The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World

The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World

The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World

The Maritime Political Boundaries of the World


"This book addresses the often vexed question of national maritime claims and the delimitation of international maritime boundaries. The number of undelimited international maritime boundaries is much larger than the number of agreed lines. The two boundaries that define the marine domain of coastal states are examined." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Prior to World War II state jurisdiction rarely extended more than three nautical miles [nm] offshore. The delimitation of maritime boundaries between states, confined in scope to such a relatively narrow band of inshore waters, was therefore generally an infrequent and uncontroversial process.

The marked increase in maritime space coming under the jurisdiction of coastal states in the post-war period, coupled with similarly significant changes in the diversity and intensity of offshore activities, radically transformed the nature of maritime boundary negotiations, enhancing both their complexity and importance. Clearly, the extension of coastal states' sovereignty seawards has generated the potential for many new maritime boundaries and a host of overlapping jurisdictional claims and offshore boundary disputes. This latter point is amply illustrated by the incomplete nature of the maritime political map of the world. Of more than 400 potential maritime boundaries, only about 160 have been formally agreed (Charney and Alexander, 1993 and 1998).

The delimitation of maritime areas between two or more states is governed by the principles and rules of public international law. In this context it is clear that geographical factors, and in particular coastal geography, are fundamental to international law as it pertains to maritime boundary delimitation (see Chapter 10). This is true, whether a boundary dispute is resolved by negotiation between the parties or submitted to third party settlement. Nevertheless, there is a significant distinction in character between these types of dispute settlement (see Chapter 11).

In a resolution by negotiation, states are free to agree to any boundary they want provided that the rights and interests of third states, or of the international community, are not prejudiced. Nevertheless, international law generally provides the context within which negotiations take place.

Where agreement cannot be reached, customary international law largely reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereafter referred to simply as the UN Convention will apply (United Nations, 1983). While this does not mean that states are obliged to settle their maritime differences or to submit such differences to adjudication or other means of third party . . .

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