The continental shelf and the legal regime of the seabed and subsoil of the Caspian Sea Legal Issues

The continental shelf and the legal regime of the seabed and subsoil of the Caspian Sea

International Institute of Khazar Studies (IIKSS) – the division of the seabed and its benefits has always been one of the main challenges of the three countries of the southern margin of the Caspian Sea. The most important factors contributing to this challenge are: 1- the movement of borders since 1820 according to Turkmenchay and Gulistan treaties, 2- the concavity of the coast in the Iranian part or U-shape of the coast and the location of each country in its mouths, 3- lack of the equal coast length, 4- lack of similar coast curvature, and 5- and most importantly, the lack of the uniform continental shelf (the width of the continental shelf, the slopes of the continental shelf and the deep areas).

Therefore, it is necessary to analyze, interpret, and conclude a mutually accepted agreement in order to minimize the present problems in order to minimize, so that all parties can achieve maximum benefits and at the same time, minimum loss. In this framework, a procedure that can be considered is that the interests of the parties in the field of seabed are arranged in such a way that the adjustment of the interests of one side is evaluated with taking into account the losses that come to the other side.

So one should study and eventually analyze the geological and geomorphological realities of seabed and subsoil in such a way that a reasonable share of the continental shelf is allocated to parties. The meaning and concept of this statement is that the division of the seabed and subsoil based on objective and principles related to sea surface and the use of terms such as the Base Line of the territorial sea cannot necessarily be considered sufficient to reach a consensus. 

Because geological studies have proven that several complexities have been observed in geological layers of the Caspian region, which, in fact, have not led to the same analysis of the experts in this field. Therefore, until the issues of geopolitical complexities of the Caspian region and the nature of the existing shelves in this region are solved, there can be little hope of solving the legal problems between the parties in this region. Because, from a legal point of view, the major part of the issues related to the continental shelf depends on geological reality of that shelf or its adjacent shelves.

Author - Maysam Araee Daronkola - member of the faculty of the University Payame Noor and the director of the International Institute of Khazar Sea Studies (IIKSS), PhD of public international law

Translator: Mohsen Hamidi - expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, translator of Russian language and member of the Scientific Council of the International Institute of Khazar Sea Studies (IIKSS)

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