International Law Studies


This article examines recent developments in the jurisprudence related to the delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles by analyzing the Mauritius/Maldives and Nicaragua v. Colombia cases. The ITLOS Special Chamber in Mauritius/Maldives did not delimit the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles due to applying the standard of “significant uncertainty.” In this regard, the scope of and criterion for the standard of “significant uncertainty” merit discussion. The ICJ, in Nicaragua v. Colombia, identified a rule of customary international law that the continental shelf of a State beyond 200 nautical miles may not extend within 200 nautical miles from the baselines of another State. While the holding is crucial, its reasoning needs further consideration. After an examination of the two cases, this article will conclude that despite the difference in the approaches taken by the ICJ and ITLOS Special Chamber, the legal consequence will remain the same: no effect shall be given to a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles that extends into the 200 nautical mile EEZ of another State.