| FNI NEWS
Øystein Jensen obtains PhD on Law of the
(10.06.2013) FNI Senior Research Fellow
Øystein Jensen has today successfully
defended his Ph.D. dissertation The Commission on the Limits of the
Continental Shelf: Law and Legitimacy.
- My doctoral thesis
focuses on law and legitimacy in relation to the
Commission on the
Limits of the Continental Shelf, Jensen explains. This process of
establishing these limits is not just a technical detail of international law,
but of great importance regarding the allocation of the world's sea-bed areas
and, thus, sea-bed resources.
thesis' first main part sets out to analyze the Commission as a decision-making
- I conclude that the Commission is not just an advisory
expert body composed of scientists. Its functions and competences are also of
eminently legal character. The Commission's main task is to interpret and apply
a treaty provision, of which some interpretative results also may be considered
as controversial. Furthermore, the Commission's "recommendations" to coastal
states produce significant legal effects. First, a coastal state seeking "final
and binding" outer limits must heed the Commission's recommendations to the
letter. Second, the recommendations also have legal effects as means of
interpretation under the rules of treaty
Decision-making behind closed doors
second main part of the thesis, Jensen analyzes the potential legitimacy
deficits in the composition and operation of the Commission. What is somewhat
remarkable is that the Law of the Sea Convention does not contain adequate
regulations concerning the Commission's procedures and composition, Jensen
- Examples include that the Commission's decisions cannot be
appealed; its members have no formal legal competence; and the proceedings are
essentially taking place behind closed doors, Jensen continues.
main finding of my study is therefore that in several aspects - from a
normative and comparative perspective of legitimacy - there is a significant
disparity between the Commission's functions and competence on the one hand,
and its procedures and composition on the other. The research carried out thus
also serves to illustrate - by using the example of the Commission on the
Limits of the Continental Shelf - what contemporary international law theory
considers to be dislocation of decision-making in the law among nations.
The Commission on
the Limits of the Continental Shelf:
The Commission is one of the
institutions established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of
It is composed of 21 experts in geology,
geophysics and hydrography.
According to article 76 of
the Convention, it shall be involved in the process of establishing the outer
limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from a coastal
today's doctoral defence (in Norwegian)
About Dr. Jensen
|The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an
independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental,
energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a
multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science,
economics, and international law.