Focus: GS-II International Relations, Prelims

Why in news?

  • UNCLOS tribunal ruled that the Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen in the waters off Kerala on February 2021, held “immunity” and would face a trial in Italy, not India.
  • However, UNCLOS Tribunal found merit in India’s counter-claim that the marines on board “Enrica Lexie” had violated the freedom of navigation rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by shooting at fishing boat.
  • Hence, it also ruled that Italy should pay compensation to the victims’ families, the boat owner and crew members.

What had happened?

  • The marines had claimed they mistook the fishermen for “pirates” and that the shooting occurred in international waters.
  • Italy had invoked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) court in 2015 criticizing the Indian government for detaining the marines without charging them, and of causing their health to deteriorate during the period of delay.

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

  • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.
  • The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea.
  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, and over all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the international agreement defining the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
  • UNCLOS replaces the older ‘freedom of the seas’ concept, dating from the 17th century: national rights were limited to a specified belt of water extending from a nation’s coastlines according to the ‘cannon shot’ rule.
  • All waters beyond national boundaries were considered international waters: free to all nations, but belonging to none of them.

-Source: The Hindu

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