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THE LAW OF THE SEA

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The Law of the Sea
Selected Writings

by

BUDISLAV VUKAS
Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

MARTINUS NIJHOFF PUBLISHERS


LEIDEN / BOSTON
A C.I.P. Catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN 90-04-13863-3

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Since 1962, Budislav Vukas, Professor of Public International Law at the University
of Zagreb Faculty of Law, has written extensively on the Law of the Sea. Naturally, the
majority of these writings are in his mother tongue – Croatian. However, scholars
belonging to small nations are obliged to write in foreign languages as well. Professor
Vukas has published in various countries, in English, French and Italian.
Thanks to Mrs. Annebeth Rosenboom from Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, and the
Zagreb Faculty of Law, Professor Vukas is now in the position to publish a selection
of his writings in English and French. He thanks the publishers of the publications in
which his writings were first published for their kind permission to reprint them in this
collection.
These 20 essays are now republished as initially written. They therefore reflect the
development of the author’s views as well as the evolution of the law of the sea itself
since the beginning of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
Only writings from reviews and books and one of the studies that he submitted to
the United Nations Environment Programme, have been included in this collection. It
does not include Professor Vukas’s judicial opinions written in his present capacity as
judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
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CONTENTS

Acknowledgements v

I Introduction 1
1 The Definition of the Law of the Sea 3

II Sources of the Law of the Sea 11


2 The Impact of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea
on Customary Law 13
3 Generally Accepted International Rules and Standards 25
4 Possible Role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in
Interpretation and Progressive Development of the Law of the Sea 39

III Relation of the Law of the Sea to Other Fields of International Law 49
5 The Law of the Sea Convention and the Law of Treaties 51
6 Droit de la mer et droits de l’homme 71

IV Delimitation of Maritime Areas 81


7 The LOS Convention and Sea Boundary Delimitation 83

V Natural Resources of the Sea 111


8 The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the
Protection of the Living Resources of the Sea 113
9 Common Heritage of Mankind: A Legal Concept for the Survival of
Humanity 125

VI Navigation 131
10 The New Law of the Sea and Navigation: A View from the Mediterranean 133

VII Military Uses of the Sea 155


11 L’utilisation pacifique de la mer, dénucléarisation et désarmement 157

VIII Protection of the Marine Environment 205


12 International Law and the Pollution of the Sea 207
13 Provisions of the Draft Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the
Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment and the UNEP’s
Involvement in their Implementation 229
viii THE LAW OF THE SEA

IX Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Seas 261


14 Enclosed and Semi-Enclosed Seas 263
15 The Mediterranean: An Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Sea? 281

X Settlement of Disputes 291


16 Le choix des procédés prévus par l’article 287 de la Convention de 1982 sur
le droit de la mer 293
17 Main Features of Courts and Tribunals Dealing with the Law of the Sea
Cases 297
18 The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea: Some Features of the New
International Judicial Institution 301
19 Règlement du Tribunal international du droit de la mer – questions choisies 317
20 Décisions ex aequo et bono et différends relatifs au droit de la mer 327

Index 335
I – INTRODUCTION
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Chapter 1

THE DEFINITION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA*

In selecting the subject of my contribution to this Festschrift in honour of Judge Shigeru


Oda, I wanted to find a topic that would be related to the most important aspects of Judge
Oda’s activities – his highest reputation for expertise in the field of the law of the sea
and his outstanding achievements as a Member of the International Court of Justice. I
therefore decided to discuss the notion and definition of the law of the sea, in view of
the fact that the jurisdiction of some international tribunals has been limited to disputes
concerning the law of the sea.

1. THE LAW OF THE SEA AND THE LAW OF NAVAL WARFARE

Classic textbooks on international law deal with the rules that form the various régimes
at sea in the framework of “the objects of international law”. For the rules on the uses
of the sea in times of peace they use the term “law of the sea”1 or “international law
of the sea”.2 They deal with naval warfare and maritime neutrality separately from the
“law of the sea”.
Nguyen Quoc, Daillier and Pellet deal with the various régimes at sea together with
other “international régimes of the spaces”, and define the law of the sea as “the amalgam
of legal régimes applicable to various spaces”.3
Although he deals with all the régimes at sea under the title “The Law of the Sea”,
Malcolm Shaw does not engage in defining this expression.4
A general characteristic of the textbooks on international law is their use of the term
“law of the sea” only for the rules on the uses of the sea in times of peace. The law of
naval warfare is treated separately, and is not covered by the expression “law of the sea”.
It is in this spirit that Vladimir Ibler defines the law of the sea as:

* First published in Liber Amicorum Judge Shigeru Oda (Nisuke Ando, Edward McWhinney, Rüdiger
Wolfrum, eds.), Volume 2, Kluwer Law International, The Hague/London/New York, 2002.
1 R. Jennings and A. Watts (eds.), Oppenheim’s International Law, Vol. I: Peace, 9th ed., 1992, Parts 2 to
4, 599 et seq.
2 J. Andrassy, Medunarodno pravo, 6th ed., 1976, 159 et seq., 576 et seq.
3 D. Nguyen Quoc, P. Daillier and A. Pellet, Droit International Public, 6th ed., 1999, 1102.
4 M. N. Shaw, International Law, 4th ed., 1997, Chap. 11, 390 et seq.
4 1 – THE DEFINITION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

“the part of international law containing norms on the delimitation of sea areas, their use and
the legal régime applicable to each of them, as well as the norms on the rights and duties of
States in respect of the uses of the sea”.5

However, I will always recall the first book on the law of the sea I consulted 40 years
ago, in which John Colombos regarded the international law of the sea as including not
only international law of the sea in times of peace, but also that part of international
law that deals with maritime neutrality and naval warfare.6
Even the International Law Commission, in presenting its 1956 Draft Articles on
the Law of the Sea, pointed out that their draft covered only one part of the law of the
sea: “The draft regulates the law of the sea in time of peace only”.7 As a consequence
thereof, the 1958 United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea dealt only with the
régimes and activities at sea in times of peace; it did not provide rules on the law of
the sea in times of war.
In listing the issues for the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS III), the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor
beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction left out not only the law of naval warfare,
but also the issues concerning disarmament and denuclearisation of the ocean space.8
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) does not
contain a definition of the law of the sea. In the Convention’s preamble, there is only
an indication of the goals the United Nations wanted to achieve by convening UNCLOS
III, which to a certain extent reflect the scope of the contents of the LOS Convention.
The States participating in UNCLOS III recognised the desirability of establishing
“a legal order for the seas and oceans which will facilitate international communication,
and will promote the peaceful uses of seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient
utilisation of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study,
protection and preservation of the marine environment” (fourth preambular paragraph).
The Convention contains not only provisions dealing directly with these activities, but
also the basic rules establishing the “legal order of the seas and oceans”, in the framework
of which it will be possible to achieve the mentioned goals.
In contemporary practice, this attitude of the United Nations has resulted in the use
of the term “law of the sea” only for the part of international law that regulates maritime

5 V. Ibler, Rječnik medunarodnog javnog prava, 2nd rev. ed., 1987, 170.
6 C. J. Colombos, The International Law of the Sea, 4th rev. ed., 1959, V and 7.
7 United Nations, Report of the International Law Commission covering the work of its Eighth Session, April
23-4 July 1956, GAOR: Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 9 (A/3159), 1956, 4.
8 As a consequence, the Law of the Sea Terminology (Terminology Bulletin No. 297/Rev. 1/Add. 1, UN
Doc. ST/CS/SER.F/297/Rev. 2 of 27 July 1976), prepared by the United Nations Secretariat Department
of Conference Services for the Law of the Sea Conference, does not contain titles, terms or expressions
dealing with naval warfare, such as belligerence, blockade, capture and neutrality.
I – INTRODUCTION 5

relations of States in times of peace. The comprehensive Handbook on the New Law
of the Sea, edited by René-Jean Dupuy and Daniel Vignes, devotes only ten pages, written
by Théodore Halkiopoulos, to “The Interference Between the New Law of the Sea and
the Law of War”, in which the author does not go further than indicating the link between
the two parts of international law concerning the seas and oceans:

“It is ... quite natural that these two sets of rules (the law of the sea in time of peace and the
law of armed conflicts at sea), which belong to the same juridical system, are by no means
separated by an impermeable wall; they co-exist and complement each other in order to attenuate
as much as possible the perturbation of the juridical order of the sea that is caused by an armed
conflict”.9

2. THE SCOPE OF THE LAW OF THE SEA IN TIMES OF PEACE

The law of the sea, as presented in the textbooks, consists of rules on various legal
régimes (territorial sea, contiguous zone, etc.) and on some major activities at sea (fishing,
protection of marine environment, etc.). However, not every such rule deals directly and
exclusively with the sea. Particularly in the treaties on the law of the sea, norms relating
to the sea are inevitably supplemented by rules on other, more “technical” issues of
international law, such as the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or
application of the treaties, the signing and ratifying the treaties, the functions of the
depositary, etc. As the LOS Convention also provides for the establishment of some
international institutions (the International Seabed Authority, the Commission on the
Limits of the Continental Shelf, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea), it
had to include many provisions regulating the composition and the work of these institu-
tions, the privileges and immunities of their members, etc.
For historical and other reasons, the LOS Convention and the law of the sea in general
also include some provisions belonging to other distinctive parts of international law.
Thus, for example, there are in the Convention some well-known rules on human rights.
States have the duty to take effective measures to prevent and punish the transport of
slaves in ships authorised to fly their flag (Article 99). Warships are justified in boarding
foreign ships on the high seas if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that they
are engaged in the slave trade (Article 110, paragraph 1(b)).
In regulating some major issues of the ocean space, the LOS Convention simul-
taneously deals with other spaces. Thus, for example, the Convention states that the
sovereignty of a coastal State “extends to the air space over the territorial sea” (Article 2,

9 T. Halkiopoulos, “The Interference Between the Rules of the New Law of the Sea and the Law of War”,
in: R.J. Dupuy and D. Vignes (eds.), A Handbook of the New Law of the Sea 2, Hague Academy of
International Law, 1991, 1321.
6 1 – THE DEFINITION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

paragraph 2), and that the rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf “do not
affect the legal status of the superjacent waters or of the air space above those waters”
(Article 78, paragraph 1). The Convention goes even further, granting to all aircraft the
right of transit passage in straits used for international navigation (Article 38, para-
graph 1), and the freedom of overflight in the exclusive economic zone (Article 58,
paragraph 1) and on the high seas (Article 87, paragraph l(b)). In order to prevent, reduce
and control the pollution of the marine environment from or through the atmosphere,
the Convention requires States to adopt laws and regulations applicable to the air space
under their sovereignty (Article 212, paragraph 1). The provisions on anadromous stocks
(Article 66) and catadromous species (Article 67) concern the treatment of these species
not only in sea waters, but also in the rivers of States Parties to the Convention.
As the sovereignty and jurisdiction of a coastal State over marine areas is based on
its sovereignty over its land territory, many of the law of the sea rules include references
to the land. Some of them, although relevant for the adjacent régimes at sea, require
reasoning from quite different disciplines. Thus, the LOS Convention contains a rule
according to which “[r]ocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life
of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf” (Article 121,
paragraph 3). In order to be able to interpret and apply this provision correctly, inter
alia, the following questions need to be answered: (a) What is the difference between
“rocks” and “islands”, which are the subject of the first two paragraphs of Article 121?
(b) What is the basis for the claim that a rock can or cannot sustain human habitation?
(c) Are there any fixed conditions for the conclusion that a rock can sustain economic
life of its own? None of these questions belong to the law of the sea, but they are relevant
for the right of the State to which the rocks belong to control some sea areas off the
coasts of such small islands. The relevance of those questions for the related law of the
sea problems can be compared with that of the land frontier between two coastal States
for the determination of the initial point for their sea boundary delimitation.
Article 121, paragraph 3, is not the only provision which requires consideration of
issues concerning the land territory of coastal States. There are many provisions con-
cerning baselines for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea (Articles 5 to 14) which
require an evaluation of some facts on the coast: the presence of low-tide elevations or
installations similar to lighthouses (Article 7, paragraph 4); the existence of economic
interests peculiar to the region where the method of straight baselines is to be applied
(Article 7, paragraph 5), etc.
Related to the sea, but sometimes concerning distant land territories, are the provisions
on the right of access of land-locked States to and from the sea and freedom of transit.
These provisions, drafted in favour of land-locked States, impose duties not only on
coastal States, but even on transit States without a sea coast! Even for such non-coastal
transit States, the Convention regulates the freedom of transit of land-locked States
I – INTRODUCTION 7

(Article 125), including the problems of customs duties, taxes and other charges (Article
127).

3. THE LAW OF THE SEA AND MARITIME LAW

As a part of the system of public international law, the law of the sea is closely inter-
linked with all other segments of the system. It has also various links with some other
branches of law.
The extension beyond the traditional borders of public international law is particularly
evident in the LOS Convention, which contains an enormous quantity of rules on the
Area, which proved to be a rather hasty “progressive development” of international law
(Part XI and Annexes III and IV).
However, even in some traditional areas regulated in the LOS Convention there are
rules which stricto sensu do not belong to the law of the sea, but are closely related to
that part of international law. Thus, the rule according to which every State shall fix
the conditions for granting its nationality to ships (Article 91, paragraph 1) can be
considered as belonging to the law of the sea. Yet, many of the rules on the duties of
the State which has granted its nationality to a ship – the flag State – belong to maritime
law. Such as, inter alia, the duty of States to take such measures as are necessary with
regard ships flying their flag to ensure safety at sea with regard to the construction,
equipment and seaworthiness of ships, the manning of ships, labour conditions and the
training of crews, the use of signals, the maintenance of communications and prevention
of collisions (Article 94, paragraph 3).10
Many of the provisions on the protection and preservation of the marine environment
contained in Part XII are closely linked to international rules and standards belonging
to maritime law that have been adopted in the framework of the International Maritime
Organization, such as, for example, the provisions on the measures to prevent, reduce
and control pollution of the marine environment contained in Article 194.
Article 221, paragraph 1, permits States “to take and enforce measures beyond the
territorial sea ... to protect their coastline or related interests, including fishing, from
pollution or threat of pollution following upon a maritime casualty or acts relating to
such a casualty, which may reasonably be expected to result in major harmful con-
sequences”. This principle was adopted at UNCLOS III under the influence of the
International Convention relating to Intervention on the High Sea in Cases of Oil Pollution

10 Because of the close link between the “international law of the sea” and “maritime law”, Davorin Rudolf
suggested using the term “law of the sea” to cover both bodies of law dealing with the sea. D. Rudolf,
Enciklopedijski rječnik medunarodnog prava mora, 1989, 309.
8 1 – THE DEFINITION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

Casualties, adopted in Brussels on 29 November 1969, which contains more detailed


rules on the issue.11
According to the LOS Convention, States are responsible for the fulfilment of their
international obligations concerning the protection and preservation of the marine environ-
ment, and they are liable in accordance with international law (Article 235, paragraph 1).
This reference to international law in the case of civil liability for oil pollution damage
is to the principles and rules contained in the International Convention on Civil Liability
for Oil Pollution Damage (Brussels, 29 November 1969).12

4. COURTS AND TRIBUNALS DEALING WITH LAW OF THE SEA CASES

Four courts and tribunals have been entrusted with the “settlement of disputes concerning
the interpretation or application” of the LOS Convention: the International Tribunal for
the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, arbitral tribunals constituted in
accordance with Annex VII to the Convention, and special arbitral tribunals constituted
in accordance with Annex VIII (Article 287, paragraph 1). Notwithstanding the generally
identical competence of the four procedures, they differ amongst themselves in many
respects. The purpose of this diversity of procedures was to make it easier for States
Parties to submit their disputes to one of the compulsory procedures entailing binding
decisions. In dealing with these disputes, all the courts and tribunals listed in Article
287 apply the Convention itself “and other rules of international law not incompatible
with this Convention” (Article 293, paragraph 1).
However, the jurisdiction of various courts and tribunals differs ratione personae
and ratione materiae. While both types of arbitration and the International Tribunal for
the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) are also open to entities other than States Parties, only States
may be parties in cases before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In the context of this paper, special attention should be paid to the differences ratione
materiae. Notwithstanding the general competence of all the four courts and tribunals
to settle disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, only
the competence of arbitral tribunals (Annex VII) is determined solely by this provision
The competence of special arbitral tribunals is limited: they may deal only with disputes
concerning the interpretation or application of the articles of the Convention relative to:
“(1) fisheries. (2) protection and preservation of the marine environment, (3) marine
scientific research, or (4) navigation, including pollution from vessels and by dumping”
(Annex VIII, Article 1).

11 A. Ch. Kiss (ed.), Selected Multilateral Treaties in the Field of the Environment, 1983, 230 et seq.
12 Ibid., 235 et seq.
I – INTRODUCTION 9

The competence of ITLOS is also generally determined by Article 287, paragraph 1.


