The Caspian Sea: Current Legal Problems

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The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
Sergei Vinogradov" and Patricia
Problems
Wouters""
1. Introduction
September 20, 1994 Azerbaijan, one of the former constituent republics of the Soviet Union, signed an $ 8 billion contract with an international consortium headed by "British Petroleum"' for the exploitation
of certain oil fields in a part of the Caspian Sea claimed by Azerbaijan2.
This agreement provoked a strong reaction on the part of Russia, which
denounced it as a unilateral attempt to change the legal status of the Caspian Sea and to achieve certain advantages at the expense of other coastal
States. The Azerbaijan oil deal added new fuel to already existing tension
between littoral States which at present have quite divergent views on
On
how
to use
the Sea and its
resources.
Dr. of Law
LL.M.
(Moscow State University); Guest Research Fellow at the Institute.
(University of California, Berkeley), Ph. D. Candidate (IUHEI, Geneva);
Guest Research Fellow
at
the Institute.
1
The
2
Some of these oil fields
thirty-year long project is expected to produce more than 500 million tons of oil
and 55 billion cubic meters of petroleum gas. The consortium includes also the Azerbaijan
State petroleum company, a number of American and other foreign corporations, and a
Russian company "LUKoil". See: Izvestia, 21 September 1994; and "Oil Concerns Set $ 8
Billion Accord with Azerbaijan", International Herald Tribune, 21 September 1994, at 1
and 6. In order to secure Iranian support of the deal Azerbaijan has offered a 5 percent
share to Iran. However, the United States vigorously resisted its participation in the project and threatened to persuade American companies to leave the consortium if this happens. See: Izvestia, 26 January 1995. Eventually, Azerbaijan was compelled to exclude Iran
from the consortium and to yield its share to Turkey, provoking strong Iranian opposition
to the project. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran stated recently, "until the status
of the Caspian Sea is defined, no State has a right to unilaterally exploit its resources". See:
Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 26 April 1995.
are
located
more
than 100 kilometers from the
coast
of Azer-
baijan.
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© 1995, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht
The
The
and
in
the world with
ous,
605
Problems
unique in many respects: environmental, economic,
largest completely enclosed body of salt water
particularly fragile ecosystem, which has already suf-
a
damage
from land-based
level
sea
Legal
It is the
fered considerable
the
Sea: Current
Sea is
Caspian
geopolitical.
pollution
Caspian
over
due
to
sources.
extensive oil
A
constant
the last several years poses
environmental
producing activities and
significant increase in
and
an
additional, and
very seri-
problem.
oil and gas deposits contained in the Caspian Sea subsoil
constitute a major, but not the only, reason for increased interest in the
region. The Sea contains valuable fishery resources, including 90% of the
world's stock of sturgeon. It also provides important transportation
The
enormous
routes, connecting
the European part of Russia, Transcaucasia and Cen-
tral Asia.
Finally,
the demise of the former Soviet Union
dramatically changed
situation in the region. Instead of two there are
now five riparian States
Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and
of the richest natural resource areas of the
Turkmenistan
one
sharing
the
entire
geopolitical
-
-
world. In the past the USSR and Iran managed to avoid serious controversies while dealing with their common problems regarding the Casemergence of
has turned the Caspian Sea into
pian
Sea. The
recent
a
number of
a
region of
newly independent States
conflicting political and
economic interests and influences.
The present
legal regime of the Caspian Sea, which
is based
on
the
Soviet-Iranian agreements concluded more than 50 years ago, is no longer
sufficient to deal with the host of complex political, economic and en-
vironmental
there
problems
which exist in the
urgent need to create
which would settle decisively the
or
is
an
should be the
legal
status
of
area.
In
light
of this situation
regime for the
legal
Caspian Sea
following important questions: What is
the Caspian Sea from the point of view of
international law? Which States
a new
what extent, to use
legal principles should govern
and exploitation of the Sea?
are
entitled, and
to
the Sea and its natural resources? What
States' activities
involving
uses
2. Natural CharacteriStics
The
Caspian
Sea is often referred
world". However,
to
as
"the greatest salt lake
in
the
according
Encyclopaedia Britannica, "it is not absoscientific
studies
have shown that, until geologically
as
lutely correct,
the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea, and
it
via
was linked,
quite recent times,
the Mediterranean, to the world ocean. This factor has molded strongly
to
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Vinogradov/Wouters
606
all aspects of its physical geography"3. It
regard the Caspian as an "inland sea,14.
The
west
Caspian
seems to
be
more
accurate to
Sea is located between the Caucasian mountains
and the Central Asian deserts
on
the
east.
It
on
the
presently occupies
an
than 143,000 square miles (370,000 square kilometers),
although its dimensions have varied over the centuries, with its surface
lying below ocean level. It stretches over nearly 750 miles (1,200 kiloof
area
more
to south and its average width is about 200 miles (320
More than 80 percent of the shoreline fell in the past within
meters) from north
kilometers).
Soviet territory and are shared now by Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan
and Turkmenistan; the remainder (in the south) belongs to Iran.
Based
on
the
geomorphological.
and
hydrological
characteristics the Sea
can be divided into the North, Middle, and South Caspian. The North
Caspian is the most shallow part of the Sea, with average depths of 4 to
6
Caspian is mostly a shelf area with depths up to
Caspian consists mainly of a depression,
one-third of the Sea and has a maximum depth of
The Middle
meters.
100-150 meters. The South
which
1000
covers
about
meters.
Volga and Terek (from Russia), and Ural
Kazakhstan) flow into the North Caspian, bringing
(from
with their waters a considerable amount of pollution. Almost 80% of the
water which enters the Sea comes from the Volga river. The catchment
area of the Caspian Sea comprises also the Araks river which has its outspring in Turkey. The Araks then becomes the border first between Turkey and Armenia, then between Armenia and Iran, and finally between
which has its outIran and Azerbaijan before it joins the Kura river
Sea.
the
into
and
in
runs
Caspian
Georgia
spring
The coastal waters of the Caspian Sea are polluted with oil, phenols,
ammonium and other substances. This pollution comes primarily from
Three
major
rivers
-
the
Russia and
-
-
-
land-based
and oil fields. Suffice it
of
which
produces
Azerbaijan,
country, 82% is discharged without
capital
the
sources
to
mention that
almost half of the
in
Baku, the
waste water
of
treatment5.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, 1990, Vol. 14, 256.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, 15th edition, V6111, Caspian Sea,
612. The FAO's Systematic Index qualifies the Caspian sea as the "inland sea" (see Systematic index of international Water Resources Treaties, Declarations, Acts and Cases by
Basin, Legislative Study No. 34, Vol. II, FAO, Rome 1984, 287).
