline. However, as this deadline approached, it became clear that many potentially eligible coastal States would struggle to mount full submissions. In response, a meeting of the State Parties to the Convention decided in June 2008 to substantially relax submission requirements, though not the deadline. As a result States have had the option of submitting preliminary information rather than a full submission. It is this option that France has taken on behalf of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

As noted, the deadline stimulated a frenzy of activity with States either making full submissions or, alternatively, providing the relevant United Nations Commission with preliminary information on their intent to file a full and formal submission. In May 2008, a year prior to the deadline there were a mere 11 submissions lodged with the Commission. Shortly after the 13 May 2009 deadline passed that figure stood at 51 submissions (some of which are either joint or partial in nature), together with 41 submissions of preliminary information, altogether involving 72 coastal States.

The process is therefore by no means over. Not only has the Commission now got a substantial backlog of submissions to deal with (and based on past experience each submission takes around two years to deal with), but many States have made only partial submissions meaning they could make further submissions in relation to other parts of their continental margin beyond 200 nautical miles from their baselines. This backlog of submissions will be further added to as the preliminary indications made by states gradually transform into full submissions. Furthermore, those States that were not parties to LOSC before 13 May 1999 when the Commission's Scientific and Technical Guidelines were adopted, have the full ten-year timeframe to prepare their submissions. Thus, for example, Canada, having become a party to the Convention on 7 November 2003, has until 7 November 2013 to make a submission. Finally, non-parties to the Convention, most (in)famously the United States, have no requirement or deadline for a submission to the CLCS.


In This Issue

A Fading Forest: Continual Oil Sands Expansion and the Gateway Pipeline
Dustin Twin

Cree native Dustin Twin comments on the tar sands oil projects currently operating in Alberta, Canada.

Re-evaluating Aristotle's Problems
Steve Wexler

Law professor Steve Wexler analyzes Aristotle's diverse collection of thoughts in Problems.

Japan at a Crossroads
Brent Sutherland

Vancouver based freelance writer, and erstwhile resident of Japan for more than ten years, Brent Sutherland writes on the upcoming Japanese election pitting the DPJ against the LDP.

Literary Voices
C.H. Allen Clark & Stephanie Kjaerbaek

Literary selections from an international cast of writers.

The Election Crisis and Sovereign Power in Iran
C.G. Bateman

Editorial comment on the 2009 election crisis in Iran.

IZ's Commitment to Somalia
Aweis Issa

Somali citizen Aweis Issa writes about the situation on the ground in Somalia.




The Maritime Jurisdictional Puzzle in the Northwest Atlantic: How Did We Get To Where We Are Today?

In 1992, a specially composed Court of Arbitration handed down a decision regarding the maritime boundary between Canada and the French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which lie off the southern coast of the island of Newfoundland. Any satisfaction that lawyers working for the government of Canada may have felt that yet another piece of the offshore jurisdictional puzzle was falling into place might well have been dashed by the result, despite the fact that it was undoubtedly more favourable to their country than its opponent. Despite - apparently - the utmost care being taken by officials in the Pearson Building in Ottawa and the Quay d'Orsay in Paris in the matter of picking judges who might be relied on to render the most balanced judgment, firmly in accord with established principles of international law and state practice relating to maritime boundaries - the end result was all but incomprehensible.

Canada's position followed closely that of France itself in the arbitration between that country and the United Kingdom regarding the maritime zone around the Channel Islands, territories under the British crown which lie not far from the French coast in the Gulf of Normandy. The British position was that the Channel Islands, home to a population of around 150,000, should be granted full effect on the construction of an equidistance line boundary and that therefore the median line in the Strait of Dover should proceed in a southwesterly direction, and then plunge due south to encompass the Channel Islands, before proceeding northwest to join the median line between the mainland coasts of the two countries. France's contention was that this was wholly inequitable, and including the Channel islands in this way would be to give them an importance they did not deserve, and was not justified by any known rule of law, or state practice. The fairest result would be to "enclave" the islands. The Court of Arbitration largely agreed with France on this issue, determining that "...the Channel Islands are not only 'on the wrong side' of the mid-Channel median line but wholly detached geographically from the United Kingdom." Consequently, the Court defined continental shelf boundaries for the Channel Islands consistent with 12 nautical mile arcs and thanks to subsequent agreements the Channel Islands have been wholly enclaved on the French side of the median line between the opposite French and British mainland coasts on the Channel.2 The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office might have been disappointed at this result, but it cannot have been wholly surprised.

