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Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea

The Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea is a treaty signed at the Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan, on 12 August 2018 by the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan.[1]

Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea
SignedAugust 12, 2018 (2018-08-12)
LocationAktau, Kazakhstan


The dispute began after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, as the Soviet Union (and subsequently Russia) and Iran were respecting mutual 1921 and 1940 treaties. However, according to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, these treaties did not address the exploitation of the seabed, thus a new UNCLOS treaty is necessary.[2]

Due to the presence of numerous oil fields on the seabed of the Caspian Sea the question of legal status was very important; some countries even tried to develop fields in disputed regions, almost causing military incidents.[3]

In order to elaborate a Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, a special working group at the level of deputy foreign ministers was established in 1996 by the Caspian states. The agreement of the document lasted more than 20 years before its signing on 12 August 2018 by the heads of five Caspian states at the summit in Kazakhstan. During the years of approval of the convention (1996–2018) between the parties were held 51 meetings of the special working groups, more than ten meetings of foreign ministers and four presidential summits in 2002 in Ashgabat, in 2007 in Tehran, in 2010 in Baku and in 2014 in Astrakhan.



  1. ^ ‘Milestone event’: Five states sign historic deal on status of Caspian Sea
  2. ^ Abilov, Shamkhal (2013-01-01). "LEGAL STATUS OF THE CASPIAN". Hazar Raporu/Caspian Report.
  3. ^ Auyezov, Olzhas (2018-08-12). "Russia, Iran, and three others agree Caspian status, but not borders". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-08-13.