Publication Title

AJIL Unbound

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



In “Judicialization of the Sea: Bargaining in the Shadow of UNCLOS,” Sara Mitchell and Andrew Owsiak make an important contribution to the literature that considers if and how international courts influence the behavior of states beyond the process of adjudication. Their analysis shows that states that declare an Article 287 choice for dispute resolution when signing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are more likely to solve their conflicts in peaceful ways, compared to signatories who do not, suggesting this relationship is not epiphenomenal. Their finding provides us with yet another piece of the puzzle in understanding how legalization and judicialization shape the behavior of states. We still, however, have much to learn about how states interact with legalization and adjudication. This essay argues that while the article's statistical analysis adds to the evidence that judicialization influences state behavior, the uniqueness of UNCLOS makes it doubtful that we can replicate this finding for other international courts and tribunals. In addition, while the statistical analysis suggests that states that make Article 287 declarations behave differently in the face of maritime conflict, we do not really know why states made the choice to declare a preference for adjudication. Finally, given that states strongly prefer negotiations to using UNCLOS formal adjudication mechanisms, we need to understand better the path to adjudication or arbitration.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright Note

This is the publisher's version of the work.

Required Publisher's Statement

© Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir, 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The American Society of International Law. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.