Therefore as well as arbitral tribunals (Annex VII, Article 1), ITLOS can deal with all
the disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. However,
its jurisdiction also comprises “all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement
which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal” (Annex VI, Article 21). Notwithstanding
the apparent latitude given to such agreements, the jurisdiction of ITLOS on the basis
of agreements conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal can include only disputes in the
field of the law of the sea. That is why it is important to be able to differentiate this
part of international law from other fields of public international law. The limitation of
ITLOS to disputes on the law of the sea is not only clear from its name, its competence
under the Convention and its Statute (Annex VI), but also from the required competence
of its members. In addition to having the “highest reputation for fairness and integrity”,
the members of ITLOS must be “of recognized competence in the field of the law of
the sea” (Annex VI, Article 2, paragraph 1).
The strict determination of a dispute as falling within the field of the law of the sea
is not relevant only for the ICJ. Of all the courts and tribunals listed in Article 287,
paragraph 1, of the LOS Convention, only the ICJ can deal with disputes involving issues
beyond the limits of the law of the sea, due to its general jurisdiction (Article 36, para-
graph 2, of the Court’s Statute). Therefore, for example, disputes concerning sea boundary
delimitation that involve the concurrent consideration of issues concerning sovereignty
or other rights over continental or insular land territory could be submitted to the ICJ,
but not to the other procedures mentioned. However, for dealing with a dispute involving
questions beyond the scope of the law of the sea, the jurisdiction of the Court should
be established on the basis of its Statute (Article 36). For such disputes, the Court’s
competence on the basis of the LOS Convention (Article 287) would not suffice.
The vague limits of the law of the sea will in the future probably cause dilemmas
with regard to the categorisation of some disputes as belonging to the law of the sea.
This paper has indicated some of the Convention’s provisions that provide grounds for
disputes not belonging to the law of the sea. Agreements concluded between the States
Parties to the Convention also allow for the submission to ITLOS of disputes not strictly
confined to the law of the sea. Some time ago, having scarce information concerning
a case brought before a human rights court, I wondered what my opinion might be
regarding the competence of ITLOS, had the dispute regarding alleged violations of
human rights in an armed conflict at sea been brought to that Tribunal.
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II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA
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Chapter 2

THE IMPACT OF THE THIRD UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE


ON THE LAW OF THE SEA ON CUSTOMARY LAW*

1. INTRODUCTION

The general problem of the interaction of the Third United Nations Conference on the
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), and its final product – the Convention on the Law of
the Sea – with customary law, represent a broader field of research than the topic assigned
to the author of this report. I have been entrusted with only one aspect of this reciprocal
relation: the influence of the Conference on customary law. The other side of the coin
– the impact of existing customary law on the work of the Conference and its outcome –
has had to be left out. At this stage of the development of the law of the sea, it would
be of great interest to analyse the role of customary law (as well as the impact of pre-
viously concluded treaties) on the content of the new overall Convention on the Law
of the Sea.1 On the other hand, at present, the theme given to me can be studied only
partially – we have no knowledge of the impact of the new Convention on the behaviour
of the members of the international community. For the time being, in dealing with our
topic, we only can take into account the influence of the eleven sessions of the Conference
and the content of the Convention emerging from those nine long years of work, not
the impact of the Convention as such, as a set of new conventional rules.

* First published in The New Law of the Sea, Selected and Edited Papers of the Athens Colloquium
on the Law of the Sea, September 1982 (Christos L. Rozakis and Constantine A. Stephanou, eds.),
North-Holland-Amsterdam-New York-Oxford 1983.
1 On the eve of the Conference, Stevenson, J.R. and Oxman B.H. wrote that the Conference had to take into
account, together with the results of the work of the U.N. Seabed Committee, “the four Conventions adopted
by the 1958 Conference on the Law of the Sea..., relevant decisions of the International Court of Justice,
the Declaration of Principles regarding the deep seabeds adopted by U.N. General Assembly in 1970; and
a vast array of official statements and scholarly writings regarding the nature and content of the existing
law of the sea”. Stevenson J.R. and Oxman, B.H. “The Preparations for the Law of the Sea Conference
68 American Journal of International Law, (1974) p. 1.
14 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

2. THE RELATION OF THE CONFERENCE TO THE EXISTING CUSTOMARY


LAW

Although I am to deal only with the impact of UNCLOS III on customary law, and not
vice versa, my analysis cannot completely avoid the relation of the Conference to pre-
viously existing customary law. Namely, in many instances the impact of the results of
the Conference on customary law will be strictly linked and dependent upon already
existing customary rules.
A basic indication of the nature of the relation of the new Convention to customary
law can be found in the seventh preambular paragraph to the Convention, where the States
participating in the Conference qualify the content of the Convention as ‘the codification
and progressive development of the law of the sea ...’. In accordance with these familiar
terms (Art. 13(1)(a)) of the U.N. Charter and their interpretation in Art. 15 of the Statute
of the International Law Commission, the qualification given by the drafters of the
Convention means that the Convention contains both rules which represent the more
precise formulation and systematization of existing customary law (codification) and new
rules of international law, regulating new topics, further developing or revising the existing
rules (progressive development).2
In relation to the notion of “codification”, mentioned as one of the achievements
embodied in the Convention (Preamble, para. 7), a few comments should be made. First
of all, in my opinion, there are few instances of genuine codification accomplished within
the framework of this Conference. This perhaps could be asserted of some principles
embodied in Part XII (Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment), where
provisions have been elaborated on the basis of previously concluded special conventions
and agreements, the 1972 Stockholm principles, States’ practice, etc., or, of the two
freedoms added to the regime of the high seas (freedom to construct artificial islands
and other installations and freedom of scientific research). It is an understatement if I
say that States, showed little interest in codifying the law of the sea at UNCLOS III.
On the contrary, they were eager to bargain about new rules, openly defending their
respective national interests in each particular topic and provision, and disregarding
existing international practice and rules, if any, unsuited to the protection of their own
particular interests.
The only real reason for mentioning “codification” in relation to the new Convention
on the Law of the Sea is the fact that the texts of three of the 1958 Geneva Conventions,
in which customary law had been codified, was taken over.3 But if we compare the 1958

2 See also: The Work of the International Law Commission, (third edition, United Nations 1980) pp. 11-12.
3 In the Preamble to the Convention on the High Seas it is said that its provisions are “generally declaratory
of established principles of international law”. Although there is no similar statement in regard to the
Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, it is generally admitted that the majority of
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 15

Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Convention on the High
Seas and the Convention on the Continental Shelf, with the corresponding parts of the
new Convention, we notice that only particular articles, and not integral regimes, have
been transferred unchanged to the new Convention. Not a single Part of the Convention
on the Law of the Sea has remained unchanged if compared with the 1958 codification.
The regime of the territorial sea has been elaborated in more detail, some problems have
been resolved with more clarity than before, and some old provisions have been amended.
Many fundamental changes have been inserted in the regime of the continental shelf
(definition, split regime in respect of exploitation and scientific research, delimitation).
The high seas regime has also been modified in many aspects, mostly because of the
establishment of the regime of the exclusive economic zone. Even the contiguous zone
has not retained all its 1958 characteristics: it no longer necessarily covers a zone of
the high seas contiguous to the territorial sea of the coastal state; there are no longer
provisions on the delimitation of contiguous zones of states opposite or adjacent to each
other; and a new topic – the protection of archaeological and historical objects – has
been introduced in connection with the contiguous zone.
In respect to those changes we have to stress that almost all of them have been
incorporated in the new Convention without taking into account a thorough analysis of
the changes in general customary law since the 1958 codification; they are the result
of legislative negotiations at UNCLOS III. Thus, although the new Convention on the
Law of the Sea contains the results of a previous codification, it is a pretence to speak
of the “codification” (Preamble, para. 7).
In discussing the relation of the new Convention to the previously existing law, there
were opinions expressed at the Conference that the new Convention should supersede
the 1958 Conventions erga omnes. The more usual and realistic solution prevailed; it
has been provided for that the law of the Sea Convention shall prevail over the 1958
Geneva Conventions only between states parties to the new Convention (Art. 311 (1)).
While this provision is strictly in accordance with international law rules concerning the
application of succesive treaties relating to the same subject-matter,4 the same cannot
be concluded for para. 2 of Art. 311, providing:

its provisions, or at least the basic principles, reflect existing customary law. (cf. Bouchez L.J., Some
Reflections on the Present and Future Law of the Sea, in: The Present State of International Law and Other
Essays Written in Honour of the Centenary Celebration of the International Law Association 1873-1973,
(1973) p. 144. The International Court of Justice confirmed that some of the basic articles (1-3) of the
Continental Shelf Convention reflect customary law (North Sea Continental Shelf Judgment I.C.J. Reports
1969, p. 39.)
4 Article 30 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
16 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

“This Convention shall not alter the rights and obligations of States Parties which arise from
other agreements compatible with this Convention and which do not affect the enjoyment by
other States Parties of their rights or the performance of their obligations under this Convention”.

The correct interpretation of this provision seems to be that the Convention shall alter
the rights and obligations of States Parties which arise from other agreements incompatible
with the new Convention and which do affect the enjoyment by other States Parties of
their rights or the performance of their obligations under this Convention. By altering
the rights and duties of States Parties to the Convention, the rights and duties of con-
tracting States to such other agreements which are not parties to the new Convention
could also be affected. That is why this rule is not in accordance with the principle pacta
tertiis nec nocent nec prosunt5 and it gives the impression that the drafters of the Law
of the Sea Convention wish to consider this instrument as a treaty of a higher rank than
other treaties in the field.
The rule on obligations under other conventions on the protection and preservation
of the marine environment would have the same effect of predominance of the Conven-
tion’s provisions (Art. 237(2):

“Specific obligations assumed by States under special conventions, with respect to the protection
and preservation of the marine environment, should be carried out in a manner consistent with
the general principles and objectives of this Convention”.

If our interpretation of the above provisions is correct, it is difficult to say now what
the consequence of these unusual and unclear rules will be upon the implementation of
the Convention and other agreements in the field of law of the sea.

3. THE CONVENTION AND THIRD STATES

Subject to the considerations in the preceding paragraph, the Law of the Sea Convention
is res inter alios acta for States and other entities which do not became party to it. Being
an international treaty, it will have legal effects for third parties only in as far as it reflects
customary international law. As has been already said, it is not our task to deal with the
problem of the Convention’s provisions being declaratory of general international law;
we have to study the impact of the Convention and the Conference itself on customary
law.

5 See B. Vukas, Relativno djelovanje medunarodnih ugovora (Relativity of International Treaties), (1975)
pp. 62-65.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 17

The phenomenon of rules set forth in a treaty becoming binding on third States as
customary rules of international law has been confirmed by scholarly writings, judicial
decisions and by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (Art. 38).6 The Inter-
national Court of Justice also confirmed the acceptability of such a development:

“There is no doubt that this process is a perfectly possible one and does from time to time occur:
it constitutes one of the recognized methods by which new rules of customary international
law may be formed”.7

In the Court’s opinion, in order to pass into the general corpus of international law, the
provision concerned should “be of a fundamentally norm-creating character such as could
be regarded as forming the basis of a general rule of law”.8 Besides that characteristic,
for such a translation of a conventional rule, the Court requires a demonstration of the
wide acceptance of the new rule, which can sometimes be expressed in only a short period
of time. It seems that in the Court’s view acceptance by the international community
would be manifested either by “a very widespread and representative participation in
the convention..., provided it included that of States whose interests were specially
affected”9 or when “State practice, including that of States whose interests are specially
affected, should have been both extensive and virtually uniform in the sense of the
provision invoked; – and should moreover have occured in such a way as to show a
general recognition that a rule of law or legal obligation is involved”.10
Because of the present status of the Convention, only one of the elements required
by the International Court of Justice – the possible “fundamentally norm-creating charac-
ter” of the Convention’s provisions – could now exist. As the other two elements – state
practice (particularly of states non-parties) and opinio juris sive necessitatis – are lacking,
the method explained by the Court could create customary rules in the years following
the signature and the entry into force of the Convention. However, we share the doubts
of R.R. Baxter concerning the independent value of the vague term “norm-creating
character”, when he said at the Hague Academy:

“It may be that the term ‘norm-creating’ is designed to evoke the familiar distinction between
traité-loi and traité-contrat. However, it is submitted, with all respect to the Court, that if a rule

6 Sohn L.B., Cases and Other Materials on World Law, (1950) p. 1008; Fitzmaurice, G. in: UN Doc. A/CN.4/
130, pp. 39 and 80-85; Baxter, R.R. “Treaties and Custom,” 129 Collected Courses of the Hague Academy
of International Law (1970), pp. 57-75; Marek, K. “Le problème des sources du droit international dans
l’arrêt sur le plateau continental de la mer du Nord”, 6 Revue Belge de Droit International, (1970) pp. 57
and 73.
7 North Sea Continental Shelf, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1969, p. 41.
8 Ibid., p. 42.
9 Ibid., p. 42.
10 Ibid., p. 43. See also Marek, K., op. cit., pp. 58-59.
18 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

does pass into customary international law, it is ‘norm-creating’ and that the result of the process
will therefore be decisive of the nature of the rule”.11

Without the possibility of applying the ‘norm-creating’ criterion prior to the State practice,
this notion is of little help in our endeavour to study the impact of the work of the
Conference and the Convention on customary law.

4. THE CONSEQUENCES FOR CUSTOMARY LAW

The adoption of conventional rules can have various consequences for customary law.
Conventional solutions can be the essence of the creation of customary rules in fields
not previously covered by customary law; can provoke the creation of new customary
provisions which replace existing ones; their influence may be the partial revision or
amplification of existing customary rules. In some instances of modification or
supplementation, it is hard to distinguish the establishment of new customary law from
mere codification.
Although the influence of a legislative international conference on the further develop-
ment of customary law is a continuous process, the intensity of which depends upon
the fate of its product – the international treaty, the impact of UNCLOS III has at this
very moment two distinct basic aspects: the influence already achieved, and the anticipa-
tion of the further impact of the adopted Convention. In this short report we shall deal
with both aspects simultaneously, discussing only the most significant examples of such
an impact; we cannot engage in a thorough systematic analysis of the impact of all the
new conventional solutions on customary law.
Taking into account the present stage of the Conference, and the present status of
the Convention, it is important that in support of the view that this Conference has already
influenced customary law, such authorities as the Special Representative of the Secretay-
General to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Bernardo Zuleta,
can be quoted. As early as 1980, he wrote:

“...this Conference is already exercising a significant impact on the development of the law
of the sea and is undoubtedly moulding the structure of the new maritime law. In this respect
the Conference is already reforming, so to speak, the law of the sea. This reform is particularly
evident in certain areas of the law. For instance, there seems to be general agreement at the
Conference on a breadth of twelve miles for the territorial sea and many members of the
international community hold that a 12-mile territorial sea now forms part of international
customary law.”12

11 Baxter, R.R., op. cit., p. 62. See also Marek, K., op. cit., p. 58.
12 Zuleta, B., “Introduction” 17 San Diego Law Review (1980), pp. 520-521.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 19

There are solid reasons for the conclusion that one of the main innovations in the law
of the sea agreed upon at UNCLOS III – the regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone –
already forms part of the corpus of customary law of the sea.13 There are several argu-
ments in support of such a conclusion.
More than eighty states throughout the world established an Exclusive Economic
Zone after the drafting of the basic principles of that regime at the Conference; these
principles are being copied in the majority of national laws on the economic zone.14
Some coastal states only proclaimed, temporarily, exclusive fishing zones, but also within
the 200 miles limit. Even the majority of States having a territorial sea extending to 200
miles do not claim more rights in this area than permitted by the Exclusive Economic
Zone regime.15 Specialized international agencies plan their activities taking into account
the existence of the regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone. For example the Food and
Agricultural Organization (FAO) elaborated a study on the necessary assistance for
developing States in the exploration and exploitation of their Exclusive Economic
Zones.16 Scholars from various States and representing different conceptions of the law
of the sea agree on the adoption of the Exclusive Economic Zone regime in general
international law.17
The establishment of that new regime in customary international law means that the
possible failure of the Convention in respect of its ratification or entry into force could
not have any bearing on its further existence as general law. Such a conclusion concerning
the regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone necessarily means that all the basic principles
constituting this regime are also part of customary law. Once we claim that the regime
of the economic zone has been adopted in customary law, that means that fundamental
norms concerning the rights and duties of coastal as well as other States do not depend
upon the number of ratifications of the law of the Sea Convention or on the attitude
towards that Convention of States non-parties. It should be more difficult to envisage
the position of the international community in regard to more detailed rules if the Conven-
tion did not enter into force or were accepted by only a small number of States. Would
an international court consider as obligatory upon third States the Convention’s provisions

13 Cf. Zuleta, B., op. cit., p. 521.


14 See: Department of Public Information, Press Section Reference Paper No. 18, A Guide to the New Law
of the Sea... and the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, (United Nations 1979) pp.
49-54; World Fisheries and the Law of the Sea, (FAO, 1980) p. 20.
15 Cf. Hudson, G., “Fishery and Economic Zones as Customary law, 17 San Diego Law Review (1980), pp.
678-679.
16 Programme d’assistance au developpement et a la gestion des peches dans les zones economiques, COF
I/81/4 Mars 1981.
17 On the basis of a thorough analysis of State practice Carolyn Hudson also reaches the conclusion that claims
to both fishery and economic zones satisfy the prerequisites for being considered customary law. However,
we cannot share her conclusion that the 1958 High Seas Convention is reconciliable with the concepts of
fishery and economic zones. Hudson, C., op. cit., pp. 672 and 688-689.
20 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

on the right of States with special characteristics (Art. 70) or the provisions on delimita-
tion of the Exclusive Economic Zone between States with opposite or adjacent coasts
(Art. 74)? We could argue yes or no.
The acceptance of the specific regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone at the Confer-
ence was possible due to the compromises reached in relation to the 12-mile breadth
of the territorial sea and the separation of the new regime from the high seas.
The establishment of the maximum breadth of the territorial sea as 12 nautical miles
at UNCLOS III cannot be considered a significant innovation in comparison with the
previous state of international practice. Although some States claimed territorial seas
up to 200 miles, and some maritime powers still defended the 3-mile rule, the majority
of coastal states extended their territorial seas up to 12 miles, basing their decision on
a wide interpretation of Art. 24(2) of the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial
Sea and the Contiguous Zone. Taking into account the adherence of States to the 12-mile
limit prior to, and especially after the compromise reached at the Conference, as well
as the linkage of the acceptance of that limit with the establishment of the Exclusive
Economic Zone regime, it is not presumptuous to claim that the 12-mile rule today forms
part of general, customary, international law.18
One consequence of the definite acceptance of the 12-mile territorial sea was the
elaboration of the transit passage regime for the majority of straits used for international
navigation where there exists no safe route through the high seas or the Exclusive
Economic Zone. For maritime powers, the replacement of the innocent passage regime
for straits with a more liberal regime was a sine qua non for their acceptance of the 12-
mile territorial sea. Thus, the establishment of the transit passage regime should be
considered part of a “package deal” also including the establishment of the Exclusive
Economic Zone and the 12-mile territorial sea. Nevertheless, in view of the opposition
of some States bordering straits to some elements (overflight) of that genuine innovation
in the law of the sea, it would be rather premature to claim that this new regime far straits
is applicable in respect of all States. Some sort of confirmation of the wide acceptance
of that regime by the international community, besides its adoption as part of an as yet
unratified treaty, would be necessary in order to reach the conclusion that ships enjoy
that regime in relation to all States.
Once we have expressed doubts in respect to the general application of such UNCLOS
achievements as the transit passage regime, it would be extremely difficult to claim that
other amendments or innovations in the law of the sea have already been transformed
into customary law. Who could claim that the unexpected decision to retain the contiguous
zone and to transfer it to another area of the sea is obligatory upon all States? Why should
the enchroachment upon the Common Heritage of Mankind in the form of the so-called