5
Integrated Water Management and Protection Project for the Caspian Sea and its
Catchment Area. Situation Analysis and Project Proposal. WHO, European Centre for
3
The New
4
Environment and Health,
July
1993, 5.
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The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
607
Problems
Another major environmental problem of the Caspian
increase of the water level of the Sea. This process started
region
at
the
Is
the end of
scientific estimates, will continue at least until
2005. Since 1977 the water level raised by 2 meters (from -29 to -27 below
the global mean sea level), resulting in a general inundation and erosion of
and, according
1970's
the
Caspian
25
to minus
tion
of
coasts.
The
water
meters over
than
more
thousand
to
people
one
the
level of the
next
Caspian
Sea is
expected
million hectares of land. Almost
would have
to
to
rise
decades. This will result in the inundaone
be moved away from the
hundred
regions
in
danger6.
3. Historical
Background
more than two centuries the regime of the Caspian Sea remained
subject of bilateral relations between Iran (Persia) and the Russian
Empire, later the Soviet Union. However, agreements signed by two
which constitute the core of the present legal regime of the Sea
States
focused mainly on the issues of navigation and, to a lesser extent, fishing
the areas of primary interest to the then two coastal StateS7.
The Golestan Treaty (October 12, 1813) and the Turkomanchai Treaty
(February 28, 1828), which followed Persian defeats in its two wars
against Russia, subjected the Sea to almost complete Russian control. Persia, although retaining its right of commercial navigation, was barred
from having its warships in the Caspian Sea. According to both Treaties
the right to have a naval fleet in the Caspian Sea belonged exclusively to
the Russian government8.
For
the
-
-
-
This
situation
when the
existed until the Bolshevik revolution
in
Russia in 1917
Soviet government, motivated by its hostility to the "heritof
the
Tsarist
regime", renounced some of Russia's rights and
age
with
privileges
respect to its neighbors. The Treaty of Friendship between
6
ibid.,
7
The
new
9.
(February 13, 1729) between Russia and Persia on the demarcaof certain territories, provided for freedom of commerce and navigation
(Art.8) in the Caspian Sea and the Araks and Kura rivers. C. Parry, The Consolidated
Treaty Series, New York 1969 (1648-1919).
tion and
13
Treaty
of Resht
cession
Article 5 of the 1813 Golestan
Treaty and Article
8 of the 1828 Turkomanchai
Treaty.
See G.F. Martens, Nouveau recueil de trait6s
depuis 1808 jusqu' pr6sent. Gottingue
1817-1842, vol. 7, 564. According to one commentary the Turkomanchai Treaty gives the
impression
that the
sea was
considered
as
a
mare
nullius reserved for the
two
adjacent
States (see Systematic Index of International Water Resources Treaties, Declarations, Acts
and Cases by Basin, Legislative Study No. 15, FAO, Rome 1978, 34).
40 Za6RV 55/2
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608
Vinogradov/Wouters
(February 26, 1921) declared null and void all
and
treaties, agreements,
concessions, which diminished the rights of the
Persian people, concluded by the former Tsarist government with PerSoviet Russia and Iran
sia9. The
principle
of
equality
of
rights
was
the basis for bilateral relations between the
Except for
the restoration of Iran's
established
two
by
the
Treaty
as
States.
of
navigation (Article
issue of the legal
Treaty
both
countries
as
were
Sea,
preoccupied mostly
Caspian
with political stability in the post-World War I period. It was only in the
1930's that increased navigation and fishing in the Caspian Sea led to
bilateral negotiations to develop, though not in detail, the legal
framework for such activities through a number of accords, including the
Treaty of Establishment, Commerce and Navigation between the USSR
and Iran (August 27, 1935)10. Later this agreement was replaced by a
similar one, the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation (March 25, 1940)".
The underlying principle of both documents, which determined all aspects of the utilization of the Sea and its resources, was the exclusivity of
rights of coastal States. The Caspian Sea was "closed" to all third States
and their nationals. The right of navigation in the Caspian Sea, both naval
and commercial, was reserved exclusively for ships belonging to the
did
11), the 1921
regime of the
USSR and Iran,
or to
not
equal right
specifically address
the
their nationals and commercial and transport
com-
panies bearing the flag of either State. The notion of exclusivity went
far as, for example, not to allow nationals of third States to be included
the ship crews or personnel of ports 12.
9
Documenty vneshney politiki
SSSR
as
in
(Documents of the Foreign Policy of the USSR),
Moscow 1959, 536.
10
176 LNTS, 299. The Treaty replaced the Convention of Establishment, Commerce
Navigation (October 27, 1931) between the USSR and Iran. Convention reserved navigation and fishing rights in the Caspian Sea to vessels flying the Soviet or Iranian flag
(Articles 16-17). See Documenty vneshney politiki SSSR (Documents of the Foreign Policy of the USSR), Moscow 1968, 603-604; British and Foreign State Papers, Foreign Office, London, vol. 134, 1026 (hereinafter BFSP).
11
Sbornik deistvouyuschikh dogovorov, soglasheniy i konventsiy, zaklyuchyonnikh
SSSR s inostrannymi gosoudarstvarni (Collection of treaties, agreements and conventions,
concluded by the USSR with foreign States), vol. X, Moscow 1955, 56.
12
According to Article 14 of the 1935 Treaty only nationals of the two Parties could be
crew members on ships in the Caspian Sea. In an exchange of notes (October 1, 1927) Iran,
taking into consideration a mutual interest that the Caspian Sea remained exclusively
and
14
P e r s i a n", conceded to Russia's request that non-nationals of Iran shall not be
o v 1 e t
hired (as officers, workers and contractors) at the Port Pahlavi (Iran) for a 25-year period
(emphasis added). See Documenty vneshney politiki SSSR (Documents of the Foreign Policy of the USSR), Moscow 1965, 428-434. The same reference to the Caspian Sea as "PerS
-
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The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
609
Problems
fish in all Parts of the Caspian Sea,
of their neighbor, which was
except within a 10-mile zone along the coast
reserved exclusively for that State's own fishing vessels. For a time, howthe 10-mile zone was
ever, fishing in the southern part of the Sea beyond
Both States
enjoyed
the freedom
to
the terms of a concession granted to a joint Soviet-Iranian
which
was established in 192713. It acquired official status
company,
under a Soviet-Iranian agreement dated October 31, 1931, which confirmed its monopoly with respect to certain species of fish. The conces-
carried
sion
out on
remained
in
force for 25 years and was terminated by Iran in 1953.
