Discretionary Power of Coastal States and the Control of Its Compliance with International Law by International Tribunals

  • Erietta Scalieri


This paper deals with the control by international courts and tribunals of the exercise of the coastal State’s discretionary power. The notion of discretionary power which was initially developed in administrative law is also used in international law and refers primarily to the manner in which the competences of the State—in particular certain powers and competences of the coastal State—are exercised. Limitations to such control derive from the nature of the discretionary power of the coastal State. This article examines, in the light of recent jurisprudence, the extent of the judicial control with respect to disputes involving the discretion of the coastal State, the exercise of judicial restraint, as well as the standards applied by the judge. The analysis further focuses on the procedural limitations to judicial control provided in the UNCLOS, particularly in article 297. This provision excludes from the compulsory procedures of Part XV of UNCLOS certain disputes involving the exercise of sovereign rights of the coastal States. It is through judicial and arbitral practice that some important aspects have been and can be further clarified, especially regarding the scope of the limitation and its procedural aspects.


  1. Allen S (2017) Article 297 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the scope of mandatory jurisdiction. Ocean Dev Int Law 47:313–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cannizzaro E (2002) Pouvoirs discrétionnaires des Etats et proportionnalité dans le droit de la mer. Revue générale de droit international public 106:241–268Google Scholar
  3. Cannone A (2015) L’ordinanza del Tribunale internazionale del diritto del mare sulla vicenda della Enrica Lexie. Rivista di diritto internazionale 98:1144–1154Google Scholar
  4. Casado Raigón R (2000) Règlement des différends. In: Vignes D et al (eds) Le droit international de la pêche maritime. Bruylant, Bruxelles, pp 316–365Google Scholar
  5. Chapus R (1999) Droit administratif général, 13th edn. LGDJ, ParisGoogle Scholar
  6. Corten O (1997) L’utilisation du raisonnable par le juge international. Bruylant, BruxellesGoogle Scholar
  7. Cot J-P (2007) Les fonctions du raisonnable dans la jurisprudence du Tribunal international du droit de la mer. In: Droit du pouvoir, pouvoir du droit. Mélanges offerts à Jean Salmon. Bruylant, Bruxelles, pp 271–290Google Scholar
  8. Garcia-Revillo MG (2015) The contentious and advisory jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Brill Nijhoff, LeidenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gautier P (2014) The settlement of disputes. In: Attard D (ed) The IMLI manual of international maritime law, vol I. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 533–576Google Scholar
  10. Jovanovic S (1988) Restriction des compétences discrétionnaires des Etats en droit international. Pédone, ParisGoogle Scholar
  11. Karaman I (2012) Dispute resolution in the law of the sea. Martinus Nijhoff, LeidenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kolb R (2017) Good faith in international law. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Lauterpacht H (1958) The development of international law by the International Court. Stevens, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Nordquist M (1993) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: a commentary, vol 2. Martinus Nijhoff, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  15. Noto MC (2016) Arctic Sunrise arbitration and acts of protest at sea. Marit Saf Secur Law J 2:36–56Google Scholar
  16. Orrego Vicuña F (1986) La zone économique exclusive: régime et nature juridique dans le droit international. Recueil des cours 199:9–170Google Scholar
  17. Oude Elferink A (1999) The impact of article 7(2) of the Fish Stocks Agreement on the Formulation of Conservation and Management Measures for Straddling Stocks and Highly Migratory Stocks.
  18. Oxman B (2015) Courts and tribunals: the ICJ, ITLOS, and arbitral tribunals. In: Rothwell D, Oude Elferink A, Scott K, Stephens T (eds) The Oxford handbook of the law of the sea. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 394–415Google Scholar
  19. Riphagen W (1983) The settlement of disputes. In: Rozakis C, Stephanou C (eds) The new law of the sea. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 281–301Google Scholar
  20. Ros N (2017) La gouvernance des mers et des océans, entre mythes et réalités juridiques. Journal du Droit International 144:757–812Google Scholar
  21. Salmon J (1981) Le concept de raisonnable en droit international public. In: Mélanges offerts à Paul Reuter. Le droit international: unité et diversité. Pédone, Paris, pp 447–478Google Scholar
  22. Scalieris E (2011) L’exercice du pouvoir discrétionnaire de l’Etat côtier en droit de la mer. Pédone, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Serdy A (2017) Part XV. Settlement of disputes. Section 3. Limitations and exceptions to applicability of section 2. In: Proelss A (ed) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: a commentary. C.H. Beck/München/Hart, Oxford, pp 1906–1936Google Scholar
  24. Shany Y (2005) Toward a general margin of appreciation doctrine in international law? Eur J Int Law 16:907–940CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stribis I (2009) La manifestation des lacunes en droit international. Académie d’Athènes, AthènesGoogle Scholar
  26. Talmon S (2016) The Chagos Marine Protected Area arbitration: expansion of the jurisdiction of UNCLOS part XV courts and tribunals. Int Comp Law Q 65:927–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Treves T (1983) Le principe de consentement et recherché scientifique dans le nouveau droit de la mer. In: Bardonnet D, Virally M (eds) Le nouveau droit de la mer. Pédone, Paris, pp 269–285Google Scholar
  28. Treves T (1999) Conflicts between the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice. N Y Univ J Int Law Polit 31:809–821Google Scholar
  29. Treves T (2001) The jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. In: Chandrasekhara Rao P, Khan R (eds) The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea: law and practice. Brill Nijhoff, Leiden, pp 111–131Google Scholar
  30. Trevisanut S (2017) Twenty years of prompt release of vessels: admissibility, jurisdiction and recent trends. Ocean Dev Int Law 48:300–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Virzo R (2017) The dispute concerning the Enrica Lexie incident and the role of international tribunals in provisional measure proceedings instituted pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In: Crawford J (ed) The international legal order: current needs and possible responses. Essays in honour of Djamchid Momtaz. Brill Nijhoff, Leiden, pp 519–532Google Scholar
  32. Wolfrum R, Matz N (2000) The interplay of UNCLOS and the CBD. Max Planck Yearb U N Law 4:445–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erietta Scalieri
    • 1
  1. 1.Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Legal DepartmentAthensGreece

Personalised recommendations