A decade or so later, it was now France's turn to assert that its remaining northwest Atlantic territories were land like any other, and should be treated as such, their size notwithstanding. Accordingly, where they face the open Atlantic, St. Pierre and Miquelon would generate to a full 200 nautical mile zone. Canada pointed to the inequities of this argument, citing international precedent including, it need hardly been said, the Channel Islands Arbitration itself. The Canada-France arbitration might well have thought that it was doing well by both sides in using aspects of the enclave argument on the one hand, but making a gesture in favour 200 nautical miles on the other (the "baguette"), by producing a boundary which is reproduced in the sketch map below (and if ever the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words has application, it is here).


The authors are especially grateful to Andi Arsana for drawing the map.

The Court had a number of ingenious explanations as to why it was taking this course. It recognized that the French islands were a département of France, but also that they were a long way from the mainland of France itself. Their economic situation was more precarious than that of, say, the Channel Islands. But it quite clearly held that it could not be otherwise than swayed by the fact that St. Pierre Miquelon are small areas of land, heavily dominated by the Canadian land masses represented by Newfoundland to the north and Nova Scotia to the southwest, supporting a relatively small population. International law and practice had developed somewhat since the 1977 Arbitration, and it was clearly impossible to treat these possessions as if they were part of, or lying just offshore, the mainland of France. Consequently, St. Pierre and Miquelon were enclaved, just as the Channel Islands had been before them, wholly within another States EEZ/continental shelf. The critical difference was that the Court of Arbitration granted to France a 200 nautical mile long and 10.5 nautical mile wide strip of maritime jurisdiction. As noted, if this remarkable spatial distribution of maritime space was intended to provide St. Pierre and Miquelon with a corridor to the high seas it failed to do so quite spectacularly. The whole of St. Pierre and Miquelon's bizarrely-shaped maritime jurisdiction, which has been likened to a keyhole, a mushroom cloud, or, with regard to the long strip of maritime jurisdiction, a baguette, is enclosed within the Canadian EEZ.

After the decision was handed down, some of us who could hardly be classified as experts in the practice of ocean resource exploration and production of any kind wondered precisely how those concerned were going to live with it. For the oil industry, the difficulties were relatively few. The decision appeared to indicate the areas in which France could grant licenses for petroleum activities, and those appertaining to Canada. If a field was found to cross the boundary in such a way that it could be exported, international law and practice had evolved the means for ensuring that the correlative rights of all the interest holders, both national and private, could be preserved, while at the same time ensuring that the deposit would be dealt with in the most economically and technically feasible manner. The decision posed a challenge, but the means were at hand to meet it.

But the situation was very different as regards the fishing industry and the management and conservation of living resources. This is a reference not so much to the "baguette" itself, as the fact that marine areas lying outside it within 200 nautical miles were presumptively closed to fishers from the islands. The point was that exercising their rights within the baguette would risk trespassing on Canada's 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone (as it now is), particularly given the Northwest Atlantic's heavy weather. It would call for extra care and attention in being sure of a vessel's position vis-à-vis the jurisdictional limits at virtually all times. And, it perhaps goes without saying, there were those of us that suspected the members of the court of arbitration had paid no attention to these practical matters whatsoever in considering their decision. Nor, one suspects, would the lawyers on either side have been overly concerned. Their job was to fight a court case, and this had been done. So far as they were concerned, the file was closed. If others were now obliged to pick up the pieces and deal with the new reality, that was their affair. Subsequent to the Court's decision, Canada and France have concluded a fisheries accord and an announced (though not public) hydrocarbons accord in order to address these practical marine resource management issues.