political reasons other activities in the Sea, including
For historical and
scientific research, oil and gas exploration, and drilling in the areas
adjacent to their coasts, remained beyond the scope of bilateral regulaof
tions. The coastal States have never resolved the issue of delimitation
the
Sea. The Russian-Persian land border was defined by
the
marine
Caspian
1881 Border
ing
Commission14. It was confirmed, with minor changes relatislands and settlements which were returned to Persia, by
to certain
Treaty. However, the boundary line in the Caspian Sea was
established
never
by any bilateral arrangement but rather remained suband theoretical debate16.
assertions15
unilateral
ject to
the 1921
sian and Soviet" is contained also in The Notes of October 27, 1931 which accompany the
(see note 10, 612-613).
Agreement regarding the Exploitation of the Fisheries on the Southern Shore of the
Caspian Sea, with Protocol, and Exchange of Notes (October 1, 1927), 112 LNTS 297
1931 Convention
13
14
The Commission
Boundary
to
was
the East of the
established under
Caspian
Sea
See G.F. Martens, Recuell de trait6s...
augment6e, Gottingue 1817-1835, vol.3, 332.
15
Ile delimitation line on the Caspian Sea
between Astara and
NKVD
as
Hoseinqoli
was
a
Convention
(December 9, 1881)
depuis 1761 Jusqu'
as
established
(Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs)
in
a
on
the
Regulation
of the
between Russia and Persia.
present, 2 6dition
revue et
continuation of the terrestrial border
the Order No 3 of the
unilaterally by
1935 but has
never
been
recognized by
Iran
the Soviet-Iranian border.
16
According
to one
Iranian author "in 'amateurish'
interpretation
of the
Caspian
Sea
land borders from Astara to Husseinqoli in the
border line has been
east, calling it the imaginary border of the two countries, while no
demarcated for the two countries in the Caspian Sea", M.-R. D a b i r i, "A New Approach
of the Caspian Sea as a Basis for Peace and Development", The
to the
issues,
some
have tended
to
link the
two
Legal Regime
journal of International Affairs, Spring 1994, 32. Another Iranian author, comparing the Caspian Sea with Lake Major, asserts that:"Ia d6marcation la plus rationnelle, pour
cette mer, nous parait comme pour la lac Majeur, ftre la ligne m6diane sur laquelle seront
men6es des perpendiculaires des fronti6res c6ti6res 145/0 et 144/0, la portion sud appartenNran et Pautre partie
lURSS", A. D o w I a t c h a h i, La mer Caspienne, sa situaants
tion au regard du droit international, Paris 1961, 49.
Iranian
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610
Vinogradov/Wouters
Existing international instruments do not provide an exact definition of
Caspian Sea's legal status. Some authors find an indication of the
coastal States' approach to this issue in the Exchange of Notes between
the
the USSR and Iran at the time of the conclusion of the 1931, 1935 and
1940 Treaties. In these documents the Caspian Sea was repeatedly referred to as "the Soviet and Persian (Iranian) Sea". While this wording can
be
regarded
as
merely
of the coastal States,
tain a
particular legal
a
political
declaration
some
authors consider
status
of the Sea17.
reflecting
it as
the
special
sufficient basis
interests
to
main-
It is clear that the Caspian Sea and its resources have remained the
exclusive domain of its coastal States. This situation was accepted by
other States and acknowledged by international legal doctrine18. However, in
regime
the absence of
of the
definitive conventional determination of the legal
Sea its legal status will continue to be the subject of
a
Caspian
speculations. For the sake of theoretical clarity it is necessary to
consider the Caspian Sea through the prism of the existing relevant international legal regimes: enclosed seas and international lakes.
scientific
4. Theoretical
Background:
Enclosed Seas and International Lakes' 9
The threshold
this type of situation is whether the particubody water a lake, or enclosed or semi-enclosed sea. The identification of the type of water resource will determine what area of law it is
to be regulated by. For example, enclosed (and semi-enclosed) seas are
lar
question
of
in
is
regulated by
the international law of the
of the
of international lakes
By contrast, the utilization
(and rivers) is governed, in large part,
by the international law relating to the non-navigational uses of internawaters
sea.
17
M.-R. Dabiri, noting that "the Caspian Sea has always had a sui generis legal
status", practically equates it to a condominium: "the letter and spirit of agreements
reached between Iran and the former Soviet Union legally specify the Caspian Sea as con-
dominium",
18
D
a
bi
r
i
(note 16),
32-3 7
See, e.g., Ph. P o n d a v e n, Les lacs-fronti Paris
this fact: "Soviet
General
jurists regard
the
Caspian
as a
large
1972. W. B
lake which
u t
Ie
historically
r
acknowledges
has been called
of international law relative to the high seas, to vessels and their
seas do not extend to the Caspian, whose
regime is governed by
Soviet-Iranian treaties and agreements", W.E. B u t I e r, "The Soviet Union and the Continental Shelf", Notes and comments, 63 American journal of International Law 1969, 106.
19 Part
3 of this paper is based mainly on the unpublished
report by S. V 1 n o g r a d o v
and P. Wo u t e r s, "The Legal Regime of Enclosed Seas and International Lakes", Geneva
a
sea.
crews
sailing
norms
on
the
high
1994.
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© 1995, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht
The
tional
watercourses.
rights
are
equally
Thus the first
Caspian
Sea: Current
611
Problems
Legal
relating to delimitation and navigational
by the classification of the water resource.
The rules
determined
question
be addressed relates
to
to
classification.
or semi-enclosed
body
qualification
the
on
sea or
following geographical criteria: (i)
depends primarily
whether the particular water resource has a direct outlet connecting it
The
of
of
a
water as an
enclosed
lake
with
a
sea or
an
ocean;
different from that of
(ii) whether the body of
sea
is
water
at an
altitude
level.
a) Enclosed
seas:
legal regime
The concept of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas is not
of international law. While this notion emerged
trine
Third United Nations Conference
on
new in
the doc-
before the
long
the Law of the Sea, it has under-
gone serious changes since its inception. The 1982 UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea, as well as recent developments in State practice, have
Legally and politically they
now form the main geo-political basis for regional cooperation of coastal
States in such fields as economic development, marine environment protection, fishery resources management, and so forth. The number of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas is considerable enough, including such
strategically and economically important maritime areas as the Barents,
given
new
meaning
to
these maritime
areas.