18 For the relevant data see in: Lucchini L., Voelckel, M. Les Etats et la mer, le nationalisme maritime, (Paris:
Documentation Française, 1978) pp. 236-238; See also Zuleta B., op. cit., p. 521.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 21

“Irish formula” for the extension of the continental shelf regime be binding upon States
Parties to the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention who decide not to ratify the new
Convention? Is the regime of islands (Art. 121), which many states were striving to amend
right up, to the end of the Conference negotiations, a customary regime?
Our answers to all these questions are negative. Less clear is the answer in relation
to archipelagic waters, where the new regime is based on the long-standing claims of
archipelagic States, with no opposition at the Conference.
Our hesitation in proclaiming UNCLOS solutions as customary law goes further and
applies also to minor changes in areas previously regulated by customary or conventional
law, unless they can be qualified as codification. For example, one might be tempted
to qualify the new provisions within the territorial sea regime as a more precise formula-
tion and systematization of existing customary law, and thus a codification. We wonder,
though, whether this could be claimed for example in relation to Art. 21, which specifies
subject-matters in respect of which the coastal State may or may not adopt laws and
regulations, or in relation to Art. 22 on sea lanes and traffic separation schemes? Many
of these changes or additions to the law existing prior to UNCLOS III await further
developments to confirm their applicability erqa omnes. The majority of them are
reasonable rules, based on other international agreements or practices, and they could
be absorbed in customary law more easily than many other parts of the new Convention.
For the time being, they are only the end products of long negotiations, expressed in
the form of unratified convention provisions.
The major issue dealt with by UNCLOS III, the regime of the sea-bed and ocean
floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) and of the
resources of the Area, should also be mentioned in this survey, although the role of the
Conference in respect of the Common Heritage of Mankind concept was that of codifica-
tion. We are of the opinion that the principles embodied in General Assembly Resolution
2749(XXV) “Declaration on Principles Governing the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor,
and the Subsoil Thereof, beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction” were already
principles of customary law when UNCLOS III started. The arguments for such a
conclusion are well known, although not unanimously accepted.19
In our view, prior to the elaboration and adoption of the Declaration, there was no
freedom to exploit the resources of the deep sea-bed as one of the freedoms of the high
seas. As there existed no human activities in those inaccessible areas, there was no need
for the development of legal rules, and thus there were no international norms (conven-
tional or customary) developed in relation to these areas. The parallel with the situation
in regard to the air and outer space prior to the beginning of the use of those spaces is
obvious.

19 Zuleta, B., op. cit., p. 523.


22 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

Into that legal vacuum, the 1970 Declaration inserted a set of principles expressing
the concept that the sea-bed and its subsoil were the Common Heritage of Mankind. In
our view, this concept and the principles on which it is based had become general
customary law prior to the start of UNCLOS III.20 In favour of that assertion, we can
quote not only the impressive number of States voting in favour of the 1970 Declaration
(108), but also their decision to establish an international regime on the basis of the
principles of that Declaration. UNCLOS III was convened for the purpose of developing
that regime. The acceptance of the principles of the Declaration in the Convention (Part
XI, Section 2), with no opposition, should dissipate all suspicions in relation to the general
character of these principles. The sixth preambular paragraph to the Convention can be
quoted here; the States participating in the Conference expressed their desire “by this
Convention to develop the principles embodied in Resolution 2749(XXV) of 17 December
1970...”.
The above conclusions do not mean that we claim that other sections of Part XI could
be considered customary law; only favourable future circumstances could lead to such
a development. However, given the present state of affairs, when some States have
prefered a mini-treaty solution to a general international convention, we should point
out one of the principles from the Declaration, thus obligatory upon all States. We have
in mind principle 9:

“On the basis of the principles of this Declaration, an international regime applying to the area
and its resources and including appropriate international machinery to give effect to its provisions
shall be established by an international treaty of a universal character, generally agreed upon.”

For the purpose of establishing that regime, UNCLOS III was convened, and the Law
of the Sea Convention is the envisaged “treaty of a universal character”. The conclusion
of any mini-treaty, endangering the universality of the Convention, is a breach of the
legal obligation created on the basis of the above principle. The Group of legal experts
on the question of unilateral legislation in the Group of 77 concluded in 1979:

“... any unilateral act or mini-treaty is unlawful in that it violates these principles (of the 1970
Declaration), for that regime, whether provisional or definitive, can only be established with
the consent of the international community as the sole representative of mankind and in conform-
ity with the system determined by the international community”.21

20 Such is also the conclusions of the Group of legal experts on the question of unilateral legislation in the
Group of 77; UN Doc. A/CONF.62/77 in: Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Official
Records, Volume XI, p. 82.
21 Ibid., p. 82.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 23

5. THE FUTURE OF THE CONVENTION

As with many previous stages of UNCLOS III, further developments are unclear. One
can only guess what the consequences of the conclusion of such a treaty will be for the
decision of developed states on the signature and ratification of the law of the Sea
Convention and the work of the Authority.
Anyhow, it is difficult to envisage major obstacles to the early entry into force of
the new Convention, at least for the majority of developing States and some of the
developed countries.22 Once the Convention enters into force, the basic prerequisite
for the transformation of its provisions into customary law will be fulfilled, although
we have shown that some of the basic achievements of UNCLOS III have entered into
general law even during the Conference. Every step in the direction of the final entry
of the Convention into the body of positive treaty law (adoption, signature, accessions,
ratifications) gives an impetus to the acceptability of the Convention’s solutions even
outside the province of treaty law.
After the entry into force of the Convention, the practice of States Parties in the
implementation of its provisions, as well as the attitude of non-parties, coupled with opinio
juris, can produce customary law on the basis of the provisions of the Convention. Such
a possible development should be verified very carefully in relation to each particular
regime, institution, principle and provision.
Although it is difficult to accept the criterion of “norm-creating” provisions in
determining the creation of new customary law on the basis of conventional rules, it is
obvious that not all treaty provisions would undergo such a transformation with equal
ease. The radicalism of any change in comparison with the existing law would present
an obstacle in such a process, and the reasonableness of a new treaty provision the main
guarantee of its appeal for non-parties. Thus, for example, one can foresee with more
certainty the transformation into customary law of the provisions concerning enforcement
in case of pollution of the marine environment, than of the changes in the continental
shelf regime.
Institutional provisions, such as provisions on the creation, composition and function-
ing of international bodies, can never pass into customary law binding all States. The
provisions of the Convention, as well as of the annexes thereto, relevant to the Authority,
the Law of the Sea Tribunal or the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf
could be applicable to States and other entities not parties to the Convention only if they

22 We disagree with J. King Gamble’s conclusion that “it will be years before UNCLOS III accumulates enough
ratifications to enter into force” (King Gamble, J. “Post World War II Multilateral Treaty-Making: The Task
of the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference in Perspective”, 17 San Diego Law Review, (1980,
p. 540). In our view, the majority of States that voted for the adoption of and signed the Convention (and
of those that abstained) will wish to participate in the work of different bodies created under the provisions
of the Convention and in all the other forms of its implementation as early as possible.
24 2 – LOS CONVENTION AND CUSTOMARY LAW

themselves provided for such an application and if third parties agreed to submit them-
selves to these conventional rules. However, one of the Convention’s characteristics is
that it almost completely ignore States which do not become parties to it. Although this
is an understandable stand by a Conference the purpose of which was to establish a
charter for the oceans applicable to the whole international community, it is difficult
to ignore the fact that there is no international treaty of which all States are parties. In
view of that reality, the question of the rights (and duties) of States non-parties concerning
the Common Heritage of Mankind – which was regulated in detail in the Convention –
remains unsettled. In this respect, the 1970 Declaration’s principles, applicable to all
States, seem to be limited by the Convention to States Parties.
A consequence of our above conclusion, that the principles contained in the 1970
Declaration represent general customary international law, would be the necessity for
the Authority to determine the situation of States who temporarily or permanently remain
outside the framework of the Convention. They should have some rights in relation to
the Common Heritage of Mankind, derived from the regime established in the Convention.
As such States themselves choose the status of non-parties to the Convention and non-
participants in the regime established in accordance with the Declaration, in no case do
they have the right to establish particular regimes outside the Law of the Sea Convention
(either by unilateral legislation or by a mini-treaty) contrary to the sea-bed regime
established by UNCLOS.
Chapter 3

GENERALLY ACCEPTED INTERNATIONAL RULES AND


STANDARDS*

1. RULES OF REFERENCE IN THE LOS CONVENTION

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention), as well as
the Geneva Conventions in an earlier stage of the development of the law of the sea,
contain only the main legal norms forming the law of the sea. The LOS Convention,
once it enters into force, will represent the basic, constitutional treaty of the international
legal order of the oceans which, in addition, includes other treaties, customary inter-
national law, and national legislation. For this reason, the provisions of the LOS Conven-
tion often refer to other legal norms, international as well as municipal.
The interdependence of Part XII of the LOS Convention (Protection of the Marine
Environment) with the rest of the legal rules regulating the protection of the seas is
particularly accentuated. The provisions of this part of the Convention represent the
codification and progressive development based on the previously concluded treaties (e.g.,
the 1954 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil) and
general international law (customary international law and general principles of law) and
the principles and recommendations of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the Human
Environment. On the other hand, the Convention itself (Article 197) establishes the duty
of states to adopt additional provisions in the field:

“States shall co-operate on a global basis and, as appropriate, on a regional basis, directly or
through competent international organizations, in formulating and elaborating international rules,
standards and recommended practices and procedures consistent with this Convention, for the
protection and preservation of the marine environment, taking into account characteristic regional
features.”

Apart from the further development of international law, the LOS Convention
(Article 194, paragraph 1) envisages the duty of States to take measures – including the

* First published in Implementation of The Law of the Sea Convention Through International Institutions,
Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Law of the Sea Institute, June 12-15, 1989,
Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands (Alfred H. A. Soons, ed.), published by the Law of the Sea
Institute Wiliam S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, Hononlulu, 1990; published
also in Zbornik Pravnog Fakulteta u Zagrebu, 39 (1989), No. 4.
26 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

adoption of appropriate national legislation – in order to implement its provisions. In


cases when the Convention refers to the duty of States to take legislative measures to
prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the environment from different sources the terms
‘laws and regulations’ are used.1 According to Timagenis, “the term ‘regulations’ seems
to mean secondary national norms in contrast to ‘laws’ denoting principal national
norms.”2
These two terms will probably cause no serious problems of interpretation, although
they do not cover all the relevant sources of law in different internal legal systems. Be
that as it may, the relation between the LOS Convention and internal law is not a subject
to be discussed in this paper.

2. ‘INTERNATIONAL RULES AND STANDARDS’: DRAFTING HISTORY AT


UNCLOS III

Besides the general provision concerning the cooperation of states in formulating and
elaborating ‘international rules, standards and recommended practices and procedures’
(Article 197), the LOS Convention refers to the establishment and enforcement of
international rules with respect to particular sources of pollution. Moreover, many
provisions refer to other international rules with respect to questions connected with the
protection and preservation of marine environment (safety at sea, sea lanes and traffic
separation schemes, removal of abandoned or disused installations or structures, etc.).
Due to the different contexts in which the Convention’s provisions refer to other inter-
national rules, the drafters of the LOS Convention were not able to use a uniform
terminology in that respect.
In 1978 the UNCLOS Drafting Committee drew a list of terms used in the informal
draft convention (the Informal Composite Negotiating Text – ICNT).3 Under the heading
‘international rules and standards’ twenty-one expressions used in the draft convention
were classified, out of which eighteen were used in provisions directly or indirectly
dealing with the protection of the marine environment.4 A multitude of terms was used
in order to denote international rules relative to the prevention, reduction, and control
of the marine environment to which they refer. The terms ‘rules,’ ‘standards,’ ‘regula-
tions,’ ‘procedures’ and ‘practices’ were used in different combinations and they were
characterized as ‘generally accepted,’ ‘international,’ ‘applicable,’ ‘internationally agreed,’

1 LOS Convention, Articles 207(1); 208(1); 210(1), 211(2), 212(1).


2 Gregorios J. Timagenis, International Control of Marine Pollution, Volume 2 (Dobbs Ferry, New York:
Oceana Publications Inc., 1980), note 44 at p. 603.
3 Informal Composite Negotiating Text, Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.10 (15 July 1977).
4 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 2 (8 August 1978), A preliminary list of recurring words and expressions
in the Informal Composite Negotiating Text which may be harmonized, pp. 26-30.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 27

‘global,’ ‘regional,’ ‘relevant,’ and ‘specified.’ These adjectives were also combined in
different ways; most often were used the combinations ‘generally accepted international’
and ‘applicable international.’
As harmonization was a proclaimed purpose in the further work of the Drafting
Committee, several approaches were suggested in order to reduce the number of the words
used.
The English language group considered two approaches for international measures:

“a) The number of different words appearing in the text could be reduced and the use of one
or more of these in various articles could be harmonized;

(i) There would be no need to refer both to ‘rules’ and ‘regulations’ in the same provision. Many
preferred ‘rules’, on the understanding that the inclusion of the idea of ‘regulations’ in the word
‘rules’ would be made clear;

(ii) In addition to one of the words in (i), it would be desirable to choose one word from among
‘standards’, ‘practices’ and ‘procedures’ making clear that the words deleted are deemed to
be included in those retained...
b) A reasonably brief term could be defined in the Convention to include rules, regulations,
practices and procedures...”5

Three weeks later, the coordinators of the language groups recommended that the follow-
ing questions be referred to the language groups:

“a) whether it was desirable that the number of different words appearing in the text should
be reduced;

(i) by the use of a term which could be defined in the Convention to include rules, standards,
regulations, practices and procedures;

(ii) by choosing one or more words from among those which now appear in the text.
With respect to (ii), it has been suggested that either the word ‘standards’ or ‘norms’ be used,
or that the word ‘standards’ be used in English and the word ‘normes’ and ‘normas’ be used
in French and Spanish.

b) whether a distinction should be made between words such as rules, regulations and standards
and other words such as practices and procedures.”6

5 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 4/Rev. 2 (5 August 1980), Some notes on the preliminary reports of
the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish language groups on Informal Paper 2, p. 17.
6 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 15/Rev. 1 (26 August 1980), Draft Recommendations of the Co-
ordinators of the Language Groups for the purpose of Consideration in the Language Groups, p. 3.
28 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

All the quoted questions and suggestions demonstrated the conviction of the drafters of
the LOS Convention that the multitude of words used correspond to the existing variety
of international measures to which the Convention refers. The quoted initiative within
the Drafting Committee intended only to simplify the terminology by reducing the number
of terms used. However, according to all the quoted suggestions, the terms used were
to be defined in such a way as to make clear that the words deleted were deemed to be
included in those retained.
The eventual result of this approach was that not a single word from the ICNT was
omitted in the final text of the LOS Convention and the long list of expressions with
respect to ‘international rules and standards’ was not simplified. On the contrary, even
a new expression was inserted regarding enforcement with respect to polluting from
activities in the Area (Article 215)!
The varied terminology used in the rules of reference in the environmental provisions
of the LOS Convention caused problems of interpretation even with the participants in
the UNCLOS negotiations.7 Much worse is the position of commentators who did not
have the opportunity of participing in the mostly unofficial negotiations at UNCLOS
III. Thus, Alan Boyle claims that the rules of reference are ‘with no obvious uniformity
in terminology or clarity of meaning’.8
However, it is not only the variety of the used terminology that causes confusion;
there are cases of different expressions used with respect to the same source of pollution
in different articles of the LOS Convention. Thus, stating the duties of ships during transit
passage, the Convention provides that they shall

“comply with generally accepted international regulations, procedures and practices for the
prevention, reduction and control of pollution from ships.” (Article 39(2)(b)). (emphasis added)

On the other hand, in Part XII with respect to pollution of ships the duty of States to
‘establish international rules and standards to prevent, reduce and control pollution of
the marine environment from vessels...’ has been provided for (Article 211(1)) (emphasis
added). ‘Rules and standards’ are the only terms used also with respect to enforcement
with respect to polluting from ships (Articles 217, 218 and 220).
Unnecessary differences are also created between the UNCLOS III rules and the
corresponding provisions in the Geneva Conventions. Thus, e.g., the 1958 Convention
on the High Seas provides that in taking measures for ships under their flag necessary
to ensure safety at sea, States are required to conform to “generally accepted international
standards” (Article 10). The corresponding provision in the LOS Convention requires

7 Timagenis, loc. cit.


8 A.E. Boyle, “Marine Pollution Under the Law of the Sea Convention”, American Journal of International
Law 79, no. 2 (April 1985): 347-372 at p. 355.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 29

conformity of national measures to ‘generally accepted international regulations, pro-


cedures and practices...’ (Article 94(5)).
Indecisiveness in drafting and arbitrariness of the final solutions is even more trans-
parent with respect to the adjectives used to characterize the terms used for differences
between the ICNT and the final text of the LOS Convention. But in the course of
negotiations and in the work of the Drafting Committee many of these solutions were
questioned.
In August 1980 the English language group proposed the substitution of the words
“generally accepted” for the word “applicable” in the references to “international regula-
tions” or “international rules and standards” in Articles 42(1)(b), 94(4)(c), 218(1) and
219. Moreover, it was suggested that the words “generally accepted” be added to Articles
208(3) and 210(6) before the respective references to “international rules” and “global
rules”.9 The coordinators of the language groups invited all language groups to give
their views on the proposals of the English group.10 The proposals were still under
consideration by the Drafting Committee at the beginning of 1981,11 but the final result
was negative, and nothing has in this respect been changed in the Convention’s text.
Taking into account the drafting history of the expressions concerning ‘international
rules and standards’ it is clear that it would be a vain attempt to try to comment on all
these expressions we find in the UNCLOS provisions on the protection and preservation
of the marine environment.
Thus, the scope of the present paper is limited to the ‘generally accepted international
rules and standards’. This expression is contained in four provisions dealing with the
law-making and enforcement with respect to pollution from ships in Articles 211(2),
211(5), 211(6) and 226(1)(a). In a slightly different variant (‘generally accepted inter-
national rules or standards’ (emphasis added)) we find it in Article 21(2), dealing with
norms concerning design, construction, manning, or equipment of foreign ships. This
difference is irrelevant; namely, the first variant is used in Article 211(6)(c) in respect
to the same subject as the one dealt with in Article 21(2).
Article 211 of the LOS Convention deals with international rules and national
legislation to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from
vessels. It proclaims the obligation of States to “establish international rules and standards”
for this purpose (Article 211(1)). According to this Article, States shall accomplish this
duty “acting through the competent international organization or general diplomatic
conference” (emphasis added). The intention of UNCLOS III to have only one, global

