Lebanon's Southern Maritime Boundaries: Analysis of Factual and Legal Factors

Lebanon International Petroleum Exploration

Conference Program 2012

In Summary, it could be argued that Lebanon has a stronger position than Israel in relying on an equidistant line in the absence of an agreement with Israel. This position is made stronger by the fact that Israel's northern hydrocarbon blocks respect what seems to be the median line. 

However, lebanon cannot claim that the median line drawn based on equidistance principles should be final maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel, UNCLOS does not specify that maritime boundaries should be delimited according to a particular method and that even in the case of the territorial sea, states are merely prohibited from extending their clams beyond a median line failing agreement between them to the contrary (Prescott and Schofield - the maritime boundaries of the world - p235). Other prominent opinons rely on ICJ precedence to argue that the equidistance rule is merely a method and does not have the status of a legal rule. In North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands - 1967), the ICJ decided that the equidistance/special circumstances method had practical convenience  and certainty of application; however this was not enough to convert the method into a principle of law (Nathalie Klein, Dispute Settlement in the UN Convention on the Law  of the Sea - page237).

Therefore, although the Lebanese legal postion is relatively strong in comparison with the Israeli position, it cannot be confirmed yet whether the equidistance method would produce an equitable final maritime boundary. Indeed, assessment of any relevant circumstances would be required as needed to comply with Article 74 of UNCLOS to reach an equitable solution.

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