Baltic, Black, Red, Mediterranean, and South China Seas,
as
well
the
as
Persian Gulf.
Originally, legal
water
geographers
ness
scholars differentiated between these
bodies based
primarily
"an 'enclosed'
sea
categories of
According to
two
criterion2O.
on
has
geographical
no outlet through
which
to
drain,
wit-
Caspian and the Aral Seas"21. Ph. Pondaven followed this
approach in distinguishing between enclosed and semi-enclosed
the
same
seas22
20
A. G
e rva
i s and G. F o
u
iIIou
x
defined them
as
follows: "Les
mers
ferm6es
sont
enti6rement situ6es a Vint6rieur des terres, sans communications avec une autre mer", "Ies
celles-ci par des
mers semi-ferm6es sont des mers a la fois isol6es d'autres mers et rell6es
d6troits de faible
largeur" (Repertoire
de droit international, Paris, t.69, 333, article
"Mer").
21
L.M.
E. Fabbri
Alexander, "The Management of Enclosed and Semi-enclosed Seas",
Ocean Management and Global Change, London 1992, 539-49.
in:
(ed.),
22
Pondaven concludes that "il convient d'abandonner la distinction entre lac et mer
ferm6e pour assimiler... les mers ferm6es bord6es par plusieurs riverains a des lacs-fronti6re, celles-ci se rangent naturellement dans la cat6gorie des lacs-fronti6re ne communi-
quant pas
avec
la
mer
libre" (note 18), 12-13.
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612
Vinogradov/Wouters
However, the 1982 UNCLOS changed completely the historically prevailing legal meaning of the term "enclosed sea". The UNCLOS does not
distinguish between enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, but instead places
them both into one general category. Article 122 of Part IX of the
UNCLOS provides that "enclosed or semi-enclosed sea means a gulf,
basin or sea surrounded by two or more States and connected to another
sea or the ocean by a narrow outlet or consisting entirely or primarily of
the territorial
States
and exclusive economic
seas
zones
of
coastal
two or more
,,23
Thus, from
a
legal point
closed and semi-enclosed
of view there is
no
distinction between
en-
(geographic and legal) must
be met to qualify a body of water for coverage by the provisions of Part
IX: (i) it has to be connected to another sea or the ocean by a narrow
outlet, and/or (ii) consist entirely or primarily of the territorial seas and
exclusive economic
zones
strued
seas.
of
Two criteria
two or more
coastal States. This
as including even
graphical point of view, are
containing
a
outlet.
narrow
"Apertis verbis according
The definition of Article 122
include
relatively
can
these marine
to
by
water
(UNCLOS)
such
areas,
primarily by
is
"so worded
the Coral
as
potentially
as to
or
arguably
Barents Seas,
their coastal States' exclusive economic
be absorbed into
hand,
a
distinction
a
legally and politically
single legal category.
must
all of
be made between enclosed
seas
(UNCLOS) and the so-called "enclosed" seas or
the Caspian and the Aral Seas) which, despite some
Article 122
"quasi-seas" (such
as
23
UNCLOS, The Law of the Sea: United Nations Convention
United Nations, New York 1983.
on
the Law of the Sea,
Scale of Ocean Management and Marine Region BuildManagement 1994, 23.
25 Alexander
(note 21). According to Alexander, "the water body may be over
per cent enclosed, as in the case of the Black and Mediterranean Seas, in which situation
ing",
90
con-
UNCLOS the
thus be maintained that both
areas can
On the other
defined
open
covered
are
zones"25. It
24
be
-
category embracing both enclosed and semi-enclosed seas is
much wider than that identified through geographic criteria ,,24
which
can
marine areas, which, from a strictly geonot enclosed or semi-enclosed seas
i.e. not
those
the
A. Va I I e g a, "The
Regional
24 Ocean and Coastal
flushing
action
will be
extremely
slow.
Conversely,
a
semi-enclosed
sea
may have
a
broad connection with a larger water body. In the case of the Bay of Bengal, for example,
there is a 700-mile opening into the Indian Ocean, between Sri Lanka and Thailand".
A I e x a n d e r argues that marine bodies "in which 95 per cent or more of the periphery is
occupied by
land"
can
be considered
qualify as a semi-enclosed
cupied by land" (ibid.).
sea
as an
enclosed
approximately
sea.
50 per
He also proposes that "in order
cent
of the
periphery
should be
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to
oc-
The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
of their natural characteristics (i.e., dimensions and
within the former category.
They
have
613
Problems
no connection
salinity)
not
fall
ocean
and
do
with the
lakes. However, due to specific geographical,
political and historical circumstances, their legal regimes differ from that
of most other international lakes and thus deserve special consideration.
of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas is part of the
As the
sometimes are
regarded
legal regime
international law of the
as
navigation,
natural
marine
marine
as
sea,
areas (such
exploration and exploitation of
governed primarily by the principles
all activities within these maritime
scientific research,
resources,
etc.)
are
and rules contained in the 1982 UNCLOS, as well as other relevant international instruments. Article 123 (UNCLOS), however, acknowledges
the particular character of this category of maritime areas and urges
coastal States
to
cooperate with each other
in
the management,
conserva-
tion, marine environmental protection, scientific research, exploration
and exploitation of living resources thereof. Importantly, the UNCLOS
recommendations in this regard and thus imcoastal States.
poses no substantive obligations upon
Most of the current legal issues concerning enclosed and semi-enclosed
does
not
go
beyond
mere
arise from economic development and pollution problems. These
have become the focus of extensive international cooperation, especially
within the context of the marine regions concept26. Management of the
is based legally on
oceans and their natural resources on a regional level
seas
the relevant provisions of the UNCLOS (Articles 63, 66, 118, 122, 123,
197, 276, 277, and 282).
Delimitation remains one of the most complicated problems and has a
and congreat potential for leading to future international controversies
fliCtS27. This is particularly the case where unresolved delimitation questions
are
aggravated by overlapping unilaterally-asserted
territorial claims
26
See, e.g., J. M o r g a n, "The Marine Region", 24 Ocean & Coastal Management
1994, 51-70; Va I I e g a (note 24).