9 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 4/Rev. 2, p. 17. For some other suggestions see: W. van Reenen, “Rules
of Reference in the new Convention on the Law of the Sea, in particular in connection with the pollution
of the sea by oil from tankers”, Netherlands Yearbook of International Law 12 (1981): 3-44 at pp. 10-11.
10 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 15/Rev. 1, p. 3.
11 Drafting Committee, Informal Paper 18 (16 January 1981), Specific Items still under the consideration by
the Drafting Committee, pp. 1-2.
30 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

international legal order with respect to pollution from vessels is obvious, as with respect
to other sources of pollution the international legislative activity of States is envisaged
“through competent international organizations or diplomatic conference” (emphasis
added). Here, with respect to pollution from vessels only “general diplomatic conference”
is foreseen and, on the other hand, it is common knowledge that the singular used instead
of ‘competent international organizations’ meant the reservation of the international
legislation for the International Maritime Organization (IMO).12 The confirmation of
this conclusion is to be found also in Article 2 of Annex VIII (Special Arbitration) to
the Convention, where it is said that the list of experts in the field of navigation, including
pollution from vessels and by dumping shall be drawn and maintained by the International
Maritime Organization.
However, it should be borne in mind that the expression ‘generally accepted rules
and (or) standards’ is used also with respect to “the design, construction, manning or
equipment of foreign ships” (Article 21(2) and 211(6)(c)). At least with respect to the
manning of ships another international organization is also competent. We have in mind
the International Labor Organization, whose conventions and recommendations deal with
issues relevant to maritime safety and, indirectly, with the prevention of pollution (e.g.,
Convention (No. 147) concerning Minimum Standards in Merchant Shipping, 1976, and
Recommendation (No. 155) concerning the Improvement of Standards in Merchant
Shipping, 1976).13
It goes without saying that the treaties to which refer the provisions of the LOS
Convention may be applied as between States Parties to this Convention – once it enters
into force – only in accordance with its general provisions on its relation to “other
conventions and international agreements” (Article 311). Moreover, in respect to the

12 See: E. Miles, “On the Roles of International Organizations in the New Ocean Regime”, The Law of the
Sea in the 1980s, Proceedings of the Law of the Sea Institute Conference (October 20-23, 1980, Kiel,
Germany): 383-445 at pp. 425 and 427; O. Rojahan, “National Jurisdiction and Marine Pollution from Ships:
The Future Role of IMCO Standards”, Ibid., pp. 464-482 at p. 465. The exclusive competence of IMO in
respect of all the questions related to navigation was proved also in respect of Art. 22(3)(a) of the Convention.
Namely, the ICNT/Rev. 2 (Doc. A/CONF. 62/WP. 10/Rev. 2 of 11 April 1980) provided that in the
designation of sea lanes and the prescription of traffic separation schemes the coastal State shall take into
account the recommendations of “competent international organizations”. In its letter of 23 May 1980 (Al/B/
1.02 CPS/TAH/aj) IMO (IMCO at the time) criticized this formulation stating that “...the nature of the
problem is such that it can safely be dealt with by only one organization. IMCO has always been recognized
as the competent body for this function, and it would be unfortunate if the use of the plural term “organiza-
tions” were to give the impression that other organizations are also expected to adopt such schemes”. After
this intervention, in the next version of the ICNT, the Conference changed the plural for singular (Art.
22(3)(a) of Doc. A/CONF/62/WP. 10/Rev. 3 of 27 August 1980). See also: IMO Doc. Implications of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 for the International Maritime Organization (IMO),
Study by the Secretariat of IMO, Doc. LEG/MISC/1 of 28 July 1987, p. 2 (para. 5), p. 34 (para. 72).
13 See: van Reenen, op. cit., pp. 34-36.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 31

performance of the duties under other conventions on the protection and preservation
of the marine environment, paragraph 2 of Article 237 should be applied:

“Specific obligations assumed by States under special conventions, with respect to the protection
and preservation of the marine environment, should be carried out in a manner consistent with
the general principles and objectives of this Convention.”

Indirect reference to IMO resolved at least the problem of the legislative authority with
respect to pollution from vessels. However, the terms ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ remain to
be interpreted. Even more complicated is the task of finding a sound interpretation of
the expression “generally accepted”, used in paragraph 2 of Article 211 with respect to
“rules and standards”. Namely, Article 211(2) provides that laws and regulations adopted
by States “shall at least have the same effect as that of generally accepted international
rules and standards established through the competent international organization or general
diplomatic conference.”

3. ‘RULES AND STANDARDS’ AND THE LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY OF IMO

The drafting history of the rules of reference and the final text of the LOS Convention
caused uncertainties even in the comments of the participants at UNCLOS III. Thus,
Timagenis admits:

“The difference between “rules” and “standards” is not absolutely clear.”14

However, Timagenis and some other commentators are not eager to engage in the analysis
of the difference between the two terms.15 Van Reenen concludes that “standards are
a special sort of binding rule”.16 He draws this conclusion from the habitual structure
of IMO Conventions:

“A characteristics of most of these conventions is that the substantive rules, in casu technical
provisions, are laid down in annexes. In general, the rules concerned with the scope of the treaty,
those regarding the legal consequences of violation of the substantive rules and the provisions
on supervision are found in the main body of the treaty. It is submitted that these latter rules
may appropriately be qualified as ‘international rules’, and the technical provisions as ‘inter-
national standards’.”17

14 Timagenis, op. cit., note 44 at p. 603.


15 See also: Rojahan, op. cit., pp. 474-480.
16 Van Reenen, op. cit., p. 12.
17 Ibid., p. 25.
32 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

Boyle poses the question of the distinction between ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ in the frame-
work of the IMO legislative activity:

“The meaning of “rules” as a form of potentially binding obligation is clear enough, but are
“standards” intended to refer, by contrast, to resolutions of the International Maritime Organiza-
tion (IMO) and other such non-binding instruments, or is the distinction merely descriptive of
different categories of obligation?”18

His answer is that ‘standards’, like ‘rules’, should be restricted to those laid down in
instruments intended to be binding, as “States should be allowed the freedom to make
collective recommendations without their becoming instantly and indirectly a form of
binding obligation.”19
Under the Convention of the International Maritime Organization, IMO is entrusted
with the drafting of “conventions, agreements, or other suitable instruments” and with
the making of recommendations upon, inter alia, the encouragement of “the general
adoption of the highest navigation and the prevention and control of marine pollution
from ships...” (Article 3, Article l(a)).
These constitutional rules as well as the following quotation from a paper presented
by the Secretariat of IMO to UNCLOS III may leave the impression that ‘standards’
are not to be found in treaty instruments adopted within the framework of the Organiza-
tion, but in non-treaty instruments which do not have a binding force:

“IMCO’s work in the various fields within its competence consists of the preparation and
adoption of Conventions and other appropriate multilateral treaty instruments in cases where
governments consider that the issues involved require, or are suitable for, regulation through
formal treaty provisions. Where the adoption of the treaty instruments is not considered to be
either appropriate or timely in a particular case, IMCO promotes the adoption and implementation
of recommendations, codes, uniform standards, recommended practices, etc. While not legally
binding on governments, these recommendations, codes, etc., represent agreed international
standards which governments find both acceptable and useful for incorporation, in whole or
in part, in their national regulatory regimes.”20

However, the instruments passed in IMO prove that standards, i.e., technical norms, are
contained both in non-treaty instruments as well as in the IMO Conventions. E.g.,
standards are contained both in the Recommendation on International Effluent Standards

18 Boyle, op. cit., pp. 356-357.


19 Ibid., p. 357.
20 Work of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) Regarding the Development
and Adoption of International Standards in Shipping and Related Matters, Doc. 08849 Presented by the
Secretariat of IMCO, p. 2. It is interesting to note that in its title the document uses the term “standards”
as embracing all the norms (binding and nonbinding) adopted within the framework of IMCO.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 33

and Guidelines for Performance Tests for Sewage Treatment Plants (Resolution
MEPC.2(VI)) as well as in Annex I (Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil)
to the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
The particular case of IMO is just but an example of the general situation with respect
to the international standards which, according to Contini and Sand, may be divided into
three categories: strictly mandatory standards, non-mandatory standards, and potentially
mandatory standards.21 These two scholars stress also the variety of international instru-
ments in which ‘standards’ can be incorporated:

“Yet technical standards have long (indeed, since the 19th century) been a part of numerous
multilateral agreements ranging from telecommunications, aviation, health and meteorology
to marine resources and wildlife conservation. Under various names and titles, international
“standards” or “practices” – their quasi-binding force often vaguely and misleadingly couched
in terms of “recommendations” or “international legislation” – have emerged as a distinct type
of norms, characterized by a high degree of flexibility and adaptability in line with their
predominantly technical-operational objectives.”22

This historical summary as well as the particular situation in IMO brings us to the
conclusion that the term ‘standards’ should be understood as having an extra-legal
meaning of a level of quality or achievement; it can be contained both in a convention
(including its annexes) as well as in a non-treaty instrument – an instrument not having
a binding force.
The term ‘rule’, on the other hand, should be interpreted as meaning all the inter-
national norms which determine the duties and rights of States with respect to the
protection of the environment. We share the interpretation of the term ‘rule’ given by
van Reenen:

“...when word “rules” is used in a rule of reference, there is no possible doubt that the rules
in question are rules of positive public international law, i.e., treaty rules which are in force,
or rules of customary law. In addition, the word “rules” covers decisions of international
organizations which are binding on the member states pursuant to the constitution of the
organization in question, or decisions which are not binding initially but have become binding
as customary law.”23

The above meaning of the terms ‘standards’ and ‘rules’ for which we have opted, brings
us to the conclusion that the two notions will in some cases overlap; i.e., in cases where

21 P. Contini, P.H. Sand, “Methods to Expedite Environment Protection: International Ecostandards”, American
Journal of International Law 66, no. 1 (January 1972): 37-59 at pp. 47-53.
22 Ibid., p. 40. In the same sense see: Environmental Law – An In-Depth Review, UNEP Report No. 2 (1981),
p. 234.
23 Van Reenen, op. cit., p. 8.
34 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

‘standards’ have been a binding force. However, there are similar situations of vagueness
and overlapping with respect to other terms used in this field. E.g., there is no clarity
in the use of the terms ‘practices’ and ‘procedures’.

4. THE ENIGMA OF GENERAL ACCEPTANCE

I venture to call the expression ‘generally accepted’ an enigma as it was very much so
even for the IMO – the organization designated as being competent with respect to
pollution from vessels. In an Annex to the letter sent by C.P. Srivastava, Secretary-General
of IMO to J. Alan Beesley, Chairman of the UNCLOS III Drafting Committee, the
following question was posed:

“In particular it would be helpful if further clarification could be given to make the distinction
between the expressions “generally accepted” and “applicable” when used to refer to international
rules and standards. In this connection it would be useful if it would be clearly indicated whether
the term “generally accepted rules and standards” is intended to refer to international standards
which have received sufficient international endorsement in an appropriate international forum,
for example, by their adoption by the competent international body or by a diplomatic conference
for generally application or, alternatively, whether rules and standards would be considered
as being “generally accepted” only if they are contained in formal treaty instruments which
are in force.”24

Ignoring the problem of the distinction between ‘rules’ and ‘standards’, scholars try to
find a single explanation for the expression ‘generally accepted’ used with respect to
the IMO instruments.
Daniel Vignes considers as ‘generally accepted’ not only customary rules and jus
cogens, but also technical and specific rules on navigation and pollution to which the
international community has given “a consent at the same time diffuse and general”.25
Timagenis is mainly concerned with the interpretation of the term ‘international rules’
itself, and he discusses the problem only in terms of treaty law. He opts for a solution
in which a conventional rule could be considered as being ‘international law’, thus
applicable to all States,

24 Letter dated 23 May 1980 (A1/B/1.02 CPS/TAH/aj).


25 D. Vignes, “La valeur juridique de certaines regies, normes ou pratiques mentionnees au TNCO comme
“generalement acceptees”, Annuaire Français de Droit International 25 (1979): 712-718 at p. 718.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 35

“when the rule is ratified not only by the minimum number of States required for its entry into
force but by a greater number of States, thus obtaining a wider acceptance, without, necessarily,
becoming customary law.”26

From his point of view, the addition of ‘generally accepted’ to ‘international rules’ serves
only the purpose of reducing the uncertainty concerning the acceptance of an ‘international
rule’.27
Van Reenen submits that the meaning of ‘generally accepted’ corresponds to the
criteria established by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for determining whether
certain treaty rules have become world-wide rules of customary law. He arrives also to
the tentative conclusion that rules of general customary law can be based not only on
treaty rules, but also on non-binding decisions of the competent international organiza-
tion.28
O. Rojahan, impressed by the advantages of standard-setting with IMO over the
procedure of treaty negotiation, bases his interpretation of the general acceptance test
on the recognition of technical standards as practical and feasible:

“...to become generally accepted, a technical standard must be carried by a consensus relating
to its technological justification and economic feasibility. The test of general acceptance requires
a technology-related judgment. This judgment must not be confused with the acceptance of
a technical standard as legally binding...”29

However, in order to become generally accepted, even according to Rojahan, a technical


standard must have won the acceptance of “something more than a simple majority of
participating States” including “the major maritime States”.30 The approval of technical
standards may be expressed in the official adoption of a resolution dealing with technical
regulations, the entry into force of technical annexes following simplified amendment
procedures, the signature of a convention by a qualified majority of States or its adoption
by a qualified majority.31
For Mario Valenzuela, a representative of IMO at UNCLOS III, the most reasonable
interpretation is that the ‘generally accepted rules and standards’ are those embodied
in relevant IMO conventions in force. He bases his conclusions on the fact that these
Conventions (e.g., the 1973/78 MARPOL instrument) provide stringent conditions for
their entry into force (acceptance by a substantial number of States, having among them

26 Timagenis, op. cit., p. 605. See also pp. 606-607.


27 Ibid., p. 607.
28 He refers to the North Sea Continental Shelf cases; van Reenen, op. cit., pp. 11-12.
29 Rojahan, op cit., p. 474.
30 Ibid., p. 476.
31 Ibid., pp. 467-478.
36 3 – GENERALLY ACCEPTED RULES

more than half of the tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet). This author shows a great
deal of sympathy for the conclusions of K. Hakapää, for whom international rules and
standards having sizeable support among the maritime States most affected by their
implementation could be characterized as ‘quasi-customary’ law. However, Valenzuela
did not dare to answer the question whether such conventions are applicable to all States,
or only to those for whom they are in force.32
For Alan Boyle, as “the object of the pertinent provisions of the Law of the Sea
Convention is to bring about the widest possible application of international rules”, the
traditional freedom of States to refuse to ratify or apply relevant multilateral conventions
should be limited. Thus, conventions intended to represent the international community’s
most recent formulation of relevant rules and standards, should receive the ratification
of enough States for their entry into force.33

5. FINAL REMARKS

In the variety of meanings attributed to the expression ‘generally accepted’, flexible


interpretations going beyond the parameters given by Article 38(1) of the Statute of the
ICJ for the creation of customary law prevail. The reason for this flexibility is obvious:
in order to increase the number of applicable ‘international rules and standards’ for the
protection and preservation of the marine environment, the rigid limits of applicable treaty
law and the problems of ascertaining the existence of customary law are to be avoided.
Such extensive interpretations are plausible in this case, taking into account the
intentions of the drafters34 and the texts of the corresponding provisions of the LOS
Convention dealing with other sources of pollution, where no extensive application was
envisaged and the habitual terminology was used (‘intentionally agreed rules...’, ‘global
and regional rules...’, ‘international rules...’). However, the diversity and vagueness of
the tests of general acceptance submitted by the quoted authors give an idea of the
problems the international community will incur in applying the rules of reference which
include the criterion of general acceptance. The reasonableness of the introduction of
this new source of uncertainty in a legal order which is traditionally handicapped by the
non-existence of an objective test for the establishment of rules of customary law and
the newly invented notion of “soft law” is doubtful.

32 M. Valenzuela, “IMO: Public International Law and Regulation”, The Law of the Sea and Ocean Industry:
New Opportunities and Restraints, Proceedings, Law of the Sea Institute Sixteenth Annual Conference (June
21-24, 1982, Halifax, Nova Scotia): 141-151 at pp. 143, 144-145, 151. See also: K. Hakapää, Pollution
in International Law (1981), p. 121.
33 Boyle, op. cit., p. 356.
34 See: Timagenis, op. cit., p. 606.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 37

In this perspective, the suggestion of Mario Valenzuela is both understandable and


wise:

“Since the Law of the Sea Convention does not clarify the interpretation of the terms “generally
accepted” and “applicable” used to qualify “international rules and standards”, it is likely that
states, either through IMO or by means of their practice at the national or regional levels, will
have to determine their own interpretation.”35

A recent study by the Secretariat of IMO also suggests that it would be necessary for
the appropriate bodies of IMO to consider what guidelines IMO can usefully provide
to States in regard of rules and regulations which are deemed to be ‘generally accep-
ted’.36
I do agree that the appropriate bodies of IMO should indicate to the world community
the level to which the IMO Conventions and IMO non-treaty instruments are formally
accepted by States and applied in their practice. However, the expression ‘generally
accepted international rules and standards’, and particularly its first part, require a
thorough analysis and a more general answer. In this respect the already mentioned IMO
study should be quoted again:

“It is... to be noted that formal and authoritative interpretations of the 1982 Convention’s
provisions can only be undertaken by the States Parties to that Convention or, in appropriate
cases, by judicial or arbitral tribunals provided for that purpose in the Convention itself.”37

All the questions raised in this paper and in previous articles on this topic deserve an
answer which will have a durable value with respect to the problem of the sources of
international law. It would, therefore, be preferable to have an interpretation of all the
questions related to the unclear expression ‘generally accepted international rules and
standards’ by an organ of such an authority as the United Nations International Law
Commission or the International Court of Justice.

