States’ Environmental Obligations in Disputed Maritime Areas and the Limits of International Law
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There are many cases worldwide where two or more States’ maritime claims over ocean space and marine resources overlap, leading to disputed maritime areas. Many of these disputed maritime areas include rare or fragile marine ecosystems and constitute the habitat of vulnerable species. General environmental provisions under international law are binding upon States in disputed maritime areas. Yet, environmental degradation of disputed maritime areas is a live, ongoing, and potentially increasing problem. This chapter explores the specific contours of these environmental obligations and how these may be applied in dispute settlement under UNCLOS. It addresses three important environmental legal issues in international jurisprudence and State practice and which are relevant to the obligations of States acting in disputed maritime areas: (1) the duty to cooperate over environmental matters; (2) the duty to apply a precautionary approach; and (3) the duty to conduct an environmental impact assessment and monitor environmental impacts.