Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 2 Argentina v. Chile (Award of the Arbitral Tribunal, 18 February 1977)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) — Boundaries
This chapter first outlines the history of the Argentina/Chile case, and explains the importance of the Beagle Channel. The dispute concerned the question of sovereignty over the regions Picton, Nueva, and Lennox, together with a number of islets and other small features on the eastern side of the Channel, and the location of the corresponding maritime boundary between the parties in the case. The chapter explains the parties’ positions and presents a summary of the decision. It ends with an analysis on the significance of the decision in this case and its contribution to international law. The decision is significant in the context of territorial sea delimitation, it argues. The chapter analyzes the ‘principle of appurtenance’ as it applies in the territorial sea (which is closely related to the tenet that ‘the land dominates the sea’, articulated by the ICJ in the North Sea Continental Shelf cases). The case provides a leading example of the variance of a geometric equidistance or median line in order to accommodate navigational interests in the territorial sea.