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Malcolm D Evans

This chapter explores how international law has responded to the increasing complexity of the uses of maritime space, focusing particularly on recent trends and developments. It considers the nature of the sovereign rights which States exercise over both space and living and non-living resources, and the extent to which control may be exercised over other users of the seas. It provides an introduction to the basic rules concerning the principal zones of maritime jurisdiction and looks at the rules for the construction of baselines and the problem of determining boundaries where claims to zones overlap. It also considers trends in governance over fisheries and over the deep seabed. While the law of the sea has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last 50 years, much more needs to be done to balance the competing demands of access to ocean space whilst recognizing the need to preserve order and good governance.


Disputes concerning title to land territory, including islands, and over the precise determination of boundaries are regularly the subject of international proceedings. While the occupation of territory not belonging to any state (terra nullius) is no longer a live issue, issues concerning such occupation in the past may still arise. This chapter discusses the following, the ‘modes’ of acquisition, displacement of title, territorial disputes, and territorial sovereignty and peremptory norms.