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Italian Marines, “Very solid arguments” / Q&A

Sergio Maria Carbone is Professor Emeritus of International and Maritime Law.

di Simone Gallotti

Genoa - Is Italy’s strategy the right one?
“It certainly is, this step should have been taken first if Italy wanted to achieve a timely measure that would protect Italy’s position: this was long overdue. Without a solution obtained through negotiations, this was the only possibility to obtain a measure that would make it possible to impose Italian jurisdiction over the sailors.”

How many chances does Italy have to obtain a favourable decision?
“It is difficult to make predictions when it comes to the judicial system and especially the international judicial system in which the political component plays an important role. In any case, I believe that there are strong arguments in favour of the Italian position: it is based on specifically codified principles of international law that have been respected for some time.”

How binding is the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s decision?
“The decision is binding if there is a ruling that contains specific obligations. The most delicate question is which measures should be adopted to make the execution of the injunction effective. In any case, the acts occurred in international waters and specifically in an anti-piracy capacity. The actions taken by the sailors can therefore be considered appropriate and suitable to preventing a very serious crime condemned by all States; all the more so as those actions were taken in exercising Italy’s sovereign functions.”

But could the Hague arbitration overturn the injunction from the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea?
“No, it cannot be overturned even if at the end of the arbitration some assessments and rulings of the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea are contradicted. A preventive measure will come from the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the context of the ITLOS’s own competency. Arbitration is a parallel pathway, the timeframes for arbitration are longer and it is intended to definitively resolve the controversy. Any decisions made by the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will take effect immediately.”