The “Arctic Sunrise” Case (Netherlands v. Russia)

Case No. 22 (2013)

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The “Arctic Sunrise” Case (Netherlands v. Russia)

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
Case No. 22 (2013)

Facts

In 2013, members of the environmental activist group Greenpeace aboard the ship Arctic Sunrise tried to occupy a Russian oil platform to protest Arctic oil pumping. The next day, Russia (defendant) seized Arctic Sunrise in international waters but still within the Russian exclusive economic zone. Arctic Sunrise, a ship under the flag of the Netherlands (plaintiff), was towed by Russian forces to a Russian port, and the 30 persons aboard—many of whom were Dutch nationals—were incarcerated. The Netherlands and Russia were parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the convention). However, Russia contended that it had expressly rejected any binding enforcement measures under the convention. The convention provided that a member nation may not board, investigate, arrest, or detain a vessel or its occupants without the permission of the vessel’s flag nation. However, the convention did not extend to military or law-enforcement operations exercising sovereign rights. The Netherlands sought redress under the convention before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (the tribunal), contending that Russia had breached its obligations under the convention. After finding that the tribunal had jurisdiction over Russia, the tribunal addressed whether Russia had breached the convention.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Golitsyn, J.)

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