LAW OF THE SEA

AUTHOR: Shivam Srivastava,

4th year law student,

Ideal institute of Management & Technology(School of Law)

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

FIRST AND SECOND UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON LAW OF THE SEA

On February 21, 1957, the General Assembly adopted a resolution for convening a conference on the Law of The Sea. In 1958, Conference was held in Geneva to consider a number of drafts prepared by International Law Commission. Conference was attended by 82 states.

It adopted Four Conventions:-

  1. Convention the territorial sea and contiguous zone.
  2. Convention on High Seas.
  3. Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources, and
  4. Convention on the Continental Shelf.

Now, to resolve some specific issues, second conference on the Law of the Seas was held in Geneva in the year 1960, but it failed due to different class of the states.

CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA, 1982

In the Eleventh Session, on Apr. 30, 1982, the Conference adopted the draft on the convention on the Law of the Sea by an overwhelming majority of 130 states.

It was also decided that convention would be signed at Jamaica on Dec. 10, 1982. And 117 states signed the convention on the day.

TERRITORIAL SEA (Formerly called the Territorial Waters)

It may be defined as that part of the sea which is adjacent to the coast over which International Law permits the coastal states to exercise sovereignty subject to a general right if innocent passage on the part of foreign shipping.

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The possession of this territory is neither optional nor dependent upon the will of the State, but Compulsory.

Two important aspects are involved in the concept of Territorial Sea:

BREADTH OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA

Although, it has been generally accepted that States exercise Sovereignty over Territorial Waters, controversy arises as to its breadth. Customary International Law does not prescribe any definite rule in this regard. The extent of the Territorial Jurisdiction was based on the ‘Common Shot Rule’.

The concept of the Territorial Sea being 3 Nautical Miles in breadth endured until the middle of twentieth century.

RIGHTS OF THE STATES OVER TERRITORIAL SEA

Although the coastal state exercise sovereignty over the territorial sea, certain rights are also exercised by other states. Rights of Coastal State as well as other States are as follows:

Rights of Coastal States

They have complete dominion over their Territorial Sea except that the Right if Innocent Passage & of Transit by Vessels of all nations.

They may enact laws and regulations, especially in regard to Transport and Navigation. And, Foreign Ships exercising their right of innocent passage should comply such laws and regulations.

Also, Right to take necessary steps to prevent passage which is not innocent.

Rights of the Other States

It is customary rule of International Law that the Territorial Sea is open to Merchant Vessels of all the states for navigation. Such vessels have a right of innocent passage through the territorial sea of a state.

CONTIGUOUS ZONE

Contiguous Zone is that part of the sea which is beyond and adjacent to Territorial Waters of the Coastal State. The Coastal State does not exercise sovereignty over this part of the sea. However, they Amy take appropriate actions to protect its revenue and like matters. In other words, police and revenue jurisdiction of the coastal states extend to the contiguous zone.

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CONTINGENT SHELF

The concept of the Continental is mainly correlated with the exploitation of Natural Resources became technically possible.

Definition and Outer Limit of Continental Shelf:

Geologically, continental shelf may be define as “the zone around the continent extending from the low water line to the depth at which there is usually a marked increase of declivity to greater depth.”

The continental shelf, continental slope and the continental rise together are known as the continental margin.

EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE

The Exclusive Economic Zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the Territorial Sea extending up to 200 nautical miles seaward from the breadth of the Territorial Sea is measured. [Art.57 of U.N. Charter]

Also, the outer limit of Exclusive Economic Zone shall be shown in the chart of a scale which shall be given due publicity by the coastal states. The continental shelf sometimes covers the area of Exclusive Economic Zone. It follows that there can be a continental shelf where there is no Exclusive Economic Zone but there cannot be an Exclusive Economic Zone without a corresponding continental shelf. And therefore, the two institutions, i.e. Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone are linked together.

RIGHTS OF COASTAL STATE OVER EEZ

In the Exclusive Economic Zone, the coastal states have ‘sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources.

Other activities for the exploitation and exploration of the zone, such production of energy from water current and winds may also be carried out therein.

Also, Coastal states have jurisdiction with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installation and structures, marine scientific research and over the protection and preservation of marine environment.

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HIGH SEAS

Under the customary rule of International Law, High Seas were free and open to all states. “Freedom of the High Seas” was a well-recognised principle which means that the High Seas being common to all States, not state may purport to subject any part of them to its territorial sovereignty.

Since, the open sea is not the territory of any State, no State a right to exercise its legislation, administration, jurisdiction or police over parts of the High Seas.

Limitation on the Freedom of the High Seas-

The Freedom if High Seas of the States may be exercised by the States. However, the above rule is subject to certain restrictions and limitations which of course is of a complex nature.

Convention of 1982 – Article 87(2) lays down the limitation of the General Nature on the Freedom of the High Seas. That the Freedom of the Seas “shall be exercised with due regard for the interests of other states in their exercise of the freedom of the High Seas.”

 

 

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