عنوان مقاله [English]
* The opinions and interpretations adopted in this article are exclusively attributable to the author and in no way represent formal positions of I.R.I. on Iran’s Un-delimited Maritime Boundaries in Persian Gulf.
Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) pertains to the Regime Islands. While Article 121, paragraph (1) defines the term ‘Island’, paragraph 2 prescribes that an island belonging to a coastal state is entitled to the same maritime zones as the mainland, namely: the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. Paragraph (3) of Article 121, however, makes an exception to the rule stated in paragraph (2) and deprives “[r]ocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own” from having an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf and thus cannot affect the delimitation of these maritime zones. But many ambiguities in the text of Article 121(3) have created many questions and controversies among legal scholars. The 2016 South China Sea arbitration award marked a turning point in the discussions on Article 121(3), insofar as it provided a comprehensive interpretation of this paragraph. This paper intends to address the following question: given the interpretation of Article 121(3) of UNCLOS in the South China Sea arbitration award, what is the exact meaning of this paragraph? Addressing this question is especially necessary due to the fact that some of the islands relevant to the maritime delimitation between Iran and Kuwait as well as Iran and the UAE may be covered by Article 121(3). The findings of this study suggest that the South China Sea tribunal’s interpretation of Article 121(3), particularly as regards the terms “human habitation” and “economic life of its own”, will deprive many islands of an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf. Yet, regardless of how the tribunal’s findings are evaluated, it would seem that this interpretation can benefit Iran in its maritime delimitations with Kuwait and the UAE.