I will call this paper The Isla de Aves story due to the bizarre happenings in the last few centuries regarding this tiny island in the Caribbean. Formally it is an island under Venezuelan domain. There have been many disputes and minor conflicts, even international conflicts, around the island.
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All parties involved were sensible enough to keep arms and wars out of it. The problems concerning the island changed throughout the centuries, as new eras brought new headaches to the issue. In this paper the various conflicts with Aves Island shall be explored under the question of which role international arbitration has played in the conflict so far. Indeed, international aspects of Aves Island seem to be the only constant in the history of “The Isla de Aves story”. The question why it’s so important can be answered easily. International boarders and boundaries made an ever changing set of ‘actors’ in the Aves spectacle. UNCLOS proceedings brought together new neighbours, in most cases unwillingly. Exclusive economic zone is one major key phrase of this paper, as the modern quarrels are due to the extension of the EEZ after UNCLOS proceedings in the United Nations. The – with some exceptions – worldwide ratification caused already settled boarder conflicts to rise again, or let new disputes arise. Even armed conflicts were fought in the aftermath of it. Most interestingly for this paper is the fact, that Venezuela, who insist on the 200 mile exclusive economic zone around Aves Island, didn’t even sign the UNCLOS treaties! With the refusal in mind a first glimpse of how confusing and furthermore absurd the argumentation in the disputes is. Thus said, it is clear that the extension of sea boarders up to 200 nautical miles brought problems in sea-demarcation, especially in island cases and additionally, when former colonial and imperial powers retreat and leave a power vacuum. In the case of the Caribbean, where Dutch, English, French and Spanish settlements can be found, the question of who would be the legitimate successor is difficult to sort. One part of this paper will examine to what extent colonial powers settled the conflict regarding Aves Island and what role international arbitration plays in the conflict until today. Compared to similar conflicts in other parts of the world, which were taken to the International Court of Justice, in the Isla de Aves story the parties involved try to sort out the conflict without applying to the International Court of Justice. Especially the island state Dominica will be examined, as it is the only remaining party questioning sovereignty rights of Venezuela, because according to the island officials, Dominica would be the legitimate successor to Spanish rule. Innumerable cases like the Aves Island are treated there since its establishment in 1945.
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