An Analysis of the UNCLOS

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Analysis of the UNCLOS

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is also known as the UNCLOS, puts forward a wide-ranging regime of rules and regulations for the world’s seas and oceans establishing a set of laws leading all uses of the oceans and its resources. It enshrines the conception that all inconvenience and issues of ocean space are intimately interconnected and required to be looked upon as a whole. The Convention was initially opened for signature on the 10th December 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This manifested the conclusion of more than 14 years of effort concerning participation by more than 150 countries signifying all regions of the globe, all political and legal systems and the range of socio/economic development. At the time when it was adopted, the Convention personified in one instrument customary regulations for the uses of the oceans and at the same time came up with new legal regimes and concepts related to contemporary issues. The Convention also provides structure for advanced progress of specific domains of the law of the sea. The Convention came into force with reference to its Article 308 on the 16th November 1994, 12 months subsequent to the date of set down of the 16th instrument of accession or ratification. At present, it is a worldwide documented regime concerning with all issues and affairs which are related to the law of the sea. The UNCLOS consists of 320 articles and 9 annexes, covering all possible aspects of ocean space, such as environmental control, delimitation, economic and commercial activities, the settlement of disputes related to the issues of oceans/seas, marine scientific research and transfer of technology. Some of the most significant aspects or features of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea are:

  • The coastal states put into effect sovereignty over their territorial sea on which they possess the right to set up its breadth up to a limit of 12 (twelve) nautical miles. However, foreign vessels are sanctioned “innocent passage” through the territorial water bodies.
  • Aircraft and Ships of all states are permitted for transit passage via straits used for global steering. Nonetheless, States adjacent the straits can control navigational and other features of the passage.
  • The archipelagic states, formed up of a set or sets of intimately connected islands and interconnected waters, possess sovereignty over a sea area covered by straight lines strained between the furthest points of the islands. Nevertheless, the water bodies connecting the islands are acknowledged as archipelagic waters where States may set up sea air and lanes routes in which all other States benefit from the right of archipelagic passage via such elected sea lanes;
  • Coastal States get to enjoy sovereignty rights in a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, which is also known as EEZ, with regard to natural resources and definite economic actions, and put into effect jurisdiction over environmental protection and marine science research.
  • Rest all States have the liberty of over flight and navigation in the EEZ, as well as lack of restrictions to put down pipelines and submarine cables.
  • Geographically underprivileged States or the landlocked states have the right to take part in a reasonable foundation in the utilization of a suitable portion of the excess of the living resources of the EEZ’s of coastal States of the similar area or sub-region. As a matter of fact, extremely migratory kinds of marine mammals and fishes are provided with special protection;
  • The coastal states also have sovereignty rights over the continental shelf, which is the national region of the seabed, for utilizing and exploring it. The shelf may expand at least 200 nautical miles from the shore, and even more under particular conditions.
  • Coastal States contribute with the international neighbourhood a portion of the income gained from exploiting resources from any fraction of their shelf further than 200 miles.
  • The Commission on the restrictions of the Continental Shelf could form recommendations to States on the outer boundaries of the shelf when it stretches away from 200 miles.
  • All States get to enjoy the customary liberties of scientific research, over flight, navigation and fishing on the high seas. In addition, they are appreciative to take on, or assist with other States in taking on, ways to conserve and manage living resources.
  • The confines of the territorial sea, continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the islands are strong-minded according to the regulations valid on the land territory, however, rocks which could not maintain human habitat or economic existence of their own would have no continental shelf or economic zone.
  • States adjacent to covered or semi-enclosed seas are supposed to assist in overseeing environmental and research policies and activities and the living resources.
  • States which are landlocked have the right of way in to and from the sea and have the benefit of lack of restrictions of transportation from side to side the territory of transit countries.

Edited by Dhruval 

Quality Check – Ankita Jha

Approved & Published by – Sakshi Raje

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