35 Valenzuela, op. cit., p. 151.


36 See: IMO doc. LEG/MISC/1, p. 52 (para. 122).
37 Ibid., p. 3 (para. 10).
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Chapter 4

POSSIBLE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE


LAW OF THE SEA IN INTERPRETATION AND PROGRESSIVE
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF THE SEA*

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea includes a single system
of rules on the settlement of disputes between states parties concerning the interpretation
or application of the Convention.1 The backbone of this system is Part XV of the LOS
Convention (Settlement of Disputes) and Annexes V-VIII to the Convention (Conciliation,
Statute of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Arbitration, Special Arbitra-
tion). However, there are provisions on the settlement of disputes also in other parts of
the Convention and in the respective Annexes. Particularly important is Section 5 of Part
XI, dealing with the settlement of disputes and advisory opinions with respect to activities
in the Area (Arts. 186-191).
The approach to the settlement of disputes of the Third United Nations Conference
on the Law of the Sea was different from the one adopted by the 1958 UN Conference
on the Law of the Sea. Namely, the states drafting the 1958 Geneva Conventions on
the Law of the Sea did not impose a unique system of disputes settlement in respect of
all the four Conventions they were adopting. A general system was contained in the
Optional Protocol of Signature Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes, to
which all states parties to any of the four Geneva Conventions could become parties.2
Thus the Protocol could apply only to disputes including states bound both by the relevant
Geneva Convention and the Optional Protocol. In addition to the Optional Protocol,
specific settlement of disputes provisions were included only in the Convention on Fishing
and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas.3
States parties to a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the LOS
Convention are free to agree to settle the dispute by any peaceful means of their own
choice.4 The means provided for in the Convention are applied only when no settlement

* First published in Order for the Oceans at the Turn of the Century, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute,
(Davor Vidas and Willy Østreng, eds.), Kluwer Law International, The Hague/London/Boston, 1999.
1 For the text of the Convention, see: The Law of the Sea, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,
UN Pub. Sales No. E.83.V.5, 1983.
2 UNTS, Vol. 450, pp. 169ff.
3 Arts. 9-12, text in UNTS, Vol. 559, pp. 285ff.
4 Art. 280 of the LOS Convention.
40 4 – ITLOS AND THE PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

has been reached by recourse to the means chosen, and the agreement between the parties
does not exclude any further procedure.5
The LOS Convention itself obliges states parties to a dispute to ‘proceed expeditiously
to an exchange of views regarding its settlement by negotiation or other peaceful means’.6
They may also agree to submit the dispute to a conciliation procedure.7 A dispute where
no settlement has been reached by recourse to the mentioned means, shall be submitted
at the request of any party to the dispute to a court or tribunal.8 In addition to the Inter-
national Court of Justice, the Convention envisages the establishment of a new institution
– the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and it provides rules for the establish-
ment of two types of arbitral tribunals.9 States parties are entitled to choose one or more
of these means.

1. INTERPRETATIVE ROLE OF THE TRIBUNAL

The role of the Tribunal – as well as that of the ICJ and the arbitral tribunals – is ‘the
settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application’ of the Convention.
In addition to this competence, the ICJ and ITLOS have also the jurisdiction of giving
advisory opinions. This competence of the ICJ, although not mentioned in the LOS
Convention, has to be admitted even in the field of the law of the sea on the basis of
the general competence of the Court.10 Advisory opinions in respect of the activities
in the Area, given by the Seabed Disputes Chamber of ITLOS, are provided for in the
LOS Convention itself.11
The formulation used to describe the competence of ITLOS – ‘the settlement of
disputes concerning the interpretation and application’ of the Convention – is equal to
the wording used in respect of the settlement of disputes in the mentioned 1958 Optional
Protocol, and to other treaties concluded on the basis of the drafts prepared by the
International Law Commission.12 However, the role of the judicial bodies in the settle-

5 Ibid., Art. 281.


6 Ibid., Art. 283(1).
7 Ibid., Art. 284.
8 Ibid., Art. 286. However, not all the disputes shall necessarily be submitted to one of the compulsory
procedures entailing binding decisions. The Convention excludes some categories of disputes from the
obligatory submission to the courts or tribunals (Art. 297), and it permits to every state party to declare
that it does not accept these procedures in respect of three other categories of disputes (Art. 298). See also
Mensah, chapter 6 in this book.
9 Ibid., Art. 287 and Annexes VI-VIII.
10 Art. 96 of the UN Charter and Arts. 65-68 of the Statute of the Court.
11 Art. 159(10) and Art. 191 of the LOS Convention.
12 Art. I of the Protocol; see also other treaties concluded on the basis of the ILC drafts in: The Work of the
International Law Commission, fourth edition, UN Pub. Sales No. E.88.V.1, 1988, pp. 189, 212, 241, 259,
279, 291, 320, 340, 356 and 384.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 41

ment of disputes in UN practice is sometimes defined differently. Thus, for example,


in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,
the competence of the ICJ covers ‘disputes...relating to the interpretation, application
or fulfilment of the present Convention’.13
Whatever the precise definition of the role of a judicial body in settling a dispute,
the crux of its role is to resolve the dispute between the parties on the basis of a correct
interpretation of the applicable legal rules. Therefore, the distinction between the ‘inter-
pretation’ and ‘application’ of a treaty, is in my view artificial. The parties to a dispute
are not interested in the ‘interpretation’ of the rules of a treaty if the interpretation does
not concern the ‘application’ of the treaty. They will submit the case to a judicial body
only in order to protect their own rights and interests, hoping that the interpretation given
by the court or tribunal will impose the application of the treaty according to their
expectation.
If the settlement of disputes leaves the impression, at least at first sight, of two
different and separate duties of the court/tribunal – settling disputes concerning the
interpretation or resolving disputes relative to the application of the Convention – the
task of giving advisory opinions is unambiguous. The Tribunal gives its opinion ‘on legal
questions arising within the scope’ of the activities of the Assembly or the Council of
the International Seabed Authority.14 Taking into account the powers and functions of
these two bodies, it is obvious that ITLOS may be asked to give an advisory opinion
on different decisions they have to take, including the elaboration of rules, regulations
and procedures concerning the activities in the Area, the approval of plans of work, etc.
Although such a generalisation may prove not to be adequate in some specific cases,
I would venture to claim that interpretation of the Convention will be the main purpose
of the request for advisory opinions, while in the settlement of disputes interpretation
plays a subsidiary role. The main purpose of the settlement of every dispute is to evaluate
the claims and acts of the parties on the basis of the Convention. The evaluation of the
positions and deeds of the parties in the light of the Convention is the main problem;
the interpretation of the Convention itself is to be undertaken to the extent the circum-
stances of the case require.
It comes as no surprise that the role of the Tribunal in the interpretation of the LOS
Convention is at the centre of everyone’s attention. However, the interpretative role of
the Tribunal, both in disputes as well as advisory opinions, is not limited only to this
instrument. It encompasses all other agreements conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal,15
as well as the entire corpus of legal rules it applies. According to Article 293, paragraph 1
of the Convention, ‘a court or tribunal having jurisdiction under this Section shall apply

13 Art. IX; UNTS, Vol. 78, pp. 277ff.


14 Art. 191 of the LOS Convention.
15 See ibid., Art. 21 of Annex VI.
42 4 – ITLOS AND THE PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

this Convention and other rules of international law not incompatible with this Conven-
tion’.
In respect of the interpretation of the LOS Convention, it is necessary to point out
that the Tribunal is entitled to interpret not only the substantive rules on the law of the
sea but also the procedural, organisational provisions contained in the Convention,
including those regulating the jurisdiction, organisation and procedure of the Tribunal
itself. Article 16 of its Statute expressly invites the Tribunal to ‘frame rules for carrying
out its functions’ and, in particular, to ‘lay down rules of procedure’.
The Rules of the Tribunal, adopted on 28 October 1997,16 undoubtedly contain
provisions which can be characterised as meaning an interpretation, a clarification of
the concise and sometimes vague provisions of the Convention, including the Statute
of the Tribunal. Article 138 of the Rules is one of the provisions that could be considered
as such an interpretation of the Convention. Article 21 of the Statute confirms the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal in respect of ‘all matters specifically provided for in any other
agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal’. The Tribunal has interpreted this
provision as not excluding the possibility that on the basis of such an agreement ‘related
to the purposes of the Convention’, the Tribunal be required to give an advisory opinion.
Thus, the Rules of the Tribunal do not limit its advisory opinions only to those concerning
activities in the Area, which are the only ones expressly mentioned in the Convention.
The interpretation of the Tribunal procedure is not given only in the already adopted
Rules; it will constantly be undertaken in the course of the Tribunal’s work. In my
opinion, an example in this sense is contained in the Order of 11 March 1998, made
at the request of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for provisional measures in respect of
its dispute with Guinea in the M/V Saiga case.17 The Tribunal had to interpret some
of the provisions concerning provisional measures contained in Article 290 of the Conven-
tion, which mentions only ‘the prescription of provisional measures’. However in addition
to one prescribed provisional measure, the Tribunal addressed some recommendations
to the parties.
Article 95 of the Rules requires the submission by the parties of reports on their
compliance with the prescribed provisional measures. The Tribunal requested the sub-
mission of an initial report not specifying whether the parties should report only on their
compliance with the prescribed provisional measure, or also on the follow-up to the
recommendations. On 29 April 1998 the Agent for St. Vincent and the Grenadines

16 ITLOS, Rules of the Tribunal, ITLOS/8.


17 ITLOS, Year 1998, 11 March 1998, The M/V Saiga (No. 2) (St. Vincent and the Grenadines v. Guinea),
Request for provisional measures, Order.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 43

reported on the unsuccessful endeavours of the government of that state to find an


arrangement with Guinea pending the final decision, as recommended by the Tribunal.18

2. INTERPRETATION OF THE LOS CONVENTION

There is almost no treaty or international rule the application of which does not require
a certain level of interpretation. There are many reasons why the provisions of the LOS
Convention necessitate more interpretation than an average treaty. This brief chapter can
only list the main reasons without further elaboration.
– the unusual methods of work at UNCLOS III (mostly informal negotiations, very
often restricted only to some delegations; drafts presented by the Chairmen of the
Main Committees and the President of the Conference, which were almost untouch-
able in the subsequent negotiations; the ‘package deal’, which linked the solutions
adopted for the territorial sea, straits and the exclusive economic zone, and other
compromises which also resulted in vague solutions and provisions);
– the complexity of the final text of the LOS Convention;
– the changes in the political and economic realities since the conclusion of UNCLOS
III;
– the adoption of the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of
the Convention19;
– the adoption of the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the
LOS Convention relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish
Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks20;
– the conclusion of many other instruments in the field of the law of the sea on a
global, regional and sub-regional basis; and
– the adoption of new national legislation.
In such a situation everyone has doubts concerning the exact meaning or scope of some
of the provisions of the LOS Convention. Clarifications very often cannot be obtained
either by the participants at UNCLOS III or by various commentators.
In this brief chapter it is not possible to review, or even list, the numerous problems
in the interpretation of various solutions and rules contained in the Convention. Two,

18 Letter of the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the Registrar of the
ITLOS, of 29 April 1998.
19 Text in: The Law of the Sea, Official Text of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10
December 1982 and the Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Conven-
tion on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 with Index and excerpts from the Final Act of the Third
United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, UN Pub. Sales No. E.97.V.10, 1997, pp. 215ff.
20 UN doc. A/CONF.164/37.
44 4 – ITLOS AND THE PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

which may be relevant to coastal states in every sea, but particularly in those narrow,
‘enclosed or semi-enclosed’ seas, will be mentioned here.
The first problem concerns the situation created by the omission from the LOS
Convention of any rule on the delimitation of the contiguous zone between states with
opposite or adjacent coasts.21 The rule contained in Article 24, paragraph 3 of the 1958
Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone was not incorporated into
the LOS Convention and it has not been replaced by any other rule in the new Conven-
tion. The problem of the delimitation of the contiguous zone was raised on several
occasions at UNCLOS III, and there was no public decision of the competent bodies
of the Conference not to draft and adopt a rule on the delimitation of the contiguous
zone.22 Such a rule would have been more necessary in 1982 than in 1958, due to the
fact that the contiguous zone is no longer defined as ‘a zone of the high seas’ and the
addition of a new field of control of the coastal state in its contiguous zone. Under the
LOS Convention only the coastal state is entitled to control traffic of archaeological and
historical objects found on the seabed of its contiguous zone. Taking into account this
exclusive competence of the coastal state, the delimitation of the contiguous zone of the
states with opposite or adjacent coasts becomes more important than before, when some
argued that the contiguous zones of two or more coastal states should not necessarily
be delimited. According to such views, coastal states could exercise their competencies
with respect to customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary regulations in the same marine
area, which each of them considered their own contiguous zone.23
It would be interesting to hear from an international court or tribunal what is the
result of the application of Article 311, paragraph 1 of the LOS Convention in this case.
Should the rule that the LOS Convention prevails, as between the states parties, over
the Geneva Conventions, be interpreted as the non-applicability in their relations of the
delimitation rule from the 1958 Geneva Convention? Or, should this rule continue to
be applied, as the LOS Convention only ‘prevails’ over the Geneva Convention, but does
not contain a different provision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone – meaning
there is no reason for the non-applicability of the 1958 rule?
The second problem I will mention has recently been ably analysed by Alex Oude
Elferink.24 It concerns the consequences of the poorly drafted paragraph 3 of Article
121, which denies ‘rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of
their own’ the right to have an exclusive economic zone or a continental shelf. This rule

21 Art. 33 of the LOS Convention contains all the rules on the contiguous zone, except the rule on the
archaeological and historical objects on the seabed of the zone, which is contained in Art. 303(2).
22 See B. Vukas, ‘The LOS Convention and Sea Boundary Delimitation’, in B. Vukas (ed.), Essays on the
New Law of the Sea (Zagreb: University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, 1985), pp. 156-164.
23 Ibid., pp. 155-156, 157 and 159.
24 A.G. Oude Elferink, ‘Clarifying Art. 121(3) of the Law of the Sea Convention: The Limits Set by the Nature
of International Legal Processes’, Boundary and Security Bulletin, Vol. 6, 1998, pp. 58-68.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 45

was formulated at UNCLOS III, on the basis of a Romanian working paper submitted
to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Seabed and Ocean Floor beyond the Limits
of National Jurisdiction in 1973, when Romania proposed that ‘islets and small islands,
uninhabited and without economic life, which are situated on the continental shelf of
the coast, do not possess any of the shelf or other marine spaces of the same nature’.25
A slightly different proposal was repeated by the same state at the Second Session of
UNCLOS III,26 and a similar draft article was proposed by Turkey.27 Although the
idea of the division of islands in respect of their right to maritime zones, and the intro-
duction of the vague criteria concerning human habitation or economic life, were heavily
criticised in the Second Committee of the Conference,28 the original Romanian ideas
were maintained in the final text of the Convention.
All the discussions at UNCLOS III in public meetings, the reconstruction of the
preparatory work of Article 121 done by the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the
Law of the Sea,29 and the similar efforts of outstanding commentators,30 do not reveal
either the majority of states supporting that provision, or the real meaning of the inappro-
priate expressions used in Article 121, paragraph 3. (In its final version, the article states:
‘Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have
no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf’.)
Be that as it may, the terms used in that rule raise a number of questions: Can a
lighthouse be considered as sustaining ‘human habitation’? Does ‘economic life’ neces-
sarily include production of food? Does this expression mean economic activities which
would make the people inhabiting the rock self-sufficient? What is the relationship
between the size of the rock and the two conditions in paragraph 3 of Article 121? The
last question I borrow from Oude Elferink: Is the reference to ‘or’ between ‘human
habitation’ and ‘economic life’ to be interpreted as being conjunctive or disjunctive?31
Finally, we should turn to some examples of interpretation offered by the first case
before the Law of the Sea Tribunal – the M/V Saiga case. In its Judgement of 4 Decem-
ber 199732 the Tribunal had to interpret Article 292 of the LOS Convention dealing
with the prompt release of vessels and crews, taking particularly into account the applicab-

25 UN doc. A/AC.138/SC.II/L.53.
26 UN doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/L.53.
27 UN doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/L.55.
28 Official Records of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Vol. II, UN Pub. Sales
No. E.75.V.4, Summary records of meetings, Second Committee, 39th meeting, paras. 29-81; 40th meeting,
paras. 1-58.
29 The Law of the Sea, Regime of Islands, Legislative History of Part VIII (Art. 121) of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea, UN Pub. Sales No. E.87.V.11, 1988.
30 S.N. Nandan, Sh. Rosenne and N.R. Grandy (eds.), United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982:
A Commentary, Vol. III (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996), pp. 326-339.
31 Oude Elferink, ‘Clarifying Art. 121(3)’, p. 59.
32 ITLOS, Year 1997, 4 December 1997, The M/V Saiga (St. Vincent and the Grenadines v. Guinea), Judgment.
46 4 – ITLOS AND THE PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF THE SEA

ility of Article 73 concerning the enforcement of laws and regulations of the coastal state.
In doing so, the Tribunal accepted the interpretation according to which bunkering of
fishing vessels is considered as an activity ancillary to fishing. Therefore, the vessel
detained for having violated the laws prohibiting bunkering of fishing vessels should
be promptly released upon the posting of reasonable bond or other security. Moreover,
the Tribunal decided that the ship and its crew had to be released, although a bond or
other security had been neither posted nor offered or required.
On 20 February 1998 the parties agreed to submit the merits of the case to the
Tribunal. According to the views of the parties, the Tribunal shall have to express its
opinion on a wide range of issues relating to the regime of the exclusive economic zone.
As it appears, the most important will be the interpretation of this regime in respect of
bunkering of foreign fishing vessels in the exclusive economic zone of a third state. The
question is whether such an activity can be classified as an independent economic activity,
or is part of the freedom of navigation available to foreign vessels in all economic zones.