27
See, e.g., S. S h a r rn a, Delimitation of Land and Sea Boundaries Between NeighborLines in the Sea", 18 Yale Journal of
ing States, New Delhi 1989; B. Oxman, "Drawing
international Law 1993, 663-74; J. G i I a s, "Equitable Principles of the Delimitation of
the Continental Shelf", XIX Polish Yearbook of international Law 1991-1992, 61-69;
H. C h i u, "The Problem of Delimiting the Maritime Boundary between the Exclusive
Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of Opposite States", in: Essays in Honour of
Wang Tieya,
1994.
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614
Vinogradov/Wouters
with respect to the areas rich in marine living and mineral resources (as in
the situation with the Aegean Sea 28 and the South China Sea29).
Currently
there exist
significant treaty and judicial practice, as well as
provisions of the UNCLOS (Article 74 regarding the
EEZ, and Article 83(l)
regarding the Continental Shelf), which govern
delimitation of maritime areas, including those in enclosed and semi-enclosed seaS30. However, there exists no single and generally recognized
the substantive
-
-
method of delimitation. The 1982 UNCLOS formula that delimitation
shall be effected by agreement in accordance with equitable principles has
gained general
acceptance
b)
The
and is
the notion of the
to
sea
there exist
practice, which
no
sovereignty
seas
of coastal States.
conventional
legal rules,
nor
govern all aspects of activities with respect
international lakes and their
resources.
tional lakes vary significantly and
tional agreements.
The
legal regime32
international lakes differs from that of enclosed
Unlike the law of the
to
basic rule3l.
International lakes:
legal regime of
closely linked
uniform State
as a
are
based
The
legal regimes of
primarily on specific
internainterna-
important legal issues relating to international lakes are: (i)
boundaries; (11) if the lakes are navigable, the
governing navigation; and (iii) the rules governing the non-navigamost
the delimitation of their
rules
tional
28
uses
of their
See N. P o u I
waters.
"The New International Law of the Sea and the
Legal Status
de droit international 1991, 251-72.
29
Z. G a o, "The South China Sea: From Conflict to Cooperation", 25 Ocean Development & International Law 1994, 345-59; Y. H u i, "Joint Development of Mineral
Resources
An Asian Solution?", 2 Asian Yearbook of International Law 1991, 87-112.
30
For a comprehensive analysis of existing State practice in the area of maritime delimiof the
Aegean Sea",
a n t z a
s,
44 Revue
hell6nique
-
tation
see
the
most
fundamental
recent
legal
treatise
on
this issue International Maritime
Boundaries, U.I. Charney & L. M. Alexander eds.), Vols. I & 11, Dordrecht 1993.
31
G. J a e n i c k e, "North Sea Continental Shelf Case", in R. Bernhardt (ed.), Encyclopedia of Public International Law (EPIL), Instalment 2, 205-208, at 208.
32
Among
Chad
the
most
important
international lakes: Lake Albert
(Uganda-Zaire); Lake
Lake Constance (Austria-Germany-Switzerland);
the Great Lakes (comprising 5 individual but con-
(Cameroon-Chad-Niger-Nigeria);
Lake Geneva
(France-Switzerland);
nected lakes shared between Canada-United States); Lake Lugano (Italy-Switzerland);
Lake Malawi (Malawi-Mozambique-Tanzania); Lake Tanganyika (Burundi-Ruanda-Tan-
zania-Zaire-Zambia); Lake Titicaca (Bolivia-Peru); Lake Victoria (Kenya-Uganda-TanSee the important study by P o n d a e n (note 18), 432-438, which contains a list
zania).
of
some
v
65 international lakes.
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The
Caspian Sea:
Current
Legal
615
Problems
The rules governing the delimitation (and demarcation) of the boundState
aries of an international lake are not universally accepted. Although
borall
that
is
States
view
the
this
varied
has
issue,
on
prevailing
practice
is
lake
the
Where
it.
of
share
entitled
lake
a
to
are
an international
dering
successive, the boundary generally follows the terrestrial border. In the
of contiguous lakes, the respective parts are generally determined
through the use of a median line33, but there have been significant excepbordered by
tions to this rule. For example, Lake Constance, which is
case
Austria, Germany and Switzerland has yet
Germany
and Switzerland have
agreed
to a
to be fully delimited. Only
boundary line but this re-
the Untersee, one of the three parts of the Lake. As to the
solely
of
the Lake, the Obersee, the parties have been unable to
largest part
delimitathe
come to
agreement on which principles should govern its
shared
be
should
Lake
the
of
this
that
by all
maintains
Austria
tion.
part
lates
to
three
riparians
as a
condominium; Switzerland contends that the median
line should be used for the delimitation; and
official
Germany has
not
taken any
position34.
Methods other than the median line which have been used to delimit
international lakes include the use of astronomical straight lines (in the
case
of Lake
cal reference
Victoria), and a combination of astronomical and geographipoints (Lake Chad)35.
In summary, the delimitation of international lakes is
not at present
there
of
nor
are
rules,
universally accepted
governed by an
Thus it remains an
customary norms based on uniform State practice.
36
controversies
area in which potential
may arise
established
set
33 The actual detennination of the median line varies with
practice. Calculations for
median lines may be based on measurements commencing from the banks of the lake, or
See L. C a f I i s c h,
on transversals traced in circles drawn along the course of the lake.
"R g6n6rales du droit des cours d'eau internationaux", 219 Recueil des cours de
I'Acad6mie de droit international 1989-VII, 113-225, 95-99. See also G. Marston,
"Boundary Waters", in R. Bernhardt (ed.), EPIL, Instalment 10, 29.
34
J. A. Frowein, "Lake Constance", in R. Bernhardt (ed.), EPIL, Instalment 12,
216-219, at 216.
35 See P.H.
Sand, "Development of International Water Law in the Lake Chad Basin", 34 Zeitschrift ftir auslandisches i5ffentliches Recht und Vblkerrecht 1974, 52-82, at
70. See additional examples in C a f I i s c h (note 33), 98-99.
36
Where States enjoy friendly relations, the international lake may indeed remain undelimited. This is the case of Lake Constance where most matters, except international
boundary, have been regulated by treaty. However, some issues may arise even between
friendly States. Clearly, different situations may occur where riparian States are unfriendly.
In such
cases
border
controversies
could well pose
a
threat
to
international peace.
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616
Vinogradov/Wouters
Navigation
entirely
on
international lakes is another
settled37. While freedom of
area
navigation
of law which is
not
promoted by
the
was
League of
Nations 1921 Barcelona Convention38, not all States have
adopted this notion. At a minimum one can say that State practice supports the view that the States bordering a navigable lake are entitled to
freely navigate on the entire lake
recognition of the principle of the
of
that
interests"
Iccommunity
riparians have39.
