Last week, the states parties to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) held elections for seven of the 21 seats on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Here are the results:
Among those seven members, Judge Wolfrum (Germany), Judge Akl(Lebanon), Judge Marotta Rangel (Brazil), Judge Chandrasekhara Rao (India) and Judge Jesus (Cape Verde) were re-elected and Mr Bouguetaia (Algeria) and Mr Golitsyn (Russian Federation) were newly elected by the States Parties. The biographies of the judges who were re-elected are available on the website of the Tribunal and those of Mr Bouguetaia and Mr Golitsyn may be found in document SPLOS/173 which is available on the website of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations at www.un.org/Depts/los.
Now, if ITLOS could just get some work to occupy the judges’ time. Assuming compulsory dispute settlement is warranted, UNCLOS states parties can select arbitration or the ICJ in lieu of ITLOS to hear their law of the sea-related disputes. Although ITLOS has great digs (paid for by the German government and the City of Hamburg, and given to ITLOS rent-free), states seem to have a strong aversion to utilizing the tribunal for such cases. At present, ITLOS has ONE pending case—between Chile and the European Community over swordfish stocks in the South-Eastern Pacific Ocean. That case, however, isn’t giving the tribunal much to do, seeing as it’s on hiatus through January 1, 2009 as the parties try and negotiate their own compromise. Since the first 21 judges were elected in 1996, ITLOS has heard 15 cases, so the current situation is not all that surprising. But with a 2007-2008 budget of over 17 million euros, I’ve got to wonder how long the Tribunal can sustain such a nominal case-load.