3. THE TRIBUNAL AND THE PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW


OF THE SEA

The Law of the Sea Tribunal cannot play a role in the ‘progressive development’ of the
law of the sea in the sense this term has been referred to in Article 13, paragraph 1(a)
of the UN Charter, and subsequently interpreted by the Statute of the International Law
Commission and the Commission itself.33 However, this does not mean that the Tribunal
cannot contribute to the development of international law; it only means that its contribu-
tion must be done in a way appropriate to a judicial organ. Commenting on the contribu-
tion of the ICJ, its President, Stephen Schwebel says that

“its contributions to the development of international law are inherently different from the process
of codification and progressive development of international law by such bodies as the Inter-
national Law Commission or by international conventions.”34

On the basis of paragraph 1 of Article 293 ITLOS applies the LOS Convention ‘and
other rules of international law not incompatible with this Convention’, as do the ICJ

33 Art. 16 of the Statute of the ILC. ‘The drafters of the Statute conceived progressive development as a
conscious effort towards the creation of new rules of international law, whether by means of the regulation
of a new topic or by means of the comprehensive revision of existing rules’. The Work of the International
Law Commission, p. 13.
34 S.M. Schwebel, ‘The Contribution of the International Court of Justice to the Development of International
Law’, paper presented at The Hague’s 750th Anniversary International Law Conference, ‘The Hague, Legal
Capital of the World’, 4 July 1998, p. 3.
II – SOURCES OF THE LAW OF THE SEA 47

and the arbitral tribunals listed in the Convention. The Tribunal cannot change any of
these rules, but its judgements, orders and advisory opinions could be a source of inspira-
tion for the adoption of new conventional rules, and a contribution to the crystallisation
of new customary norms in the field of the law of the sea and in other domains of
international law. Moreover, the general and vague language of some of the provisions
of the LOS Convention brings the role of the Tribunal in the settlement of certain
particular disputes close to the development of the law of the sea. Thus, for example,
in disputes concerning the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental
shelf between states with opposite or adjacent coasts – due to the quite useless paragraph
1 of Articles 74 and 83, respectively – there is almost nothing to ‘interpret or apply’.
In light of the vague instructions contained in this provision, there is ample space for
the creative role of the competent courts and tribunals.

4. CONCLUSION: FUTURE TASKS

I would like to close this short discussion by listing some more general questions which
should be clarified through the activity of the Law of the Sea Tribunal. These could all
be characterised as matters of interpretation or clarification of the law of the sea; for
the most part, they have arisen as the Law of the Sea Convention begins to be applied
to actual situations:
– the application of the rule that the LOS Convention shall prevail, as between states
parties, over the 1958 Geneva Conventions;35
– the determination of the relation of the LOS Convention with other law of the sea
conventional rules in the light of the confusing provisions on the subject in the
Convention;36
– the characterisation of some of the institutions, principles and rules of the law of
the sea as customary international law;
– the possibility of classifying some of the law of the sea principles and rules as jus
cogens, i.e., as peremptory norms of international law; and
– the determination, to the extent possible and desirable, of the delimitation between
the ‘law of the sea’ and other parts of international law, such as environmental law,
air and space law, or demilitarisation, to name a few.

35 Art. 311(1) of the LOS Convention.


36 See ibid., Art. 311(2–5) and Art. 237.
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III – RELATION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA TO OTHER
FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
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Chapter 5

THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF


TREATIES*

1. INTRODUCTION

1. As the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) is
considered one of the most important, most complex and most extensive treaties ever
concluded, it is not surprising that also from the point of view of the law of treaties it
contains many interesting solutions.1 Although some of them may be unusual, vague
and/or confusing, they all have been adopted in the interest of achieving a successful
result at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III).
Yet, these results were not satisfactory for all States. The most important proved to be
the dissatisfaction of industrialized countries with the provisions on the exploration and
exploitation of the international sea-bed area (Area) and, except Iceland, they desisted
from ratifying the Convention. Thus, there was a danger that the Convention enters into
force only on the basis of the ratifications of developing States. This would have pre-
vented the correct application of the entire legal order of the oceans as conceived at
UNCLOS III. Such an outcome after twenty years of United Nations activities in revising
the law of the sea was disliked by both the developing as well as developed countries.
Therefore, in 1990 they engaged in negotiations, which after four years resulted in the
Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the LOS Convention.2 The
adoption of the 1994 Agreement made possible the participation in the Convention of
industrialized States. The Convention entered into force on 16 November 1994, and as
of 1 April 1998 it has 125 States parties. The Agreement entered into force on 28 July
1996, and it has 86 parties.3

* First published in Liber amicorum Günther Jaenicke – Zum 85. Geburtstag, (Volkmar Götz, Peter
Selmer, Rüdiger Wolfrum, eds.), Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York/Barcelona/Hongkong/London/
Mailand/Paris/Singapur/ Tokio, 1998.
1 UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. XVII, 151 et seq., (Doc. A/CONF.-62/122).
2 Law of the Sea Bulletin, Special Issue IV, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of
Legal Affairs, 16 November 1994.
3 Status of the LOS Convention of 10 December 1982 and the Agreement relating to the implementation
of Part XI of the Convention, adopted by the General Assembly on 28 July 1994; information received
from Internet: http://www.un.org/Depts/los.
52 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

2. In this brief study dedicated to Professor Günther Jaenicke, one of the most
distinguished founding fathers of the LOS Convention, we can not deal with all the
interesting provisions of the LOS Convention relevant to the law of treaties, and mostly
contained in art XVII – Final Provisions. All the topics usually treated at the end of an
international treaty are contained in Part XVII. It contains interesting solutions the
participants at UNCLOS III deemed appropriate for the “Charter of the Ocean” they
drafted. An appropriate scrutiny of all the provisions on signature, ratification, accession,
entry into force, reservations and exceptions, declarations and statements, amendments,
denunciation, etc., would require a whole monograph. That is why we will limit our
research to some of the outstanding features of the international instruments which are
the result and consequence of UNCLOS III: The LOS Convention itself, the Final Act
of UNCLOS III and the 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of
the LOS Convention. Although these instruments do not possess the same legal nature,
and are not adopted at the same time, they represent an integral whole.

2. SOURCES OF THE LAW TREATIES

3. Before dealing with any particular law-of-treaties question, it is indispensable to clarify


which are the sources of the law of treaties applicable to the LOS Convention and the
related instruments. In addition to customary international law and general principles
of law, the only other possible sources are the two codification conventions: the 1969
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties4 and the 1986 Vienna Convention on the
Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International
Organizations.5 Customary international law has been developed primarily on the basis
of and for inter-State treaties. However, as it has been proved in the course of the
conclusion of the Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties, the majority of its rules
are applicable also to treaties concluded between other subjects of international law. The
1969 Vienna Convention applies to “international agreements concluded between States
in written form and governed by international law” (article 2 para. 1 lit. a), while the
1986 Convention applies to international agreements governed by international law and
concluded in written form (i) between one or more States and one or more international
organizations, or (ii) between international organizations (article 2 para. 1 lit. a). Both
Conventions affirm that the rules of customary international law will continue to govern
questions not regulated by their provisions.6

4 UNTS Vol. 1155 No. 18232.


5 ILM 25 (1986), 543.
6 Eighth preambular paragraph of the 1969 Convention; fifteenth preambular paragraph of the 1986 Convention.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 53

4. However, it has to be pointed out at the outset that the status of the two Vienna
Conventions is not the same. The 1969 Convention entered into force on 27 January
1980, and there are 84 States parties (21 May 1998) to the Convention.7 On the other
hand, the 1986 Convention has not yet entered into force.8 Therefore, on the basis of
its article 4 – “Non-retroactivity of the present Convention”, its application to all the
mentioned relevant instruments on the law of the sea is excluded:

“Without prejudice to the application of any rules set forth in the present Convention to which
treaties between one or more States and one or more international organisations or between
international organisations would be subject under international law independently of the
Convention, the Convention applies only to such treaties concluded after the entry into force
of the present Convention with regard to those States and those organisations” (emphasis added).

Thus, the rules of the 1986 Convention are applicable to the already concluded treaties
only in so far as they reflect customary international law.
While the direct application of the 1986 Convention is eliminated due to the fact
that it is not yet in force, the applicability of the 1969 Convention has to be tested on
the basis of the time of its entry into force and the subjects of international law which
are parties for the mentioned law of the sea instruments.

3. PARTICIPATION IN UNCLOS III

5. Before the commencement of the Conference, the United Nations General Assembly
invited only States to participate in UNCLOS III.9 Interested inter-governmental and
non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations Council for Namibia were
invited to participate in the Conference as observers.10 In the course of the Conference
some associated States and territories which only enjoyed full internal self-government
recognized by the United Nations as well as national liberation movements were also
invited to attend the sessions of the Conference.11

7 http://www.un.org./Depts/Treaty.
8 Ibid.
9 See para. 1 of A/RES/3067 (XXVIII) of 16 November 1973.
10 See paras 8 and 9 of A/RES/3029 (XXVII) of 18 December 1972 and para. 8 of A/RES/3067 (XXVIII),
see note 9.
11 UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. I, 165 et seq.; A/RES/3334 (XXIX) of 17 December 1974. See also
paras 10 and 11 of the Final Act of UNCLOS III, Doc. A/CONF.62/121 of 27 October 1982.
54 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

However, on March 6, 1980, the Conference decided to grant Namibia, represented


by the UN Council for Namibia, the status of a participant in UNCLOS III.12 On April
30, 1982, in the voting for the adoption of the Convention, not only States, but also
Namibia took part. Furthermore, some of the entities participating in the Conference as
observers have also been allowed to sign, ratify (“formally confirm”, in the case of
international organisations) or accede to the Convention. According to article 305, the
right to become party to the Convention has been granted to: Namibia (represented by
the UN Council for Namibia); associated States and territories which enjoy full internal
self-government and which have competence over the matters governed by the Conven-
tion, including the competence to enter into treaties in respect of those matters; inter-
national (inter-governmental) organizations to which its member States have transferred
competence over matters governed by the Convention, including the competence to enter
into treaties in respect of those matters.13 Some of the entities belonging to these
categories signed (UN Council for Namibia, Cook Islands, Niue, European Community)
and the Cook Islands, Namibia and Tonga have even ratified the LOS Convention. The
1994 Agreement is open to all those categories of entities listed in the LOS Convention
(article 3). Namibia is no more specially mentioned as in the meantime it became an
independent State. For the time being, Cook Islands and Tonga are parties to the Agree-
ment.
6. Taking into account all these facts, it is obvious that the LOS Convention as well
as the 1994 Agreement are international agreements “concluded between States and other
subjects of international law” to which, according to its article 3, the 1969 Vienna
Convention on the Law of the Treaties, does not apply. However, the same article
provides:

“The fact that the present Convention does not apply to international agreements concluded
between States and other subjects of international law ... shall not affect: ... (c) the application
of the Convention to the relations of States as between themselves under international agreements
to which other subjects of international law are also parties”.

Notwithstanding this possibility, the application of the 1969 Vienna Convention to the
relations of States as between themselves in respect of the LOS Convention raises some
doubts which are caused by article 4 of the Vienna Convention providing that “... the

12 The decision was taken upon A/RES/34/92 of 13 December 1975. UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. XIII, 4.
See also para. 12 of the Final Act of UNCLOS III in: United Nations, The Law of the Sea, Official Text
of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea with Index and Final Act of the Third United Nations
Conference on the Law of the Sea, 161.
13 Arts 305 para. 1, 306 and 307 of the LOS Convention and article 1 of Annex IX to the Convention (Participa-
tion by International Organizations).
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 55

Convention applies only to treaties which are concluded by States after the entry into
force of the present Convention with regard to such States”.
The first problem of the interpretation of article 4 has been commented upon by
several authors: is the Vienna Convention applicable only to treaties concluded exclusively
by States with regard to which the Vienna Convention has entered into force? Has the
phrase “such States” at the end of article 4 to be interpreted as meaning “all such States”?
For O’Connel and Thirlway the Vienna Convention will govern those treaties which are
concluded by States all of whom are bound by the Convention.14 Contrary to this inter-
pretation of article 4 as a general participation clause (clausula si omnes), Vierdag is
of the opinion that “the Convention does not itself preclude its application to the treaties,
only some of whose parties are parties to the Convention”.15 This view was expressed
also by Blix, the representative of Sweden, a State co-sponsor of the proposal which
subsequently became article 4 of the Convention.16
As it has already been said, article 3 lit. c permits the application of the Convention
only to relations of some of the parties (States) to a treaty as between themselves, in
the case of different subjects of international law being parties to the same treaty. It
would, therefore, be inconsistent to adopt a general participation clause in the case when
only States conclude a treaty, and not all of them are parties to the 1969 Vienna Conven-
tion. Such a clause would render the application of the Vienna Convention to multilateral
treaties almost impossible. The participation in a treaty of only one State non-party to
the Vienna Convention or the denunciation of the Convention by a former party would
make the Vienna Convention inapplicable to a multilateral treaty. Vierdag is correct in
claiming that such an interpretation of article 4 “could be qualified as ‘unreasonable’
under article 32 of the Convention, as they would be almost prejudicial to the object
and purpose of the Convention”.17
7. Independently of the doctrine which is concerned with the possible “general
participation clause” interpretation, some delegates at the Conference on the Law of
Treaties pointed to another vagueness in article 4: the restriction of the application of
the Convention to “treaties which are concluded” after the entry into force of the Vienna
Convention. Their worries were caused by the fact that ‘‘conclusion” under Part II, section
I of the Convention comprises several stages in establishing a treaty: from the drawing

14 D.P. O’Connel, International Law, Vol. 1, 1970, 205; H. Thirlway, International Customary Law and
Codification, 1972, 108.
15 E.W. Vierdag, “The Law Governing Treaty Relations between Parties to the Vienna Convention on the
Law of Treaties and States Not Party to the Convention”, AJIL 76 (1982), 786. In the same sense: J. Sinclair,
The Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties, 1983, 9; J. King Gamble Jr./M. Frankowska, “The Signi-
ficance of Signature to the 1982 Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea”, ODILA 14 (1984), 126.
16 United Nations Conference on Law of the Treaties (UNCLT), Official Records, Second Session, (A/CONF.39/
11/Add. 1), 166 et seq.
17 Vierdag, see note 15, 785.
56 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

up and adoption of the text of a treaty to the consent to be bound by it. A State has
“concluded” a treaty when it has passed all these stages and has consented to be bound
by the treaty, i.e. when it becomes a “contracting State” or “party” in the sense of article
2 para. 1 lit. f and 2 para. 1 lit. g of the Convention.18
Pinto, the delegate of Ceylon pleaded “It would be better to speak of the establishment
of the text of a treaty as the point of reference for application of the Convention”.19
Since the notion of the “conclusion” of a treaty had not been defined in the Convention,
for the Swiss delegate Bindschedler it remained ambiguous; he therefore suggested to
replace this notion in article 4 by that of “signature” or “ratification”.20 There were no
reactions from other delegations to these comments and warnings, and the term “con-
cluded”, without any further precision, remained in the final text.
The application of article 4 will not cause problems in cases where all the stages
of the conclusion of a treaty were undertaken after the entry into force of the Vienna
Convention. On the contrary, its application to acts already performed by a State before
the entry of the Convention into force with regard to that State, would be a violation
of the general rule on non-retroactivity of treaties, contained in article 28 of the Vienna
Convention.

“Unless a different intention appears from the treaty or is otherwise established, its provisions
do not bind a party in relation to any act or fact which took place or any situation which ceased
to exist before the date of the entry into force of the treaty with respect to that party”.

The logical consequence of this principle should be the application of the 1969 Vienna
Convention only in respect to those acts relating to the conclusion of a treaty performed
by a State after the entry into force of the Convention with regard to this State. This
conclusion is relevant in the case of the LOS Convention, is the Vienna Convention
entered into force only on 27 January 1980 (only in respect of 35 States), i.e. in the course
of the negotiations at UNCLOS III. At the time of adoption of the LOS Convention (30
April 1982), the Vienna Convention was in force only in respect of 42 participants in
UNCLOS III; on the date the LOS Convention was opened for signature (10 December
1982), 43 States were bound by the Vienna Convention, and on the last day the LOS
Convention was opened for signature (9 December 1984), the number of parties to the
Vienna Convention increased to 44. At the moment of its entry into force (16 November
1994), 50 States parties to the LOS Convention were parties to the 1969 Vienna Conven-
tion, and at the end of 1997 (23 December), 62 States were party to both Conventions.21
Any of these stages of the conclusion of the LOS Convention cannot be governed by

18 See P. Reuter, Introduction au droit des traités, 1972, 64-65.


19 UNCLT, Official Records, Second Session, 319, para. 27. See also Pinto’s intervention at 338, para. 6, ibid.
20 Ibid. at 330, para. 10.
21 See notes 3, 7 and 8.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 57

the provisions of the Vienna Convention (relative to full powers, adoption and authentica-
tion, signature) in respect of any State which became party to the Vienna Convention
after the completion of a particular stage of conclusion.
8. On the basis of the above analysis, our conclusion is that as far as the LOS
Convention is concerned, the 1969 Vienna Convention is applicable to the relations of
States parties to the Vienna Convention as between themselves. However, the Vienna
Convention governs only the acts of a State performed in the conclusion of the LOS
Convention after the entry into force of the Vienna Convention for this particular State.
The facts that the 1969 Vienna Convention entered into force only in 1980 and that it
still is not in force for the majority of the parties to the LOS Convention, considerably
reduce its applicability even to the relations between States themselves.
9. The fact that only the 1969 Vienna Convention partially applies to the LOS
Convention, does not mean that the results of the codification and progressive develop-
ment of the law of treaties do not have a great significance for the relations between
all the different subjects of international law – parties to the LOS Convention. The
drafting of the 1986 Vienna Convention demonstrated that the international community
does not hesitate to apply to treaties concluded by other subjects of international law
rules originally developed in respect of treaties concluded between States, except in the
case where the specific nature of these subjects requires the elaboration of special rules.
Thus, the 1986 Vienna Convention is a replica of the 1969 Convention, with the changes
and addenda required for the specific characteristics of international organizations.
Moreover, many of the rules contained in the Vienna Conventions represent customary
international law applicable to international agreements concluded between all the subjects
of international law. This has been confirmed in article 3 lit. b of both Vienna Conven-
tions, which confirm the applicability of some of the rules set forth in the Conventions
on the basis of international law independently of these Conventions.
Having in mind the general applicability of the solutions contained in the 1969 Vienna
Convention, even in the perspective of admitting the participation of other entities besides
States, UNCLOS III abundantly used the solutions contained in this Convention while
drafting the preamble and the final clauses of the LOS Convention. Thus, the following
was said in the basic document on the subject, prepared by the Secretariat of the Confer-
ence:

“References are made in the foot-notes to various provisions of the Vienna Convention on the
Law of the Treaties, done at Vienna on 23 May 1969. That Convention is not yet in force ...
but on many points it represents the views of States as to the existing law”.22

22 Doc. A/CONF.62/L.73 in: UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. VI, 125, para. 4. See also: B.H. Oxman,
“The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: The Eighth Session (1979)”, AJIL 74 (1980),
33.
58 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

The entry into force of the 1969 Vienna Convention only reinforces the opinion that
the solution it embodies represents general customary international law.