An issue arises where non-riparian States want to navigate the waterway; despite the State practice in Europe and North America which recognizes generally the principle of freedom of navigation for all, most
-
other States have been reluctant
to accept such a position, even in a situation where their former colonial powers had "internationalized" navigation on certain rivers and lakes. In the case of Lake Chad, for example,
the 1964 Convention and Statute
relating
to
the
Development
of the Chad
Basin, declares the basin open to the four riparians only40. It would
appear, however, that most States have regulated navigational issues by
treaty.
The rules of international law
international
watercourses
have
relating to the non-navigational uses of
recently been codified (and progressively
developed) by the United Nations' International Law Commission (ILC).
In July 1994, the ILC adopted on second (and final) reading Draft Articles and Commentaries on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International WatercourseS41. The ILC has
bly
of the UN
general
to convene a
convention based
on
now
conference of
asked the General Assem-
plenipotentiaries
to
elaborate
a
the Draft Articles.
Under the ILC Draft Articles, "international watercourse"
is
defined
as
'a watercourse, parts of which are situated in different States"42 and
"watercourse" is defined as "a system of surface waters and ground wa-
37
For
history
and
development
Caflisch (note 33),
Articles XII-XX (note 45).
see
38
at
Convention and Statute
of
navigation
with respect
to
international waterways,
Chapter 4,
37-42, 104-132. See also ILA Helsinki Rules,
on
the
Regime
of
Navigable Waterways
of International
Concern, Barcelona 1921, League of Nations Treaty Series 7, at 35.
39
"Territorial jurisdiction of the River Oder Commission", Permanent Court of International justice, series A, no. 23 (1929).
40
Sand (note 35).
41
Draft Articles and Commentaries on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, adopted on Second Reading by the ILC at its Forty-sixth Session,
U.N. Doc. A/CNA/L.493 and Add.1 and Add.2 (July 12, 1994) [hereinafter ILC Draft
Articles].
42
Article
2(a), ILC Draft Articles.
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The
Caspian
Sea: Current
617
Problems
Legal
constituting by virtue of their physical relationship a unitary whole
normally flowing into a common terminus"43. The "common terminus" requirement was not accepted unanimously by the Members of
the Commission and a compromise led to the inclusion of the qualifier
.normally". The definitional issue is an important one as it determines
the scope of application of the ArticleS44.
ters
and
The International Law Association
1966 Helsinki Rules
45
adopted
the
The Institute of International Law
used the
term
"hydrographic
(ILA)
term
in
codification project, the
drainage basin ,46
its
"international
(Institut de droit international, IDI)
basin" in their
Salzburg
Resolution of
196 147.
The substantive
ternational
projects
principles relating
to
watercourses common to
are:
international
(i)
that
watercourse
watercourse
table utilization
rule), (11)
in
an
States
the
are
equitable
in such
a
-navigational uses of inforegoing codification
way
entitled
to use
the
and reasonable
as not to cause
watercourse States (no harm rule)48.
obliged to observe the procedural duties
and, possibly, cooperation49.
other
to
non
each of the
are
waters
manner
significant
of
an
(equiharm
To achieve such
ends,
of notification,
negotiation,
States
Some controversy has arisen over which principle, "equitable utilizaor "no harm", governs where a conflict of uses arises between ripar-
tion"
ian
States
competing
for limited
water resources
insufficient
to meet
all
2(b), ILC Draft Articles. Article 2(c) defines "watercourse State" as "a State
territory part of an international watercourse is situated".
44
See the history of controversy in the ILC and the Sixth Committee of the UN over
the resolution of this definition discussed in J.L. Wescoat, Jr., "Beyond the River
Basin: The Changing Geography of International Water Problems and International
43
Article
in whose
Watercourse Law", Doman
orado
45
on
the Law of International Watercourses, 3 Col-
Policy 1992, 301-330.
the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers, ILA, Report of the
Conference, Helsinki 1966, 484-532.
journal
Helsinki Rules
Fifty-Second
Colloquium
of International Environmental Law and
on
46
Article 2, Helsinki Rules.
Salzburg Resolution on the Utilization of Non-maritime International Waters (Ex381-84 (1961),
cept for Navigation), 49-11 Annuaire de l'Institut de droit international,
Article 1.
4' The
no harm rule generally contains a threshold qualifier such as "appreciable", "significant" or "substantial". The ILC has adopted a "no significant harm" rule based on a
47
duty of due diligence. See Article 7, ILC Draft Articles. A recent multilateral convention
has adopted a "no adverse transboundary impact" approach; however its Article 1(2) defiConvention on the Prones transboundary impact as "any significant adverse affect", see
tection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, Helsinki, March
17, 1992, 31 International Legal Materials 1992, 1312-1329.
49
See Articles 8-19, ILC Draft Articles.
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© 1995, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht
618
Vinogradov/Wouters
needs. The
significance of this issue is readily apparent in the case of
pollution harm to be permitted under the equitable utilization rule, or vetoed automatically under the no harm rule50) With environmental concerns growing in importance, the related issues of pollupollution:
tion
is
harm, and protection and preservation of the aquatic environment of
international water-ways, are becoming key issues in international water51
Witness the series of water quality agreements
course management
the
Great Lakes shared by Canada and the United States. An
concerning
independent
bilateral commission
tablished under the 1909
role
in
and
establishing
(the International joint Commission esBoundary Waters Treaty) plays an important
monitoring the water quality of the Great
LakeS52.
But what rules govern such issues where States have
agreements
problems?
established international commissions
or
not
concluded
address such
to
The rules and
guidelines presented by the ILC and ILA are
on
pollution (and other) harm, and
this could lead to many potential problems in the future53. That the fundamental principles governing the allocation of the non-navigational uses
of international lakes (and rivers) remain unclear increases the possibility
the important issue of
inconsistent
of international conflicts.
c) The Caspian
The
not
be
only
Caspian
Sea with
qualified
link of the
as an
50
51
ture
Sea)
to
sea
direct outlet
Sea
connects
sea as
to
to
or
another
defined
other
international lake?
by
sea or
the
ocean can-
the 1982 UNCLOS. The
maritime areas
is
via a
the
other rivers which
Consequently,
system of
the Cas-
Volga river (which flows into
eventually empty into the Black
the rules of the international law of the
or
sea
Baltic
do
not
Article 21, ILC Draft Articles; Article XX, Helsinki Rules.
