CASE CONCERNING THE CONTINENTAL SHELF

LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRAYA / MALTA
Vanessa J. Gumban Public International Law

Facts Parties: † Libya † Malta Dispute on the delimitation of their respective continental shelf areas † Rules and principles † Actual delimitation .

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Summary of Arguments LIBYA Applicable source of law Basis of title Customary International Law MALTA Customary International Law Principle of Natural Prolongation ‡ Natural prolongation in the physical sense ‡ Rift-zone argument ‡ The continental shelf not absorbed by concept of exclusive economic zone Distance Principle ‡ Natural prolongation is a spatial concept ‡ Concept of exclusive economic zone confirms the primacy of the equidistance method ‡ Distance criterion: physical factors are irrelevant within 200 miles from coast ‡ Distance principle confers primacy on the equidistance method ‡ Equidistance method is not obligatory Delimitation Equitable principles Reasonable degree of proportionality (length of coast line vis-à-vis continental shelf area) Equitable principles .

Applicable Source of Law Customary international law † Actual practice of states † Opinio juris † Multilateral conventions  1982    UNCLOS Not yet in force but both Libya and Malta are parties Adopted by overwhelming majority May constitute an expression of customary international law .

the exclusive economic zone is a relevant circumstance in delimiting continental shelf areas. † They are complementary and are both essential elements of the juridical concept of the continental shelf.Basis of Title Continental shelf and exclusive economic zone are linked together in modern law. However. Institution of the exclusive economic zone. natural prolongation is defined by distance. by state practice. irrespective of the physical nature of the sea-bed and subsoil. . distance criterion in concept of exclusive economic zone applies to continental shelf  Within 200 miles from shore. is part of customary international law. † Thus. † Hence. the idea of natural prolongation is not superseded by that of distance.

Basis of Title Libya·s rift-zone argument † REJECTED of coasts between parties less than 400 miles † Distance criterion applies † Natural prolongation in the physical sense irrelevant † Distance .

Basis of Title Malta·s argument on the primacy of equidistance method † REJECTED † Equidistance  method is not obligaory No state practice † Equitable principles may require other methods .

the equidistance method would be conferred a compulsory status Adjust to achieve equitable result † Malta is a small-feature on a semi-enclosed sea † Disparity in length of coasts (Libya·s 192 miles vis-a-vis Malta·s 24 miles) justifies attribution of larger shelf to Libya .Delimitation Provisional median line † Continental shelf area between opposite coasts can only be delimited by a median line (North Sea) † Provisional because if it were final.

Provisional Median Line Back .

Adjusted Line Provisional Median Line Back .

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