Territorial Sea


Author: Ayushi Ranade, Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla


Sea is a giant physique of water that is surrounded by using the land. It is an essential phase of human alternate and commerce, voyage, mineral extraction, strength technology, and is additionally viewed as a vital source of the blue economic system nowadays.

International regulation of the sea is that section of public global regulation that regulates the rights and responsibilities of States and different topics of global law, concerning the use and utilization of the seas in peacetime It is uncommon from the personal maritime regulation that regulates the rights and duties of personal individuals concerning maritime matters, e.g., the carriage of items and maritime insurance plan Law of the sea used to be developed as section of the regulation of countries in the 17th century with the emergence of the present-day countrywide State machine. The seas of the world have traditionally performed two key roles: firstly, as a potential of communication, and secondly, as a large reservoir of each dwelling and non-living herbal resources. Both of these roles have stimulated the improvement of criminal guidelines. No department of worldwide regulation has passed through extra radical adjustments at some stage in the previous 4 many years than has the regulation of the sea and maritime highways. Law of the sea is worried about the public order at sea and a good deal of this regulation is codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In the worldwide jurisdictions, disputes can also often be arisen amongst the neighboring coastal States involving the delimitation of maritime boundary, exploitation of minerals or herbal resources, the fee of any crime in the territorial boundary of some other State, etc. These disputes are typically resolved with the aid of the worldwide courts or tribunals on the groundwork of complaints filed through the parties involved following the policies of worldwide regulation of the sea or following the precedents as a pivotal supply of global law. This article is about these regulations of worldwide law normally referred to as “the regulation of the sea” and is meant as a beginning factor for lookup on the regulation of the sea. This lookup work mainly offers the broader vicinity of the sea regulation that naturally entails consideration of things normally of the baseline, inland waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), excessive sea and continental shelf.

 International Law of the Sea: Legal and Institutional Framework

It must now not be sensible to presume that the regulation of the sea is to be determined solely in one place; instead, the current regulation is a combination of generic global regulation and treaty law, each bilateral and multilateral.

  • The Four Geneva Conventions on Territorial Waters and Contiguous Zone, 1958

In this convention 4 multilateral conventions masking several components on the regulation of the sea have been adopted: 1) Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone; 2) Convention on the High Seas; 3) Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources; and 4) Convention on the Continental Shelf. All these conventions are in force, although in many components they have been outdated by using the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which is generally of customary application, i.e., it is now not limited to one precise factor of the regulation of the sea. For non-parties to the 1982 Convention and for these things on which the 1982 Convention is silent, the 1958 Conventions will proceed to govern the family members of States that have ratified them. For States that are neither party to the 1982 Convention nor the 1958 Conventions, the applicable regulation is the standard.

  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, 1982)

The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea constitutes a complete codification and improvement of present-day worldwide regulation governing the sea in time of peace. The UNCLOS, additionally known as the Law of the Sea Convention, is a world settlement that resulted from the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took vicinity between 1973 and 1982. This treaty is viewed to be the “constitution of the oceans” and represents the result of an unprecedented, and so ways by no means replicated, an effort at codification and modern improvement of global law. Maritime jurisdiction is now ruled in general with the aid of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The complete 1982 Convention that changed the 1958 4 conventions on the regulation of the sea consists of 320 articles and 9 annexure used to be concluded in 1982. The UNCLOS is supposed to govern the use of oceans for fishing, shipping, exploration, navigating and mining and it is the most entire treaty in public worldwide regulation that covers a variety of regulation of the sea topics, e.g. delimitation of maritime boundaries, maritime zones, marine surroundings protection, marine scientific research, piracy and so on. The larger section of the convention, containing the extra substantial regulations therein enunciated plenty the preceding regulation was once thereby changed; show up now to command the consensus of the world community.

 Salient Features: The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982

A cautious listing of the principal noticeable provisions of the Convention, focusing on those, introduces adjustments or new standards in the regular regulation of the sea would appear to consist of the elements:

a) The most width of the territorial sea is constant at 12 nautical  miles and that of the contiguous region at 24 miles;

b) A “transit passage” regime for straits used for global navigation is established;

c) States consisting of archipelagos, furnished sure prerequisites are satisfied, can be viewed as “archipelagic States”, the outermost islands being related by using “archipelagic baselines” so that the waters inner these strains are archipelagic waters;

d) A 200-mile distinct financial sector along with the seabed and the water column, can also be mounted through coastal States in which such States workout sovereign rights and jurisdiction on all resource-related activities;