McCaffrey, "The Law of International Watercourses: Present Problems, FuTrends", in A. Kiss/F. Burhenne-Guilmin (eds.), A Law for the Environment. Essays
S.C.
in Honour of
52
no
enclosed
Caspian
artificial canals that
pian
Seas.
Sea: enclosed
Wolfgang
E.
Burhenne, IUCN, 1994,
113-120.
On Canada-United States international lakes and
tion of the
Non-Navigational
rivers,
see
P. Wo
u t e r
Uses of International Watercourses: Efforts
at
s,
"Alloca-
Codification
and the Experience of Canada and the United States," 30 Canadian Yearbook of International Law 1992, 43-88.
53
L. C a f I i s c h, "Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas: R6gle prioritaire ou 616ment
servant ii mesurer le droit de participation 6quitable et raisonnable
Putilisation d'un cours
d'eau international?", in: Internationales Recht auf See und
für Walter Müller, 27-47 (1992).
Binnengewässern.
Festschrift
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The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
619
Problems
automatically apply to the Caspian Sea. Coastal States are free, nevertheless, to apply these rules in their conventional arrangements regarding this
body of water.
On the other hand, one cannot readily qualify the Caspian Sea as an
international lake54. Such unique factors as its geophysical characteristics
(e.g. salinity), dimensions (the Caspian Sea is five times larger than the
world's second largest lake, Lake Superior, and bigger than the Persian
Gulf and the Oman Sea together)55, numerous living and mineral resources, and its active use for navigation, call into question the applicability of traditional "international lake" law approaches, such as partition
between riparian States. Once again, coastal States might elect to employ
rules applicable to international watercourses, including lakes, in the
settlement of the legal regime of the Caspian Sea.
The most promising solution would be to create a special regime for
the Sea through a general framework treaty defining its legal status (addressing specifically the issues of the territorial extent and substantive
and accompanied by a number
scope of sovereign rights of coastal States)
of specific agreements on particular issues (navigation, protection of the
environment, conservation and the use of biological resources, exploitation of the mineral
on a
of the
resources
combination of
certain
sea-bed). This regime
rules from the law of the
sea
could be based
and the law of
watercourses.
particular relevance in this respect
the UNEP principles on shared natural resources of 197956.
Of
international
5. Recent
Multilateral and bilateral
54
a
According
the
to
relict marine basin".
55
56
D
a
negotiations between the
five
Caspian States,
soon
opinion
fauna, flora) the Caspian
Sea
Developments
of the expert of the
Intergovernmental Oceanographic
UNESCO, "from oceanographic point of view (composition of
Commission
Caspian
also
after the demise of the former Soviet Union, have
great divergence of views on the future legal regime of the Sea:
which started
revealed
are
(Minutes
Initiative,
biri
17
(note 16),
UNEP Draft
Sea should be considered
of the
Meeting
on
January 1995, Geneva,
at
as
a
sea.
Cooperation
5).
water,
In fact the
of UN
Caspian Sea is a
Organizations in the
at
33.
Principles
of Conduct in the Field of the Environment for the Guid-
of States in the Conservation and Harmonious Utilization of Natural Resources
Shared by Two or More States, in 17 International Legal Materials 1978, 1097 UN General Assembly Resolution 34/186 of 18 December 1979 requested all States "to use the
ance
principles
as
conventions
guidelines and recommendations in the formulation of bilateral
regarding natural resources shared by two or more States
or
multilateral
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620
Vinogradov/Wouters
from suggestions for the establishment of
complete division by the coastal States.
The
a
condominium
to
the Sea's
alarming tendency, which might well undermine efforts to
a compromise acceptable to all interested parties, is the attempt on
the part of some coastal States to unilaterally extend their sovereign rights
and jurisdiction over certain parts of the Caspian Sea which they claim
belong to them. This is particularly the case of those countries that benefit from a long coastline and considerable deposits of mineral resources
in the areas adjacent to their coasts.
Through enactment of the Law on the State Border in 1993 Turkmenistan was the first State to establish, according to the rules of the law of
the sea, a territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, thereby extending
its coastal jurisdiction over vast areas of the Caspian Sea. As was already
noted above, Azerbaijan, despite persistent Russian objections, signed an
agreement in September 1994 with an international consortium regarding
exploitation of some oil fields in the Caspian Sea57. Kazakhstan is now
contemplating entering into a similar contract with another international
consortium. Not only are these unilateral acts inconsistent with expected
behavior of States involved in diplomatic negotiations, but they also violate international obligations and commitments of these States.
At present there is no legal "vacuum" in the Caspian Sea. The SovietIranian treaties, which constitute the existing legal regime of the Caspian
Sea, no matter how incomplete, are still in force for all coastal States. All
former republics of the USSR, as successor States, are bound by the international obligations of the former Soviet Union. This was confirmed by
the Declaration of Alma-Ata (December 21, 1991), wherein the participants of the Commonwealth of Independent States undertook to fulfil all
most
find
57
The Russian
natural
resources,
standpoint
and
current
with respect to the legal status of the Caspian Sea and its
and political situation in the region was spelled out in a
legal
letter "Position of the Russian Federation
regarding the legal regime of the Caspian Sea",
Secretary-General (A/49/475, 5 October 1994). 'Me document
stipulates, inter alia, that "the Caspian Sea and its resources are of vital importance to all
the States bordering on it. For this reason, all utilization of the Caspian Sea, in particular
the development of the mineral resources of the Caspian seabed and the rational use of its
must be the subject of concerted action on the
living resources
part of all States border". The document concludes in a very strong wording: "Unilateral action
ing the Caspian
in respect of the Caspian Sea is unlawful and will not be recognized by the Russian Federation, which reserves the right to take such measures as it deems necessary and whenever it
deems appropriate, to restore the legal order and overcome the consequences of unilateral
actions. Full responsibility for these events, including major material damage, rests with
those who undertake unilateral action and thereby display their disregard for the legal
nature of the Caspian Sea and for their obligations under international agreements".
addressed
to
the UN
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The
international
cluded
by
Caspian
obligations
Sea: Current
Legal
contained in the
621
Problems
treaties
and agreements
con-
the former Soviet Union.
