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Cover International Law Concentrate

8. The law of the sea  

The law of the sea governs the relations of States in respect of the uses of the seas. It allocates competences between, on the one hand, coastal States wishing to extend their jurisdictional reach as far as possible and the flag States, on the other, wishing to have the seas open for vessels to navigate and for other uses. The chapter discusses the laws applicable to each maritime zone; namely, internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the high seas, and the seabed. It also sets out the rules of maritime delimitation between States with opposite or adjacent coastlines.


Cover Cassese's International Law

5. The Spatial Dimensions of State Activities  

Paola Gaeta, Jorge E. Viñuales, and Salvatore Zappalà

This chapter begins with an examination of the related concepts of sovereignty, competence, and jurisdiction. It then discusses the international law governing territory, sea, the international seabed, and the concept of common heritage of mankind, air, and outer space. In traditional international law the physical dimension of State activity was regulated in fairly simple terms. The earth, portions of the sea, and the air were divided up into areas subject to the sovereign authority of States. The only exception to this partition was the high seas, which—since the seventeenth century—were subject to the principle that they were a thing belonging to everybody (res communis omnium): every State could sail its ships or use the high seas’ resources as it pleased, as long as it did not hamper their free use by other States. However, a nationalist, self-centred approach has displaced community interests and any idea of solidarity or joint utilization of resources.


Cover International Law

18. The law of the sea  

This chapter explores the law of the sea. The ‘law of the sea’ is a blanket term, describing the law relating to all bodies of water, irrespective of whether they are subject to the jurisdiction of a State. Naturally, the seas are tremendously important globally; the seas are a crucial means of communication and trade, allowing for the transport of persons and goods around the world. The seas and their subsoil are also a valuable economic resource. However, the law of the sea is also important for its significant contributions to public international law. The law of the sea governs a series of overlapping sovereign interests and projections of jurisdiction. The basic concept is that the sea is divided into two broad categories: territorial sea and high seas. The exact line between these two has been at the heart of more than four centuries of legal developments and disputes.