Continental shelf beyond 200 miles: determination of the outer limitsand delimitation (Part 2)

Available in Russian

Authors: Kolodkin Roman, Sergey Punzhin

Keywords: admissibility; Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf; delimitation of the extended continental shelf; extended continental shelf; international court or arbitral tribunal; jurisdiction; the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea


The rights of a coastal State over the continental shelf exist ipso facto and ab initio, by virtue of its sovereignty over the land territory to which it is adjacent. The existence of the continental shelf of a coastal State up to a distance of 200 nautical miles does not require any proof, however, the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles are established exclusively through the procedure provided for in Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This Article stipulates that recommendations of the Commission are a mandatory precondition which must be complied with for these limits to be legally valid. Both the State practice and the case law of international dispute resolution bodies examined in the present article demonstrate that the delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles by an international court or arbitral tribunal is possible only if this delimitation does not prejudice the Commission’s functions nor ignore its role in the determination of the outer limits of such a continental shelf.

About the authors: Roman A. Kolodkin – Candidate of Sciences (PhD) in Law, Member of the International Law Commission; Sergey M. Punzhin – Candidate of Sciences (PhD) in Law, Legal Officer in the Registry, the International Court of Justice.