e) Other States revel in in the distinct monetary area excessive seas freedoms of navigation, over flight, laying of cables and pipelines and different internationally lawful makes use of the sea related with these freedoms;

f) A rule of mutual “due regard” applies to make sure compatibility between the exercising of the rights of the coastal states and of these of different states in the specific financial zone;

g) The thought of the continental shelf has been confirmed, although with newly described exterior limits;

h) The International Seabed Authority being the “machinery” entrusted with the supervision and legislation of exploration and exploitation of the resources;

i) A collection of very special provisions deal with the safety of the marine surroundings placing out universal concepts and regulations about competence for law-making and enforcement as nicely as on safeguards;

j) Detailed provisions regarding marine scientific research, based totally on the precept of consent of the coastal State, consent which ought to be the norm for pure lookup and discretionary for resource-oriented research;

k) The ocean backside past countrywide jurisdiction is proclaimed to be the “Common Heritage of the Mankind”

Bilateral/Multilateral Treaties or Customary International Law

Besides the above stated two necessary global instruments, the typical worldwide regulation and different bilateral or multilateral agreements are additionally the outstanding supply of worldwide regulation of the sea. Regarding the usual inter countrywide law, it is already stated that the 1958 and 1982 UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea have contributed a lot to the improvement of the universal international laws. There may also be different guidelines of usual worldwide regulation that may additionally no longer exactly be mirrored in any traditional textual content nor owe their foundation to incorporation in such a text. These as with all general rules bind States in an everyday manner.

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

After the entry into the pressure of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on sixteenth November 1994 robust efforts had been made for the institution of an International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). In August 1996, 21 Judges of the Tribunal had been elected on the foundation of “equitable geographical distribution”. The ITLOS is an intergovernmental business enterprise created with the aid of the mandate of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. It was once set up by way of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on tenth December 1982. The ITLOS used to be at the end installed on twenty-first October 1996 of which jurisdiction is now not obligatory and is elective or primarily based on the consent of the States. The Tribunal consists of 21 members, elected from amongst the best recognition of equity and integrity, and an identified competence in the discipline of the regulation of the sea. The Tribunal is located in Germany, set up a world framework for regulation over “all ocean space, its makes use of and resources”. The Tribunal is open to all the country events to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

 UNCLOS: Various Jurisdictions of the Maritime Zones

Under each the Geneva Convention on Territorial Sea, 1958 and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 there are following seven maritime areas over which the States can exercising their jurisdiction:

1) Base Line;

2) Inland waters;

3) Territorial Sea;

4) Contiguous Zone;

5) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ);

6) High Seas; and

7) Continental shelf.

 The Territorial Sea

The doctrine of the territorial sea has historically been viewed as based upon the precept laid down via the Dutch Jurist Bynker shoek in his dissertation in 1702 that a state’s sovereignty prolonged as a long way out to sea as a frequent shot would attain and the three-mile restrict has historically been represented as the truly tough equal of the most varied of a cannon shot in the 18th century. The territorial sea is the closest maritime region adjoining to the land territory of states. The territorial sea types a simple phase of the land territory to which it is bound, so that a cession of land will robotically consist of any band of territorial waters.

Legal Position of the Coastal State

Ordinarily, the states claimed solely three miles of the territorial sea until the Sixties and there was once no uniformity in the countrywide jurisdictions of the territorial sea. The 1982 Convention has put to relaxation all various width of the territorial sea. According to article 1 of the 1958 Convention, the sovereignty of a country extends past its land territory and inner waters, to a belt of sea adjoining to its coast. As per article 2(1) of the 1982 UN Convention, the sovereignty of a coastal country extends, past its land territory and inner waters and, in the case of an archipelagic state, its archipelagic waters, to an adjoining belt of sea, described as the territorial sea. This sovereignty extends to the air area over the territorial sea as nicely as to its mattress and subsoil (Article two (2), 1982). The sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised difficulty to this Convention and different guidelines of worldwide regulation (Article two (3), 1982). According to article three of the 1982 Convention, each State has the proper to set up the breadth of its territorial sea up to a restriction no longer exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines decided following this Convention. The width of the territorial sea is described from the low water mark around the coasts of the nation In the region of the territorial sea, the coastal country shall have its special jurisdiction. But the different states shall experience a fantastic proper named as “right of harmless passage”.

