By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International Law of the Sea
Caspian Sea Countries:
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan
Recently some of the high-ranking officials in the Caspian Sea littoral states (Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan) have indicated that the draft convention on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea is finalized and it may be ready for approval by the concerned states during their next summit conference. The reality is that the draft prepared after 50 meetings of the littoral states in the level of deputy foreign ministers contains nothing about the most important in the Caspian Sea: the criteria for division of the seabed and waters of the Caspian Sea. Failure of the Caspian states to reach agreement on this issue will most probably open the way for referring the case to international judicial or arbitration forums.
The Caspian Sea states have not found a commonly agreed formula for the legal regime of the Caspian Sea. However, there is a dominant view for adopting the system of modified median line (MML) for division of the Caspian seabed (using the length of shorelines) and living the superjacent waters for common use except for a short national territory. Russia and Kazakhstan had agreed in 1998, and Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in 2001 and Russia and Azerbaijan in 2003 to use this method. Iran and Turkmenistan were opposed to it, however in 2014 Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agreed on the same formula. Iran, according to this formula, will get the smallest portion of the Caspian Sea, meaning around 13 percent of the Caspian Sea. For the same reason Iran has been insisting on division of the Caspian on the basis of equity (as a principle of the international law) and it believes, this means giving 20 percent to each. Also, Iran wants to divide the entire Caspian (seabed and waters). At the moment, there are no signs of any change in these positions. At the same time, no other Caspian state has even taken the positions of Iran serious.
Referring the case to international forums needs agreement of the related states. However, some of the littoral states have indicated that they may ask the United Nations Security Council to look into the issue as matter that threatens peace in the region and therefore send the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Despite the fact that Iran and Russia were the only states in the Caspian shores for a very long period of time (having a kind of historical rights), if this happens (the case is referred to international judicial or arbitration forums through agreement or intervention of the UN) Iran will be is a bad situation for the following reasons:
... Payvand News - 09/17/17 ... --