Cooperation (obligation regarding)

25 October 2012 | Article



The UNCLOS contains numerous provisions dealing with the obligation which is incumbent on States regarding cooperation, whether it relates to protection of the environment [1] or management of halieutic resources [2]. The legal scope of these obligations, ie. their effectiveness, must however be viewed in the context of the waters concerned (territorial sea, EEZ or high sea), and as per the specific rulings of international law and the sovereign rights of the States concerned.

In fact, in the absence of a superior authority empowered to give a precise interpretation of this obligation, and in the absence pre-established mechanisms for sanctions in the event of non-compliance with the obligation, it is up to each State to interpret the obligation regarding cooperation and to determine its extent. As the law stands today, the failure of negotiations between several States aimed at setting up measures to protect the environment or preserve resources cannot therefore be sanctioned, and no State can be considered as being at fault or responsible for such failure. More participation on the part of international jurisdictions recognized by the States concerned could improve the effectiveness of this obligation regarding cooperation.

It should also be noted that the reinforced nature of the obligation regarding cooperation emphasized in article 123 of the UNCLOS concerning closed and semi-enclosed seas does nothing to change the relative effectiveness of the obligation regarding cooperation. Nevertheless, the insistent confirmation of this obligation, which was already addressed in other provisions of the Convention, offers international recognition of, and substantial diplomatic support for, the necessary establishment and functioning of cooperation mechanisms in the Mediterranean.

[1] UNCLOS, article 197.
[2] UNCLOS, article 63 and 118.

Mediterranean landscape