Right of Innocent Passage: Explanation of the Idea

Article 17 of the 1982 Convention offers the proper of innocent passage of states and gives that, problem to this Convention, ships of all States, whether or not coastal or land-locked, experience the proper of innocent passage via the territorial sea. The 1982 Convention additionally consists of provisions related to the which means of ‘passage’ which in its article 18 (1) states that passage capability navigation through the territorial sea for the reason of a) traversing that sea barring coming into internal waters or calling at a roadstead or port facility backyard inside waters; or b) proceeding to or from interior waters or a name at such roadstead or port facility. Passage shall be non-stop and expeditious. The passage consists of stopping and anchoring, however solely in so a long way as the equal is incidental to regular navigation or are rendered imperative via pressure Majeure or distress or for the cause of rendering help to persons, ships or plane in hazard or misery (Article 18 (2)). Conversely, article 19 (1) offers the which means of ‘innocent passage’ and accordingly states that passage is harmless so long as it is no longer prejudicial to the peace, proper order or protection of the coastal State. Such passage shall take location in conformity with this Convention and with different policies of worldwide law. The proper to innocent passage shall no greater continue to be innocent if the peace and protection of the territorial sea of the coastal kingdom are hampered through any act of the overseas vessel (Article 19 (2) (a) – (i), 1982).

  • Obligations of the Coastal State

The coastal kingdom has some responsibilities concerning the harmless passage underneath the 1982 Convention. For instance, the coastal nation shall enact essential legislations involving the proper to the harmless passage (Article 21 (1) – (4), 1982). That is to say, the duty to make certain the protection of harmless passage lies upon the coastal country (Article 22 (1)). Again, article 25 offers the rights or safety of the coastal State which states in its sub-article (1) that, the coastal State may additionally take the quintessential steps in its territorial sea to stop passage which is now not innocent. The coastal State may, except discrimination in structure or truth amongst overseas ships, droop briefly in precise areas of its territorial sea, the harmless passage of overseas ships if such suspension is indispensable for the safety of its security, inclusive of weapons exercises. Such suspension shall take impact solely after having been duly posted (Article 25 (3)).

  • Coastal States’ Criminal Jurisdiction:

Vessels in Innocent Passage Article 27 offers with the provisions concerning the crook jurisdiction onboard an overseas ship and offers in its sub-article (1) that, the crook jurisdiction of the coastal State must now not be exercised on board an overseas ship passing via the territorial sea to arrest any man or woman or to habits any investigation in connection with any crime dedicated onboard the ship at some stage in its passage, shop solely in the following cases: a) If the penalties of the crime prolong to the coastal State; b) If the crime is of a sort to disturb the peace or the top order of the territorial sea; c) If the help of the nearby authorities has been requested utilizing the grasp of the ship or by using a diplomatic agent or consular officer of the flag State; or d) If such measures are fundamental for the suppression of illicit site visitors in narcotic tablets or psychotropic substances. The above provisions do no longer affect the proper of the coastal State to take any steps licensed through its legal guidelines for the cause of an arrest onboard an overseas ship passing through the territorial sea after leaving inside waters (Article 27 (2), 1982). In thinking about whether or not or in what manner an arrest has to be made, the nearby authorities shall have due regard to the pursuits of navigation (Article 27 (4)).

  • Civil Jurisdiction of the of the Coastal State over the Vessels in Innocent Passage

Article 28 of the 1982 Convention offers with the civil jurisdiction of the coastal kingdom concerning overseas ships which states as follows:

1) The coastal State has to no longer quit or diverts an overseas ship passing through the territorial sea for the reason of exercising civil jurisdiction concerning a character on board the ship.

2) The coastal State might also now not levy execution in opposition to or arrest the ship for the reason of any civil proceedings, store solely in appreciate of tasks or liabilities assumed or incurred through the ship itself in the direction or for the reason of its voyage via the waters of the coastal State

3)  Besides prejudice to the proper of the coastal State, following its laws, to levy execution in opposition to or to arrest, for the motive of any civil proceedings, overseas ship mendacity in the territorial sea, or passing through the territorial sea after leaving interior waters.

  • ⮚      Provisions Regarding War Ships and Other Non-Trading Ships

Article 30 offers with the provisions related to non-compliance via warships with the legal guidelines and guidelines of the coastal State and displays that, if any warship does now not comply with the laws and rules of the coastal State regarding passage thru the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may additionally require it to depart the territorial sea immediately. According to article 31, the flag State shall undergo international duty for any loss or injury to the coastal State ensuing from the non-compliance through a warship or different authorities ship operated for non-commercial functions with the legal guidelines and guidelines of the coastal State regarding passage thru the territorial sea or with the provisions of this Convention or different regulations of worldwide law. The duty to preserve the innocent passage is usually of the coastal state.

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