Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 12 Eritrea v. Yemen (Award of the Arbitral Tribunal in the Second Stage of the Proceedings, Phase II: Maritime Delimitation, 17 December 1999)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Islands and artificial islands — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
This chapter concerns a case over a combined island sovereignty and maritime boundary dispute in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Yemen. The sovereignty dispute principally concerned the Mohabbakah Islands, the Haycock Islands, the Zuqar-Hanish Islands, the island of Jabal al-Tayr, and the Zubayr island group. The dispute dates back to the decline of the Ottoman Empire leading up to the First World War and colonial activities in the region by Italy and Great Britain during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Phase II Award in the case confirms the generally accepted view in modern international law and State practice that the median or equidistance line provides an appropriate starting point for any maritime boundary delimitation between opposite coasts. Only in the most exceptional of circumstances will international law reject such an equidistance-based approach as a starting point in opposite coast delimitation.