(The following press release from Greenpeace was received by e-mail. The
sender verified the statement.)
*Netherlands pushes demand to release the Arctic 30 and ship –
Greenpeace International welcomes move*
21 October 2013 (Amsterdam) — The Dutch government has lodged a rare
application at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
(ITLOS), asking it to order the immediate release of the Greenpeace ship
Arctic Sunrise and all those who were aboard for the peaceful protest
against Gazprom’s Arctic oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya.
If ITLOS rules in favour of the Netherlands, the 28 Greenpeace
International activists, freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and
freelance videographer Kieron Bryan could go home while they await
confirmation of a Russian court date.
The Dutch authorities initiated an arbitration case against Russia on
October 4, and are calling for ITLOS to indicate ‘provisional measures’
pending the outcome of that arbitration. (1) ITLOS is an independent
judicial body located in Hamburg, Germany, established to resolve
disputes about the interpretation and application of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Requesting ITLOS to indicate ‘provisional measures’ is an unusual step
for a government to take and one Greenpeace International welcomes.
“Greenpeace applauds the Dutch government for taking these very
important steps,” said Greenpeace International General Counsel, Jasper
Teulings. “However, it will likely take about four weeks before the
Tribunal announces the verdict. Greenpeace International calls on all
governments involved to step up their work to ensure the immediate
release of the detainees.”
The Netherlands has never launched a case at ITLOS before and has done
so now as the Arctic Sunrise is a Dutch flagged ship. The legal argument
presented by the Netherlands will remain unknown until case documents
become public, probably at the start of hearings. A likely argument is
that the Russian Federation violated the right to freedom of navigation
by boarding the vessel in Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (and
clearly outside of Russia's territorial waters), in contravention of the
Since the inception of ITLOS in 1996, 21 cases have been submitted to
the Tribunal, and of those, four related to provisional measures.
(2) The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea introduced the concept
of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), placing large parts of the ocean
that had previously belonged to the high seas under a degree of national
sovereignty, but at the same time guaranteeing continued freedom of
navigation through these waters (see Article 58, paragraph 1). The
Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was boarded in Russia’s EEZ, outside of
the safety zone declared around Prirazlomnaya. The Convention permits
boarding in very limited cases, that are clearly not applicable. The
Russian Federation has never publicly stated on what legal basis it
seized the ship.
Independent legal experts’ opinions on the boarding and seizure of the
Arctic Sunrise and her passengers:
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