One slice or two? A Discontinuous outer continental shelf

The first point to make is that with its submission of preliminary information and, in due course, its full submission for this area, France is not seeking to reopen the boundary case - at least, not overtly. Both countries agreed to abide by the decision of the arbitration in advance. It is, of course, open to the two countries to set the decision aside and either use it as a basis for negotiation, or ignore it all together, but they did not elect to do this. Ergo, the decision stands. This is more than a presumption. The prior agreement to accept the ruling was specifically intended to introduce a degree of certainty into the proceedings. It would scarcely be an incentive to engage in costly litigation had there been the slightest thought that one side or the other might not agree to abide by the result they didn't like. The current French position, insofar as we have it, is very different. It is now accepted that all coastal states have more or less absolute rights to exploit the living and non-living resources of the sea, seabed and subsoil of their territorial waters.

Beyond the 12-mile limit, the rights are somewhat less, but sufficient for complete coastal state control over living and non-living resource activities. The issue of 12 nautical miles from precisely what point of departure is often overlooked, but it should not be here: because Canada uses Sable Island, a sandbar to the east of the province of Nova Scotia, as a base point for measurement and its 200 nautical mile limit encircles the seaward extent of the baguette. This has no implications for issues such as freedom of navigation, but most certainly does for living resource exploration and management. For one thing, it means that the baguette is not a ten and a half nautical mile wide "conduit" or passageway to the high seas but an oddly-shaped French maritime enclave wholly surrounded by Canada's EEZ.

An incroyable claim?

To understand the French position, it is necessary to recall the rules of the Law of the Sea Convention pertaining to countries that have a "natural" continental shelf or continental margin extending beyond 200 nautical miles. It is apparent from the wording of the Convention that the state presumed to be in a position to make a claim to jurisdiction beyond 200 nautical miles would be the same country that exercises jurisdiction on the landward side of that limit. In other words, beginning on shore, and proceeding through internal waters (if any), the territorial sea and the continental shelf to the 200 nautical mile limit, and then possibly beyond, was to be an exercise of jurisdiction by one sovereign entity only. This interpretation of the Convention is borne out by the fact that no country in any other part of the world is considering laying a claim similar to that made by France. It will be difficult to see support in law or logic for such a move. This is not to say it is illogical to seek jurisdiction over any resources that might be available if there is a jurisdictional uncertainty, but it appears that no such uncertainly exists here.

The task of the Commission is to match the evidence presented by the claimant that the state concerned has met the requirements of Article 76 of the Convention, and that the continental shelf or margin does indeed extend beyond that limit. The task of the Commission is therefore one of scientific evaluation, and nothing more. Under no circumstances will it, or indeed may it, adjudicate between rival claims to jurisdiction. Indeed, the most likely scenario, if France was to submit a formal claim to "outer" continental shelf jurisdiction along the lines discussed here, is that Canada would deposit an instantaneous and unambiguous objection to the Commission being seized of the matter on the grounds that the area in question falls outside the jurisdiction of France. Equally, in due course Canada will in all probability itself make a submission seaward of its 200 nautical mile limit. This, in turn, will, in all likelihood, prompt an immediate protest from France. Consistent with its mandate the Commission is highly likely to refuse to consider that part of either State's submission which is subject to overlapping claims to jurisdiction. It does not take too much imagination to imagine how other countries could use an essentially spurious submission as a weapon against a neighbour.

Of Bread...and Oil?

While we are not aware of any official pronouncements on this matter, one solution that has been put forward by a resident of the islands (in the course of an interview with CBC radio) was some form of sharing arrangement. It is not hard to distinguish the underlying motives in this context. It should be recalled that the islanders are interested in promoting mineral development in order to alleviate their somewhat desperate economic plight, and one can only sympathize with the situation in which they find themselves. A community whose raison d'Ítre was fishing is being starved of fish: what, then, will sustain it?

The idea that resources which are potentially in dispute should be shared is not, of course, new. There are many examples of zones of cooperation where countries have agreed to joint development of an area with respect to petroleum resources, or fisheries, or environmental management, or some combination of these and other activities. Zones of cooperation are a potential solution to a deadlocked jurisdictional puzzle, and indeed resort to such arrangements is urged, albeit somewhat indirectly, by the Law of the Sea Convention itself. The articles relating to the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone on continental shelves calls for the states concerned to enter into "provisional measures of a practical nature" pending the resolution of their dispute. The many zones of cooperation that have been established by states are both provisional, in that they are not permanent arrangements, and (for the most part anyway) practical in nature.

