A Tribunal Navigating Complex Waters: Implications of the Bay of Bengal Case
The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea's March 2012 Judgment in the Bay of Bengal Case is a landmark decision in multiple ways. It represents the first maritime boundary to be delimitated by the Tribunal. It is the first adjudication of a maritime boundary in Asia, and it is also the first judicial delimitation of a maritime boundary for parts of the extended continental shelf located seaward of the 200-nautical-mile limit from baselines. While the Tribunal's ruling largely resolves the maritime dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar, it also raises a number of questions and concerns that are highlighted in this article, including the Tribunal's approach to delimitation both within and beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit, the treatment of islands, the interplay between law of the sea institutions and the creation of a so-called grey area where continental shelf jurisdiction falls to one state and water column jurisdiction to the other.