4. THE CONTEXT OF THE LOS CONVENTION

10. As already mentioned, the results of UNCLOS III are incorporated in two instruments:
the LOS Convention and the Final Act of UNCLOS III. The first was adopted on 30
April 1982 and the second on 24 September 1982. Both instruments were opened for
signature on 10 December 1982. The Final Act was signed by 144 entities entitled to
become party to the Convention under its article 305, and five entities with observer
status at the Conference. In the two years the Convention was opened for signature, it
was signed by 159 States and other entities entitled to become party.23 The text of the
Convention comprises the preamble, the operative part and nine Annexes.24 Article 318
of the Convention makes clear that these Annexes form its integral part.
Seven Annexes and an Appendix (listing the observers that participated at sessions
of the Conference) are added to the Final Act.25 Annex I itself comprises four resolu-
tions.26 These four resolutions, according to para. 42 of the Final Act, are “forming
an integral whole” with the Convention; they were adopted already with the Convention
itself, i.e. on 30 April 1982. The reason for this linkage was the fact that all these
resolutions contain provisions in different ways complementing the system established
by the Convention.

23 United Nations, Law of the Sea Bulletin, 6 (1985), 5.


24 Annex I: Highly Migratory Species; Annex II: Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf; Annex
III: Basic Conditions of Prospecting, Exploration and Exploitation; Annex IV: Statute of the Enterprise;
Annex V: Conciliation; Annex VI: Statute of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; Annex VII:
Arbitration; Annex VIII: Special Arbitration; Annex IX: Participation by International Organizations.
25 For the contents of Annex I to the Final Act see note 26; Annex II: Statement of Understanding concerning
a specific method to be used in establishing the outer edge of the continental margin; Annex III: Tribute
to Simón Bolívar the Liberator; Annex IV: Resolution expressing gratitude to the President; the Government
and the officials of Venezuela; Annex V: Tribute to the Amphictyonic. Congress of Panama, Annex VI:
Resolution on development of national marine science, technology and ocean service infrastructures; Annex
VII: Resolution expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister,
the Government and officials of Jamaica. Some U.N. publications do not reflect correctly the decision
concerning the adoption of this resolution, taken at the 192nd meeting of the Plenary on 9 December 1982.
UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. XVII, 132, para. 230; ibid., 139 et seq. (Doc. A/CONF.62/121); The
Law of the Sea, see note 12, 173-174.
26 Resolution I: Establishment of the Preparatory Commission for the International Seabed Authority and for
the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; Resolution II: Governing preparatory investment in pioneer
activities relating to polymetallic nodules; Resolution III: (on the rights of non-self-governing territories);
Resolution IV: (entitling national liberation movements which participated in UNCLOS III to sign the Final
Act).
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 59

11. Resolution I annexed to the Final Act represented the definite decision of the
Conference to establish the Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed
Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. After its adoption,
the only remaining condition for the commencement of the work of the Preparatory
Commission was the signature or accession to the Convention by 50 States. Signatories
to the Convention were members of the Commission, while signatories of the Final Act
could only participate in the deliberations of the Commission as observers; they were
not entitled to participate in the taking of decisions.27
In accordance with the above provisions, the Preparatory Commission started its
activities in 1983, and it remained in existence until ‘‘the conclusion of the first session
of the Assembly”.28 Thus, its existence was ended in 1995, when the first session of
the Assembly of the International Sea-Bed Authority was concluded.
The Preparatory Commission is referred to in the Convention itself and it is incor-
porated in the system of exploration and exploitation of the Area. “The rules, regulations
and procedures drafted by the Preparatory Commission shall apply provisionally pending
their formal adoption by the Authority ...” (article 308 para. 4).29 On the other hand,
the Authority and its organs shall act in accordance with resolution II “relating to the
preparatory investment and with decisions of the Preparatory Commission taken pursuant
to that resolution” (article 308 para. 5). This last quotation shows that the provisions
of the Convention and resolution II really form “an integral whole” regarding the explora-
tion and exploitation of the Area. This resolution not only complements the system
established by the Convention, but in some respects it is considered even to have amended
the Convention’s provisions.30 The application of resolution II begun after the establish-
ment of the Preparatory Commission and the results achieved in the twelve years of its
work can be considered as a normative addition to the Convention. For all its character-
istics, it is not surprising what Tullio Treves concludes about resolution II:

“bien qu’il ait été adopté en tant que résolution, it ne semble pas y avoir de doute que la nature
juridique de ce document est celle d’un véritable accord international conclu en forme simplifiée.
Cela ressort du contenu de la résolution no. 2 qui prévoit des droits et des obligations pour les
Etats qui sont liés par elle”.31

27 Final Act, Resolution I, paras 1 and 2.


28 Ibid., para. 13.
29 See also article 11 para. 3 lit. c of Annex IV to the Convention “Statute of the Enterprise”.
30 See T. Treves, “La protection des investissements préparatoires et la résolution no. 2 de la Conférence sur
le Droit de la mer”, AFDI 28 (1982), 855.
31 Ibid., 854.
60 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

He finds an additional argument in favour of the obligatory nature of resolution II in


its link with resolution I; this last instrument, as all others creating preparatory organs
of international organizations, certainly is an international obligatory instrument.32
In respect of both resolutions I and II, Daniel Vignes is also of the opinion that they
contain “obligatory norms” and that they possess “the character of an international
conventional act”.33
12. Resolution III represents a decision of UNCLOS [III] that “provisions concerning
rights and interests under the Convention shall be implemented for the benefit” of the
peoples of territories which “have not attained full independence or other self-governing
status recognized by the United Nations” and territories under “colonial domination”.
The interests and needs of peoples who have not attained full independence or other self-
governing status are expressly mentioned in article 140 para. 1 of the Convention, defining
the principle that the activities in the Area shall be carried out for the benefit of mankind
as a whole. In accordance with resolution III, the interests and needs of the peoples of
these territories should be also taken into account in the application of some other
provisions of the Convention, e.g. in the distribution of the payments and contributions
with respect to the exploitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (article
82 para. 4).
Be that as it may, it is obvious that resolution III also represents a permanent com-
ponent of the international legal order established by the LOS Convention.
13. Resolution IV literally contains only the permission for national liberation move-
ments, which participated in the Conference as observers, to sign the Final Act. The
consequence of the signature is determined by the Convention itself: observers who have
signed the Final Act and who are not entitled to become parties to the Convention “shall
have the right to participate in the Authority as observers, in accordance with its rules,
regulations and procedures” (article 156 para. 3). Moreover, they had the right to be
observers in the Preparatory Commission (Final Act, Annex I, resolution I para. 2).
14. All these substantive and permanent links of the Convention and the four resolu-
tions contained in Annex I to the Final Act, adopted together with the Convention, bring
us to the conclusion that the provisions contained in these resolutions have not a value
of mere recommendations or of any form of “soft law”: they were conceived as obligatory
rules for all the participants in UNCLOS III and the parties to the LOS Convention.
Moreover, contrary to the Convention, whose application depended upon its entry into
force, the application of the major part of these resolutions did not depend on any event
subsequent to their adoption on 30 April 1982 and the signature of the two instruments
on 10 December 1982. Thus, all these resolutions are binding decisions for the participants

32 Ibid., 855.
33 D. Vignes “Notes sur la terminaison des travaux de la IIIème Conférence sur le droit de la mer et sur la portée
des textes adoptés à Montego Bay le 10 décembre 1982”, AFDI 28 (1982), 803.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 61

in an international conference. In this “no man’s land between the law of the treaties
and the law relating to international conferences” (Johnson),34 we venture to suggest
that these four resolutions are to be considered international agreements. Although
concluded in a specific, simplified form, they contain all the main elements required for
international agreements: (a) they are concluded between subjects of international law;
(b) they manifest that the intent of these subjects was to create legal rights and obliga-
tions; (c) they are governed by international law.35 There is abundant authority in favour
of the claim that the form given to the conclusions of international conferences is of no
significance for determining whether a particular instrument constitutes in substance an
international agreement or not.36 A passage in the advisory opinion given by the Perma-
nent Court of International Justice in the Austro-German Customs Régime case has been
interpreted as supporting this view:

“From the standpoint of the obligatory character of international engagements, it is well known
that such engagements may be taken in the form of treaties, conventions, declarations, agree-
ments, protocols or exchanges of notes”.37

As far as the specific form of “resolution” is concerned, international practice also offers
examples of its use in the conclusion of international agreements.38
15. The four resolutions contained in Annex I are not the only parts of the Final Act
having a substantial link with the LOS Convention. Annex II contains the Statement of
Understanding concerning a specific method to be used in establishing the outer edge
of the continental margin, which is a substantive addendum to article 76 of the Convention
and as such it must be taken into account by the Commission on the Limits of the
Continental Shelf in its recommendations concerning the establishment of the outer edge
of the continental margins in the southern part of the Bay of Bengal.39 Therefore,
although not adopted together with the Convention (as the four resolutions in Annex
I to the Final Act), but five months later with the entire text of the Final Act it is obvious
that the Statement of Understanding also forms an “integral whole” with the LOS Conven-
tion. From the above conclusions concerning the four resolutions, it follows that the
Statement of Understanding should also be considered an international agreement. John

34 D.H.N. Johnson, “The Conclusions of International Conferences”, BYIL 35 (1964), 1.


35 Cf: article 2 para. 1 lit. a of both Vienna Conventions. See also: Johnson, see note 34, 3-4 and 30-31; A.D.
McNair, The Law of Treaties, 1961, 3-4; Ch. Rousseau, Droit International Public, Vol. I, 1970, 63; Reuter,
see note 18, 39-45.
36 Johnson, see note 34, 5. See also commentary of the International Law Commision (ILC) on its definition
of the terms “treaty” and “treaty in simplified form”, in: ILCYB 1962, Vol. II, 161-163; 1966, Vol. II, 188-
189.
37 PCIJ, Series A/B, No. 41, 47. See D.P. Myers, “The Names and Scope of Treaties”, AJIL 51 (1957), 574.
38 See G.H. Hackworth, Digest of International Law, Vol. V, 1943, 33-35.
39 See article 3 para. 1 lit. (a) of Annex II to the LOS Convention.
62 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

King Gamble Jr. and Maria Frankowska, who are of the opinion that the Final Act in
general “has some characteristics of a treaty” and that it “created legal rights and obliga-
tions”, in respect of the Statement of Understanding separately stress that it “has many
of the characteristics of a treaty”.40
16. Even not all the remaining parts of the Final Act are a mere report on the history
of UNCLOS III. Annex VI comprises the Resolution on development of national marine
science, technology and ocean service infrastructures. The Resolution embodies several
recommendations of the Conference to all the Member States of the United Nations and
to international organizations. The remaining four Annexes contain resolutions expressing
gratitude, paying tribute to personalities, governments or historic events. However, one
of the references to the events at UNCLOS III comprised in the Final Act deserves to
be mentioned in the context of this article. Namely, para. 38 of the Final Act, refers to
the decision taken in the informal plenary of the Conference at the resumed tenth session
concerning the seats of the International Sea-Bed Authority and the International Tribunal
for the Law of the Sea. As correctly stated in the Final Act, the informal plenary decided
that its decision “should be incorporated in the revision of the draft of the Convention;
and that the introductory note to that revision should record the requirements agreed upon
when the decision concerning the two seats was taken (A/CONF. 62/L.78)”. The require-
ments recorded in the introductory note to document A/CONF.62/L.78 are the following:

“It should be noted that the decision on the seats of the Authority and the Tribunal were taken
by the informal plenary subject to the requirement that the States specified should have ratified
the Convention by the time of its entry into force and should remain parties to it thereafter”.41

It could be said that para. 38 of the Final Act merely refers to a decision of the partici-
pants in UNCLOS III, the results of which have been incorporated in the LOS Convention
itself: article 156 para. 4 in relation to the seat of the Authority, and article 1 para. 2,
of Annex VI to the Convention in relation to the seat of the Tribunal. However, by
signing the Final Act, which contains reference to the decision on the seats, the signatories
of the Final Act, once more confirmed the decision of the informal plenary in the form
of a written international agreement. It has to be stressed that they consented to both
elements of that decision: the choice of the seats (Jamaica/Hamburg) and “the requirement
that the States specified should have ratified that Convention by the time of its entry
into force and should remain parties to it thereafter”. However, only the first part of the
agreement – the names of the sites have been incorporated in the Convention.
17. The above overview brings us to the conclusion that the Final Act (including
its Annexes) does not have a unique legal nature. It consists of different kinds of texts;

40 King Gamble/Frankowska, see note 15, 122, 138 and 141.


41 Introductory note to Doc. A/CONF.62/L.78 in: UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. XV, 176.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 63

(a) the report on UNCLOS III; (b) international agreements, mostly concluded in the
form of resolutions; (c) expressions of gratitude and admiration; (d) recommendations
to States and international organizations. The parts of the Final Act of UNCLOS III
possessing the characteristics of conventional law are most relevant for the LOS Conven-
tion, as they “form an integral whole” with the Convention. As we have demonstrated
above, so intrinsically linked with the Convention are not only the four resolutions
contained in Annex I, which have been so qualified by the Final Act itself (para. 42).
However, not only the parts of the Final Act which can be considered conventional
law are important for the interpretation or application of the LOS Convention. All the
elements of the Final Act compose the “context” of the LOS Convention and they serve
these purposes. Namely, according to article 31 par. 2, of the 1969 Vienna Convention
on the Law of Treaties “the context for the purpose of the interpretation of a treaty shall
comprise, in addition to the text, including its preamble and annexes: (a) any agreement
relating to the treaty which was made between all the parties in connection with the
conclusion of the treaty; (b) any instrument which was made by one or more parties in
connection with the conclusion of the treaty and accepted by the other parties as an
instrument related to the treaty”.

5. RELATION OF THE LOS CONVENTION TO OTHER TREATIES

18. The relation of the LOS Convention to the rest of the law of the sea remains a
complex problem even if we limit our analysis only to its relationship to other treaties
in the field. Its initial relation to customary international law was determined by its
drafters, who claimed that in the Convention they achieved “the codification and pro-
gressive development of the law of the sea” (seventh preambular paragraph). Thus, in
their opinion, the Convention represents a codification of customary international law,
to which new solutions have been added. It is clear that twenty years after the drafting
of the Convention, which has already accumulated 125 ratifications/accessions, and has
considerably influenced domestic law (not only of States parties), the majority of the
rules that represented innovations at the time of UNCLOS III, can nowadays be con-
sidered general customary international law (e.g. the régime of achipelagic States, the
transit passage régime, the rules on the protection and preservation of the maritime
environment, etc.).
19. The general provisions on the relation of the LOS Convention “to other conven-
tions and international agreements” are contained in article 311, included in its Part XVII
64 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

(Final Provisions).42 In fact, only paras 2-4 are of a general nature; others deal with
the relation of the LOS Convention to particular treaties (para. 1), or with special ques-
tions (paras 5 and 6). Para. 5 confirms what is obvious from the preceding provisions
in the Convention; the relation of specific parts/provisions of the Convention to other
treaties in the field has been dealt with by other articles in the Convention:

“This article does not affect international agreements expressly permitted or preserved by other
articles of this Convention.”

Those other articles of the Convention are to be considered lex specialis in relation to
paras 2-4 of article 311. One of such provisions is to be found in Part III dealing with
straits used for international navigation.43 Article 35 lit. c provides that nothing in this
Part affects “the legal régime in straits in which passage is regulated in whole or in part
by longstanding international conventions in force specifically relating to such straits”.

20. A very important special provision on the relation of the LOS Convention to other
conventions is contained in article 311 itself. Namely, its para. 1 provides that:

“This Convention shall prevail, as between States Parties, over the Geneva Conventions on the
Law of the Sea of 29 April 1958”.

