Russia and Netherlands seem set on a diplomatic standoff on the recent detention of a ship used by Greenpeace International and its 30 crew members of various nationalities who attempted to stage a protest against the offshore ice-resistant fixed platform 'Prirazlomnaya' in the Barents Sea. Netherlands has approached the United Nations-backed International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, requesting provisional measures - for the Greenpeace International ship, "Arctic Sunrise" which flies the Netherlands flag - to allow the vessel to be re-supplied, leave its place of detention and exercise freedom of navigation.
Netherlands alleges that Russian coastguard boarded the "Arctic Sunrise" on Sept 19 and brought it to the port of Murmansk Oblast. The Greenpeace ship was then detained and its 30 crew members of various nationalities arrested. Russia has now initiated judicial proceedings against those arrested.
Claiming that the arrest and detention took place in violation of provisions of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea; Netherlands initiated arbitral proceedings against Russia. They requested for provisional measures to be prescribed against Russia, but the proceedings under the convention are still pending as of the moment.
In its request, Netherlands asked the Tribunal to direct Russia to immediately allow the "Arctic Sunrise" to be re-supplied and released from its place of detention, enabling it to exercise its freedom of navigation and leave Russian maritime jurisdiction.
Netherlands also requested the Tribunal to direct Russia to free the crew members of the "Arctic Sunrise" and allow them to leave its territory. Netherlands also wants Russia to suspend all judicial and administrative proceedings against the arrested crew members. It calls on Russia not to initiate any proceedings in connection to the incident which might aggravate or extend the dispute further.
The Tribunal established under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea which was adopted in 1992; is located in Hamburg, Germany. It has been instituted to deal with disputes and conflicts arising from the application of the provisions of the Convention.
Called the "constitution of the oceans", the provisions of the Convention govern all facets of maritime issues and looks into the settlement of international disputes on the seas.
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