CLCS is not a mediation venue but a agency empowered to make binding scientific rulings on nation state claims under UNCLOS article 76
The international body responsible for claims submitted to extend a state’s EEZ based on the continental shelf, is the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).29 For a state to make a claim to this committee, it must be a ratified signatory to the UNCLOS, and must make any claims within 10 years of ratification.30 The CLCS has itself come under criticism. Most notably, excessive CLCS confidentiality rules leave states unclear as to the Commission’s rationale for its recommendations regarding a submitted claim.31 A key point of clarification is required here. The CLCS’ role is to make recommendations to the states as to whether their claims fully meet the criterion set out in UNCLOS article 76, and are fully backed by adequate scientific data. These ‘recommendations’ are more than they seem, however. States that make claims to the CLCS agree that the recommendations shall be final and binding, giving the CLCS’ recommendations the de facto status of rulings. What the CLCS is not, is an arbitration body that has any mandate to settle conflicting or overlapping claims, unless the disputing parties jointly request it.32 In spite of these criticisms, the stakes are sufficiently high to have prompted Arctic coastal states such as Russia, Canada and Denmark to embark on undersea mapping expeditions to bolster current and future continental shelf submissions to the CLCS.