But a zone of cooperation can also be a weapon. Once the idea is accepted that countries might be inclined to consider the joint development of an area merely because it is subject to claim by a neighbouring state suggests that it is in the advantage of all concerned to maximize their clams as much as possible, whether these positions are justified by rules of international law or not. A claim by France to exercise jurisdiction beyond the 200 nautical mile limit offshore of the "baguette" and, more to the point, beyond the 200 nautical mile limit of Canada, would be unique in international practice to date. There are examples of zones of cooperation established where the application of rules of international law has led to the development of incompatible, but - at least to some extent - justifiable, jurisdictional claims. Some of the blame for this must be laid at the door of the International Court of Justice, as it developed notions on factors to be taken into account when effecting a delimitation in one case, only to ignore them (but seldom absolutely reject them) in the next.

Perhaps the best illustration of this is one of the early zones of cooperation, the offshore petroleum joint development arrangement agreed to by Japan and South Korea in 1976. Korea's claim to the south of the peninsula includes a sizable area which is undoubtedly closer to Japan than to it. Viewed on a simple sketch map, the claim appears to be grossly exaggerated. But when the geomorphology of the seabed is considered, it is seen that South Korea's claim includes what certainly appears to be the natural prolongation of its land mass. Japan, on the other hand, maintained that the median line - equidistant from the coasts of the two states, ignoring the configuration of the seabed - was the applicable principle. Since neither side would give way, joint development and equal sharing of resources was agreed on. The joint development zone is comprised by the Japanese-claimed median line and the natural prolongation of the Korean shelf. Natural prolongation has fallen out of favour, on the whole, but its existence in the vocabulary of international maritime boundary limitation law was of sufficient duration for it to have wreaked a certain amount of damage, as various countries can readily attest.

Prospects: Let them eat...'Baguette?'

One thing is crystal clear: the Commission will not resolve this particular jurisdictional headache. As the Commission is a scientific rather than legal body, it lacks the mandate to consider areas subject to a sovereignty dispute or subject to overlapping maritime claims. Furthermore, the Commission's recommendations are specifically without prejudice to the delimitation of maritime boundaries. Ultimately, therefore, it remains up to Canada and France to address and resolve any overlapping maritime claims and disputes - the Commission simply will not consider the matter.

The government of Canada is of course free to enter into joint development or any other form of cooperative arrangement if it wishes. But it is surely undesirable from the point of view of international law and policy that countries consider themselves to be over a barrel, as it were, in that they are faced with two unpalatable options: agree to cooperate, or face a very long stand-off resulting from a neighbouring state laying a questionable claim to extended continental shelf jurisdiction, as described above. Arguably, this scenario was not foreseen by the Law of the Sea Convention. However, it is suggested that the intent of the relevant provisions of the agreement are clear: jurisdiction was seen as a continuum from land territory to the furthest seaward region of maritime jurisdiction determined according to the rules of international law. The leap-frogging outer continental shelf assertion envisaged by France on behalf of St. Pierre Miquelon is at variance with what appears to be an unambiguously established principle.

As we said, it is not difficult to appreciate the sentiments of the islanders with respect to the prospect of a share in offshore resource development. But international laws in practice are precisely that - international. It does not seem helpful to establish an international precedent which would allow one country to be in a position to exact jurisdictional concessions from a neighbour, nor indeed to subvert the clearly enunciated rules and principles relating to means whereby maritime jurisdiction beyond the limits of the territorial sea is generated. Natural resource jurisdictional matters are sufficiently fraught topics in the field of international relations: nothing is to be gained by making the situation worse.

Notes:

1. Le plateau continental Français, Informations préliminaires indicatives sur les limites extérieures du plateau continental, conformément a la décision figurant dans le document SPLOS/183 de la Dix-huitième Réunion des Etat parties de la Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, available at, http://www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/commission_preliminary.htm
2. The Court of Arbitration only had jurisdiction to rule on delimitation of the continental shelf. As the Channel Islands are to the west, south and east within 24 nautical miles of the French mainland coast, further bilaterally negotiated boundaries were required, notably in 1992 and 2000 in order to complete the enclaving of the islands.




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