Three-stage Approach of Maritime Delimitation in law of the sea is Developed from Two Stage-Approach.

  • Two Stage-Approach

Maritime Delimitation in the Area between Greenland and Jan Mayen, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1993, p.38, para.50&59.

50. Judicial decisions on the basis of the customary law governing continental shelf delimitation between opposite coasts have likewise regarded the median line as a provisional line that may then be adjusted or shifted in order to ensure an equitable result. [ …]

59. Having thus concluded that it is appropriate to have recourse to a median line provisionally drawn as a first stage in the delimitation process, the Court now turns to the question whether the circumstances of the present case require adjustment or shifting of that line, taking into account the arguments relied on by Norway to justify the median line, and the circumstances invoked by Denmark as justifying the 200-mile line. For that purpose, the Court will have to consider in greater detail the geographical context of the dispute, which has already been outlined above (paragraphs 11-21). The median line, shown on sketch-map No. 1 (p. 45 above) as the line AD, has to be seen in that context, and particularly in relation to the three areas defined in paragraphs 18-20 above. The “area of overlapping claims”, defined in paragraph 18 above, between the two lines representing the Parties’ claims, is of obvious relevance to any case involving opposed boundary claims. But maritime boundary claims have the particular feature that there is an area of overlapping entitlements, in the sense of overlap between the areas which each State would have been able to claim had it not been for the presence of the other State; this was the basis of the principle of non-encroachment enunciated in the North Sea Continental Shelf cases (Z.C.J. Reports 1969, p. 36, para. 57; p. 53, para. 101 (C) (1)). It is clear that in this case a true perspective on the relationship of the opposing claims and the opposing entitlements is to be gained by considering both the area of overlapping claims and the area of overlapping potential entitlement (paragraph 19 above).

  • Three Stage-Approach

Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2009, p. 61, para.118-121.

118. In keeping with its settled jurisprudence on maritime delimitation, the first stage of the Court’s approach is to establish the provisional equidistance line. At this initial stage of the construction of the provisional equidistance line the Court is not yet concerned with any relevant circumstances that may obtain and the line is plotted on strictly geometrical criteria on the basis of objective data.

119. In the present case the Court will thus begin by drawing a provisional equidistance line between the adjacent coasts of Romania and Ukraine, which will then continue as a median line between their opposite coasts.

120. The course of the final line should result in an equitable solution (Articles 74 and 83 of UNCLOS). Therefore, the Court will at the next, second stage consider whether there are factors calling for the adjustment or shifting of the provisional equidistance line in order to achieve an equitable result (Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon andNigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria : Equatorial Guinea intervening), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2002, p. 441, para. 288). The Court has also made clear that when the line to be drawn covers several zones of coincident jurisdictions, “the so-called equitable principles/relevant circumstances method may usefully be applied, as in these maritime zones this method is also suited to achieving an equitable result” (Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Honduras), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2007 (II), p. 741, para. 271).

121. This is the second part of the delimitation exercise to which the Court will turn, having first established the provisional equidistance line.

122. Finally, and at a third stage, the Court will verify that the line (a provisional equidistance line which may or may not have been adjusted by taking into account the relevant circumstances) does not, as it stands, lead to an inequitable result by reason of any marked disproportion between the ratio of the respective coastal lengths and the ratio between the relevant maritime area of each State by reference to the delimitation line (see paragraphs 214-215). A final check for an equitable outcome entails a confirmation that no great disproportionality of maritime areas is evident by comparison to the ratio of coastal lengths. This is not to suggest that these respective areas should be proportionate to coastal lengths — as the Court has said “the sharing out of the area is therefore the consequence of the delimitation, not vice versa” (Maritime Delimitation in the Area between Greenland and Jan Mayen (Denmark v. Norway), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1993, p. 67, para. 64).

Delimitation of the maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh/Myanmar),

Judgment, ITLOS Reports 2012, p. 4, para.239-240.

239. The Tribunal finds that in the present case the appropriate method to be applied for delimiting the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf between Bangladesh and Myanmar is the equidistance/relevant circumstances method.

240. In applying this method to the drawing of the delimitation line in the present case, the Tribunal, taking into account the jurisprudence of international courts and tribunals on this matter, will follow the three stage-approach, as developed in the most recent case law on the subject. Accordingly, the Tribunal will proceed in the following stages: at the first stage it will construct a provisional equidistance line, based on the geography of the Parties’ coasts and mathematical calculations. Once the provisional equidistance line has been drawn, it will proceed to the second stage of the process, which consists of determining whether there are any relevant circumstances requiring adjustment of the provisional equidistance line; if so, it will make an adjustment that produces an equitable result. At the third and final stage in this process the Tribunal will check whether the line, as adjusted, results in any significant disproportion between the ratio of the respective coastal lengths and the ratio of the relevant maritime areas allocated to each Party.