The delimitation of the continental shelf is often regarded as one of the most controversial inter-State delimitation disputes due to the significant advantages it can offer to coastal States. Since the conception of the continental shelf regime, i.e., the 1945 Truman Proclamation, equitable considerations have been central to the delimitation of this zone, which has been consistently reflected in the jurisprudence and in UNCLOS.
As an umbrella instrument with a framework character, UNCLOS usually suffices to stipulate the fundamental norms and principles. This was also the case for the delimitation of the continental shelf. Article 83, whilst not prescribing a specific delimitation method, sets out the ultimate objective as the achievement of an equitable solution. Hence, this requires a proactive role for international courts and tribunals in developing appropriate approaches and methods.
The relevant case law recognizes that the equitable principles doctrine stands as a fundamental norm of international law. However, the exact application of equitable considerations is yet to be further refined. In light of the foregoing, this article aims to explore the role of equitable considerations in the delimitation of the continental shelf process.