principles of international law and the recognition
of the ecological unity of the Caspian Sea was expressed in a Communiqu6 (October 14, 1993) adopted by the Conference on the problems of
the Caspian Sea58. The parties thereto acknowledged that "the comprehensive solution of the problem of rational utilization of the Caspian
Sea requires the participation of all Caspian States". Several areas of "joint
activities" were defined, including protection of natural reserves and
natural resources of the Caspian Sea; conservation, reproduction and optimal utilization of the biological resources; development of mineral reThe adherence
with due
sources
tion of rational
ments;
to
the
account
sea
of economic
lanes with due
interests
account
of the Parties; determina-
of environmental
require-
and control of the level of the Sea.
approach to this issue adopted by some of the coastal
States is particularly evident in the context of the ongoing multilateral
negotiations aimed at drafting a framework Treaty on Regional Cooperation in the Caspian Sea. The work on the Treaty was initiated at the
Teheran Conference of Caspian States in 1992. The draft Treaty, prepared by Iran in consultation with other interested States, was completed
in 1993. The draft is based on the notion of cooperation of Caspian States
in the utilization of the Sea, which is regarded as a unique environmental
system of particular importance to all coastal States. The draft provides
for the establishment of a regional organization of Caspian States as an
The controversial
institutional framework for future activities, which decisions would be
based on the principle of consensus. The draft Treaty rejects the idea of
the
partition of the
Sea between coastal States,
as
well
as
any
unilaterally-
asserted territorial claims.
Azerbaijan prepared its own draft ConCaspian Sea into sectors which
would have a regime of internal waters. In practical terms this called for
the complete partition of the Sea among the coastal States. A similar draft
Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was presented by
Kazakhstan in August 1994. This approach was not approved by the
other Caspian States. In its Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Azerbaijan (January 14, 1994) the Russian Foreign Ministry defined the
However,
in
December 1993
vention, proposing
58
to
divide the entire
Conference, which took place in Astrakhan (Russia) in October 1993, was
by the Heads of Governments of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turlune-
The
attended
nistan.
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622
Vinogradov/Wouters
body of water", which had
utilization
joint
by riparian States. Its legal
subject
always
status could be developed through a number of agreements designed to
regulate the particular uses of the Sea, based generally on the Treaty on
Regional Cooperation. A number of agreements on such issues as environmental protection and conservation and rational utilization of
biological resources of the Caspian Sea have already been drafted by the
Caspian
Sea
as an
"enclosed intra-continental
been the
of
coastal StateS59.
A meeting of the five coastal States, which was convened in Moscow in
October 1994, was supposed to finalize the work on the draft Treaty.
Following preliminary bilateral consultations conducted by Iran with all
other coastal States, only a few questions of minor importance remained
unresolved before the meeting. However, it became obvious at the meet-
Azerbaijan had reconsidered its position with respect to the Treaty, motivated primarily by the signing of its oil contract. According to its
representative, the conclusion of the Treaty and creation of a regional
organization were premature. Particularly unacceptable for Azerbaijan
were the provisions of the draft Treaty stipulating that "the Caspian Sea is
a subject of a joint utilization of the Caspian States" and calling for
.coordination of approaches to the various aspects of activities in the
Caspian Sea".
The position of Azerbaijan was shared, although with greater flexibility, by Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which, nonetheless, participated
in the final drafting of the Treaty at the meeting. Eventually, the draft
was agreed to in principle by four coastal States and opposed by Azering
that
baijan.
In
of the fact that all coastal States should agree on the final
legal regime of the Caspian Sea, no decision on the
view
determination of the
signing of the
59
Treaty
was
taken. As of the time of the
writing
of this
negotiations of the Caspian States held January, 30-February, 2,
(Turkmenistan) considered a draft Agreement on the conservation and
utilization of biological resources of the Caspian Sea. The only major issue which remained
unresolved before the meeting was the extent of the exclusive fishing jurisdiction of coastal
States; positions of the parties varied from 15 (Russia) and 25 (Kazakhstan) to 30 (Iran) and
40 (Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan) miles. Finally the four Caspian States: Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan adopted the final text of the Agreement and agreed on the
20-mile limit of the coastal States' fishing zones. Azerbaijan remained the only State which
refused to accept the Agreement. As was declared by its delegation, the Agreement predetermines the legal regime of the Caspian sea, and thus should be considered within the
framework of the general Treaty.
The multilateral
1995 in Ashkhabad
http://www.zaoerv.de
© 1995, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht
The
Caspian
Sea: Current
Legal
623
Problems
interested States continue in the
paper, bilateral consultations between the
reached60.
be
hope that an acceptable compromise can
Conclusions
6.
geopolitical phenomenon
extant legal respecial
of
Russia
State
the
bilateral
based
which
is
(the USSR)
on
practice
gime,
and Iran, is not adequate to cope with today's political, economic and
environmental problems. However, the underlying idea of the current
The
Caspian
requires
which
Sea
is a
unique
geophysical
and
legal regime. The
international
a
the Sea as the exclusive domain of coastal States and a commuregime
nity of their interests with respect to the uses and management of the Sea
Sea and its resourcan become the basis for a new regime. The Caspian
-
-
ces are
the
of
particular importance
subject
regional
of their
custom
to
all coastal States and have
joint utilization.
based
on
the
One
can even
always
been
argue that there exists a
of coastal States
longstanding practice
which considered the Caspian Sea as their common resource. This custom
based on
can be changed only through the establishment of a new regime
the agreement of all States concerned.
Neither division of the Sea between the Caspian States, nor the application of the concept of condominium seem to be acceptable to all coastal
States. Unilateral claims and
complex
issue.
From the
actions are not
legal
productive
in
resolving
this
point of view such unilateral actions, dethe part of other coastal States, cannot
spite persistent objections on
change the existing legal regime of the
negatively affect relations between
fragile political stability in the region.
can
Caspian
Sea.
Politically,
such
acts
coastal States and undermine the
60 The summit of the
presidents of Russia and Turkmenistan, which took place in May
1995 in Moscow, showed that the positions of two countries are getting closer. At the
meeting the Russian president underlined the necessity of a common program for the utili-
zation of the
plan Sea
is
Caspian
natural resources, biological and mineral. He stressed that "the Cassea, which cannot be divided". The Turkmenian president
special inland
the Caspian Sea
a
should not become a source of distrust or tension between
that
coastal States. Both leaders saw a need to agree on a general legal status of the Sea, with
due account taken of the interests of coastal States, prior to undertaking mineral resource
agreed
development.
See
Rossiyskaya Gazeta,
19
May
1995.
41 Za6RV 55/2
http://www.zaoerv.de
© 1995, Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht

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