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Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)

The Philippine Senate and House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 2699 on 27 January 2009 and House Bill 3216 on 02 February 2009 respectively, claiming parts of the Spratlys Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, as well as Scarborough Shoal, also known as Huangyan Island both located in the South China Sea. Following the passage of the Bill, the Philippine "Navy" threatened to increase its military presence on Thitu Island. Based on the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regulations, if China or other states make objection to the Philippines' definition of the limits to its continental shelf, the submission will not be approved by the CLCS.

The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) set 13 May 2009 as the deadline for coastal states to submit their claims to the United Nations defining extended continental shelf limits. The purpose of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (the Commission or CLCS) is to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, under article 76, paragraph 8, of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The fixed points comprising the line of the outer limits of the continental shelf on the seabed either shall not exceed 350 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, or shall not exceed 100 nautical miles from the 2,500 meter isobath, which is a line connecting the depth of 2,500 meters. The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf. The limits of the shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.

The CLCS consists of 21 members, elected by those States that are party to the Convention. Experts in geology, geophysics, or hydrography, members of the CLCS serve in a personal capacity. They examine coastal States' ECS submissions and make recommendations to the submitting States. If the coastal State establishes its ECS limits "on the basis of" CLCS recommendations, those limits are "final and binding." The CLCS has no mandate to settle boundary disputes, nor can it make any decisions that will bias future resolution of such disputes. Any boundary disagreements must be resolved between the States themselves.

Submissions are due in 2009 or within ten years of a State's becoming a party, whichever is later. Many states that were parties to the convention in 1999 are finally focusing on the deadline for filing offshore jurisdictional expansion claim submissions on maritime territory as provided under the 1982 Convention. Only eight claims had been made as of late 2007, although about 50 coastal states are bound by the 13 May 2009 deadline for submissions ten years from their date of acceding to the Convention.



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