The Netherlands to press on with taking Russia to sea tribunal

The Netherlands is to press ahead with taking Russia to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over the seizure of Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and the arrest of its 30-strong crew, foreign minister Frans Timmermans said on Monday evening.

Timmermans said he has asked the tribunal to make an interim judgement, releasing both the ship and its crew pending a definitive ruling.

The Netherlands started the arbitration process two weeks ago. ‘Everyone has the right to ask for a preliminary ruling after two weeks. The Russians are aware of this,’ Timmermans said.


Greenpeace welcomed the minister’s statement, saying it could lead to the crew’s early release. They currently face piracy charges.

The tribunal is based in Hamburg and the hearing will take place within two to three weeks, Nos television reported.

The tribunal’s role is to rule on issues affecting the sea and to end differences between countries over the application of the UN treaties. The tribunal has 21 independent judges and its current president is Shunji Yanai of Japan. The tribunal’s rulings are binding.

The Arctic Sunrise sails under the Dutch flag and two of the crew are Dutch nationals. The ship was seized by the Russian coastguard while protesting at Gazprom drilling in Arctic waters.

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