Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 8 Libya v. Malta (Judgment of the International Court of Justice, 3 June 1985)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
This chapter presents the case concerned with the delimitation of the continental shelf boundary between the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Republic of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. In this case, Libya presented an argument for delimitation based on natural prolongation. The chapter outlines the various arguments put forward by both sides, and makes a number of interesting conclusions about the significance of this case. The Libya v. Malta Continental Shelf case was the first time the court had been requested to delimit a continental shelf boundary (or, indeed, any maritime boundary) between opposite coasts. It did so at a defining moment in the evolution of the international law of maritime delimitation, just a few years after the signature of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The judgment also marked an important development toward the establishment of equidistance as a first step in the maritime delimitation process.