In respect of this relation three main views were expressed at UNCLOS III: (a) the new
Convention should supersede the Geneva Conventions, as they are “outmoded and
inadequate”; (b) changes should be adopted in the manner of application of the Geneva
Conventions so as to avoid incompatibility with the new Convention and the need for
abrogation of the Geneva Conventions; (c) co-existence along the lines of article 30 para.
4, of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties should be allowed between
the 1958 Conventions and the LOS Convention.44
The solution adopted in article 311 para. 1, is based on article 30 of the 1969 Vienna
Convention concerning the application of successive treaties relating to the same subject-
matter. However, it expressly deals only with the relations between States parties to the
LOS Convention who are also party to the Geneva Conventions. The solution that the
LOS Convention prevails over the Geneva Conventions is based on article 30 paras 3

42 For unknown reasons the provisions on the relation of the LOS Convention to other treaties use the terms
“conventions”, “agreements”, and “international agreements”, avoiding the generic term “treaties”, used
by the 1969 Vienna Convention (article 2 para. 1 lit. (a)).
43 See also: article 51 para. 1, article 74 para. 4; article 83. para. 4; arts 125, 197, 237 and 282.
44 UNCLOS III, Informal Group paper-Doc. FC/7 (President’s note, informal plenary on final clauses) of 9
August 1979, 2, para. 6. See also: N.S. Skourtos, “Legal Effects for Parties and Non-Parties: The Impact
of the Law of the Sea Convention”, in: M.H. Nordquist/J.N. Moore (eds), 1994 Rhodes papers – Entry
into Force of the Law of the Sea Convention, 1995, 190-191.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 65

and 4 of the Vienna Convention, according to which “the earlier treaty applies only to
the extent that its provisions are compatible with those of the later treaty”. Thus, if there
is any contradiction between the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the LOS
Conventions, the later shall be applied. A problem may arise in explaining the applicab-
ility of a provision of the Geneva Conventions which has not been replaced by another
rule in the LOS Convention. It is a question, for example, whether the non-existence
in the LOS Convention of a rule on the delimitation of the contiguous zone between
States with opposite or adjacent coasts renders article 24 para. 3, of the 1958 Convention
on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone inapplicable as between States parties
to the LOS Convention.45 It has to be stressed that the necessity of delimiting the con-
tiguous zones of neighbouring States has under the LOS Convention been reinforced
by the coastal State’s control in relation to the archeological and historical objects on
the sea-bed within its contiguous zone (article 303 para. 2), and that there was no explicit
and clear decision of UNCLOS III not to have a rule on the delimitation of the con-
tinguous zone.46
Although article 311 para. 1 does not mention the relations between States parties
to both the LOS Convention and the Geneva Conventions, and States parties only to
the Geneva Conventions, the rejection of the abrogation of the Geneva Conventions at
UNCLOS III, and the text of para. 1 contain an implied answer to this problem. It has
to be based on article 30 para. 4 lit. b of the 1969 Vienna Convention:

“When the parties to the later treaty do not include all the parties to the earlier one: ... (b) as
between a State party to both treaties and a State party to only one of the treaties, the treaty
to which both States are parties governs their mutual rights and obligations”.

Taking into account the impressive number of 125 States parties to the LOS Convention,
it may seem that the applicability of the 1958 Geneva Conventions is not a very important
issue, as none of the Geneva Conventions has more than 62 States parties. However,
it is interesting to note that comparing the lists of States parties to the LOS Convention
and the Geneva Conventions, we discover that there is a considerable number of States
parties to each of the Geneva Conventions which are not parties to the LOS Convention.
Thus, there are 18 States parties to the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Con-
tiguous Zone, 22 parties to the Convention on the High Seas, 13 parties to the Convention
on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas and 18 parties

45 See T. Treves, “Réflexions sur quelques conséquences de l’entrée en vigueur de la Convention des Nations
Unies sur le droit de la mer”, AFDI 40 (1994), 852.
46 See B. Vukas, “The LOS Convention and Sea Boundary Delimitation”, Essays on the New Law of the Sea,
Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje prava i medunarodno pravo, 18 (1985) 21, 156-164.
66 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

to the Convention on the Continental Shelf which have not become parties to the LOS
Convention.47
The reasons for not becoming parties to the LOS Convention are not known in respect
of all of the States parties to the Geneva Conventions. However, it is well known that
some of them have problems in accepting various provisions of the LOS Convention.
As this Convention is a unique instrument, covering the items dealt with by all the four
Geneva Conventions, the problem a State may have with only some of the provisions
of the LOS Convention, could prevent it to become party to this overall “Charter of the
Oceans”. This is why it could be expected, for a long time to come, that there will be
States parties to one or more Geneva Conventions, which will not become parties to the
LOS Convention.
21. While in respect of the 1958 Geneva Conventions article 311 of the LOS Conven-
tion follows the principles of the 1969 Vienna Convention concerning the application
of successive treaties relating to the same subject-matter (article 30), it claims priority
of the LOS Convention in relation to all other agreements concluded by the States parties
to this Convention. It pretends to play the role similar to the one of article 103 of the
United Nations Charter. Namely, the promise that the rights and obligations of States
parties which arise from other agreements shall not be altered, concerns only agreements
“compatible with this Convention and which do not affect the enjoyment by other States
Parties of their rights or the performance of their obligations under this Convention”
(para. 2). The LOS Convention thus pretends to prevail over all other agreements in the
field: rights and obligations of States parties to the LOS Convention arising from other
agreements may be altered by the LOS Convention if they are not compatible with the
Convention or they affect the rights or obligations of other States parties to the LOS
Convention.48 The practical consequence of this provision is the duty of States parties
of the LOS Convention to apply all their conventional obligations in accordance with
this Convention or, when this is not possible, not to apply them at all. Article 311 para.
2, does not distinguish agreements concluded exclusively among States parties to the
LOS Convention and agreements between parties and States non party to the LOS
Convention, it disregards the principle pacta tertiis nec nocent nec prosunt (article 34
of the 1969 Vienna Convention).
22. Similarly to the clumsy manner in which para. 2 establishes priority of the
Convention over all other agreements, para. 6 tries to construct the jus cogens nature
of the principle of “common heritage of mankind”:

47 Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary General, Status as at 31 December 1996, 1997, Doc. ST/
LEG.SER.E/15, 831-849 and information received form Internet: http/www.un.org/Depts/los.
48 See Skourtos, see note 44, 141-142.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 67

“State Parties agree that there shall be no amendments to the basic principle relating to the
common heritage of mankind set forth in article 136 and that they shall not be party to any
agreement in derogation thereof”.

While the second part of para. 6 is a valid obligation undertaken by the States parties,
the first part, as a treaty provision, could have only a symbolic, political effect. Namely,
by undertaking not to amend one of the principles/articles of the Convention, States parties
cannot be prevented from doing the contrary in the future. As long as this duty remains
only as a treaty provision, it can be amended by a common decision of the States parties.
The impossibility of changing the principle set forth in article 136 would be realistic
only if it could be characterized as a peremptory norm of general international law.
However, the qualification of the principle of common heritage of mankind as jus cogens
invokes the question of other principles being recognized as peremptory norms, such
as the freedom of the high seas; the access of land-locked States to and from the sea;
the reservation of the high seas for peaceful purposes, etc.
23. Contrary to the vague innovative paras 2 and 6, paras 3 and 4 of article 311 deal
with the future agreements of States parties to the LOS Convention in accordance with
the standard rules of the law of treaties. They permit to two or more States parties to
the LOS Convention to conclude agreements modifying or suspending the operation of
the LOS Convention, applicable solely to the relations between them, under the following
conditions: (a) such agreements must not relate to provisions derogation from which is
incompatible with the effective execution of the object and purposes of the LOS Conven-
tion; (b) such agreements shall not affect the application of the basic principles embodied
in this Convention; (c) the provisions of such agreements must not affect the enjoyment
by other States parties of their rights or the performance of their obligations under the
Convention; (d) States parties intending to conclude such an agreement shall notify the
other States parties through the depository of this Convention of their intention to con-
clude the agreement and of the modification or suspension for which it provides. The
conditions set forth for the conclusion of the agreements envisaged in article 311 paras
3 and 4 are based on article 41 of the 1969 Vienna Convention.

6. THE LOS CONVENTION AND THE 1994 AGREEMENT

24. From the point of view of the law of the treaties, the 1994 Agreement relating to
the implementation of Part XI and its relation to the LOS Convention represents a
somewhat strange finale of the codification and progressive development of the law of
the sea in the frame of the United Nations.
As already mentioned, fearing the entry into force of the LOS Convention only for
developing States, both developing and developed States accepted the idea of amending
68 5 – LOS CONVENTION AND THE LAW OF TREATIES

the results of UNCLOS III in a way which would make possible the participation in the
LOS Convention also of developed States. In the course of the negotiations 1990-1994
on the amendments to the system adopted for the Area at UNCLOS III, several ideas
were advanced concerning the mechanisms for the adoption of the final results of the
negotiations. The main dilemma was whether formally to amend the Convention, or to
find a way for the adoption of amendments without formally intervening in the text of
Part XI.49 This second option prevailed, and a title was given to the 1994 Agreement
which does not state its exact purpose. Namely, the Agreement does not deal with the
“implementation” of Part XI as it is formulated in the LOS Convention, but it mostly
contains additions to the provisions of Part XI and rules which temporarily or permanently
substitute those from Part XI. In fact, article 2 para. 1, of the Agreement reveals the
essence of the relationship between the two treaties:

“The provisions of this Agreement and Part XI shall be interpreted and applied together as a
single instrument. In the event of any inconsistency between this Agreement and Part XI, the
provisions of this Agreement shall prevail” (emphasis added).

The “inconsistencies” so conditionally and modestly mentioned in this provision were


the main reason for concluding the Agreement. Thus, for example, the creation of a new
organ of the Authority, the Finance Committee,50 can not be qualified as a “possible
inconsistency” between Part XI and the Agreement. This can also be said for the provision
on the performance by the Secretariat of the functions of the Enterprise,51 and the pro-
vision that “as a general rule, decision-making in the organs of the Authority should be
by consensus”.52
Taking into account all the provisions of the Agreement, the purpose of which is
that all the States parties to the LOS Convention become parties to the Agreement, and
which do not offer the possibility of becoming party of the Agreement without being
party to the Convention (arts 4-7), it becomes clear that the relationship between the
Convention and the Agreement corresponds to the one envisaged in article 30 para. 3,
of the 1969 Vienna Convention concerning the application of successive treaties relating
to the same subject-matter:

“When all the parties to the earlier treaty are parties also to the later treaty but the earlier treaty
is not terminate or suspended in operation under article 59, the earlier treaty applies only to
the extent that its provisions are compatible with those of the later treaty”.

49 See D.H. Anderson, “The Mechanisms for Adjusting Part XI and their Relation to the Implementation
Agreement” in: Nordquist/Moore, see note 44, 89-97.
50 Section 9 of the Annex to the Agreement.
51 Para. 1, Section 3 of the Annex to the Agreement.
52 Para. 2, Section 3 of the Annex to the Agreement.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 69

25. Unfortunately, in this brief study we could not analyse the real impact of the pro-
visions of the Agreement for Part XI. Only such a scrutiny could demonstrate to what
an extent the provisions of the 1994 Agreement serve to the “implementation” of Part
XI, and which of them represent real amendments to Part XI and Annexes III and IV
to the Convention.
Yet, whatever conclusions we could reach in this respect, it can not be denied that
it was only the adoption of the Agreement that made possible the universal participation
in the LOS Convention and the establishment of the institutions it provides for: the
International Sea-Bed Authority (in 1994), the International Tribunal for the Law of the
Sea (in 1996) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (in 1997).
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Chapter 6

DROIT DE LA MER ET DROITS DE L’HOMME*

1. INTRODUCTION

Je dois avouer que le sujet de mon intervention à ce colloque ne relève pas de mon choix
propre. Je l’ai accepté au lieu d’un autre que j’aimais encore moins. Mon problème avec
ce sujet provient de deux caractéristiques de ce domaine du droit international. Tout
d’abord, la majorité des règles du droit de la mer concerne au moins indirectement les
droits de l’homme. Comme l’a constaté un auteur américain, on mentionne souvent
comme des sujets différents des droits de l’homme l’exploitation des ressources naturelles
et la protection de l’environnement marin.1 Mais, si on se rappelle que le droit inter-
national et le droit interne de beaucoup de pays proclament le droit de la personne
humaine à la protection centre la faim, le droit des peuples au développement et le droit
de l’individu à un environnement lui assurant une vie saine, alors on se rend compte
qu’une grande partie du droit de la mer se trouve de fait automatiquement liée aux droits
de l’homme.
Autre aspect de mon problème: c’est que dans le droit de la mer je ne trouve pas
une opposition accentuée entre les intérêts et les droits de l’individu et ceux des Etats
et de la communauté internationale. C’est peut-être à cause de cela que j’ai toujours eu
une certaine sympathie pour ce domaine du droit international.
Comme dans tous les domaines du droit international, la majorité des règles juridiques
sont adressées aux Etats. Prenons quelques exemples: l’article 62, paragraphe 1, de la
Convention sur le droit de la mer oblige l’Etat côtier à favoriser une exploitation optimale
des ressources biologiques dans la zone économique exclusive.2 L’article 210, paragraphe
1 demande aux Etats d’adopter des lois et règlements afin de prévenir, réduire et maîtriser
la pollution du milieu marin par immersion. A la base de ces règles, les questions

* Publié pour la première fois dans La Méditerranée et le droit de la mer à l’aube du 21e siècle, Actes
du colloque inaugural de la Association Internationale du Droit de la Mer, Naples, 22 et 23 Mars
2001, (sous la direction de Giuseppe Cataldi), Bruylant, Bruxelles, 2002.
1 B.H. Oxman, “Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, in Politics, Values
and Functions, International Law in the 21st Century, Essays in Honour of Professor Louis Henkin, Martinus
Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague/London/Boston, 1997, p. 379.
2 Le droit de la mer, Texte officiel de la Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer et de ses annexes
accompagné d’un index, Nations Unies, New York, 1984.
72 6 – DROIT DE LA MER ET DROITS DE L’HOMME

suivantes se posent: qu’est-ce qui pourrait dépasser l’exploitation optimale des ressources
biologiques de la zone économique exclusive?; qu’est-ce qui pourrait mettre en danger
le milieu marin par l’immersion de déchets? Oui, il se peut que ce soient les Etats, surtout
en ce qui concerne la pollution des mers par immersion. Or, le milieu marin est également
constamment dégradé par l’industrie, par des installations et différentes activités qui ne
sont pas entreprises ou contrôlées par les Etats. Ce sont précisément les personnes
physiques et différentes catégories de personnes morales qui menacent l’environnement
marin.
Avec la disparition des Etats dits “socialistes”, les structures étatiques ne sont plus
qu’indirectement coupables de la surexploitation des ressources biologiques. Mais, il est
par ailleurs très difficile de trouver des pécheurs qui tiennent compte de la survie des
stocks de poisson. C’est seulement grâce aux arrangements internationaux et au contrôle
des organes étatiques que ne disparaissent pas les stocks de certaines espèces.
Le lien presque naturel entre l’homme, la mer et l’ordre juridique pour les mers et
les océans a été encore renforcé par la troisième Conférence sur le droit de la mer et
par le résultat principal de ladite Conférence – la Convention des Nations Unies sur le
droit de la mer. Cette révision du droit de la mer avait été entreprise a la fin de la
décolonisation, à l’époque d’une certaine domination du Tiers Monde aux Nations Unies,
où, nonobstant la guerre froide, l’espoir de pouvoir établir des relations internationales
plus humaines avait été créé.
Le préambule de la Convention sur le droit de la mer contient plusieurs principes
qui confirment l’atmosphère qui régnait au moment de la convocation de la troisième
Conférence des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer. A côté des intérêts des Etats, on
tentait de mettre en relief les intérêts des peuples, des nations, de l’humanité tout entière.
Dans d’autres parties de la Convention et dans l’Acte final de la Conférence, il était tenu
compte des intérêts des peuples n’ayant pas accédé à la pleine indépendance ou à un
autre régime d’autonomie reconnu par les Nations Unies, des intérêts des territoires sous
domination coloniale et de ceux des mouvements de libération nationale.
Le maintien de la paix, la justice et le progrès pour tous les peuples du monde avaient
été mis en avant comme les motifs principaux de la convocation de la Conférence.3 Les
Etats participants à la Conférence avaient exprimé leur conviction que l’ordre juridique
pour les mers et les océans établi par la nouvelle Convention contribuait “à la mise en
place d’un ordre économique international juste et équitable dans lequel il serait tenu
compte des intérêts et besoins de l’humanité tout entière et, en particulier, des intérêts
et besoins spécifiques des pays en développement”4 Un des éléments essentiels pour
la réalisation de ce but était la proclamation des fonds marins au-delà des limites de la

3 Préambule, premier considérant.


4 Préambule, cinquième considérant.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 73

juridiction nationale comme patrimoine commun de l’humanité.5 Finalement, les partici-


pants à la Conférence exprimaient leur conviction “que la codification et le développement
progressif du droit de la mer réalisés dans la Convention contribueront au renforcement
de la paix, de la sécurité, de la coopération et des relations amicales entre toutes les
nations, conformément aux principes de justice et d’égalité des droits, et favoriseront
le progrès économique et social de tous les peuples du monde ...”.6
On trouve dans la Convention d’autres principes et règles qui devraient assurer une
vie pacifique de l’humanité, déchirée d’une manière permanente tout au long de son
histoire. Dans ce sens, on a adopté le principe d’après lequel la haute mer est affectée
à des fins pacifiques7 et la Zone des fonds marins au-delà des limites de la juridiction
nationale est ouverte à l’utilisation à des fins exclusivement pacifiques par tous les Etats.8
A côté de ce principe qui s’applique aussi à la zone économique exclusive,9 les dis-
positions générales de la Convention contiennent le principe de l’utilisation des mers
a des fins pacifiques, qui s’applique a la Convention tout entière:

“Dans l’exercice de leurs droits et l’exécution de leurs obligations en vertu de la Convention,


les Etats Parties s’abstiennent de recourir à la menace ou à l’emploi de la force contre l’intégrité
territoriale ou l’indépendance politique de tout Etat, ou de toute autre manière incompatible
avec les principes du droit international énoncés dans la Charte des Nations Unies”.10

Il nous reste à présent à voir certaines dispositions de la Convention sur le droit de la


mer qui s’appliquent directement aux droits de l’homme.

2. SECURITÉ DES PERSONNES EN MER

En ce qui concerne la navigation, l’activité maritime la plus ancienne, il y a plusieurs


dispositions dans la Convention dont le but est de protéger la vie et la sécurité des
personnes en mer. Les règles principales dans ce sens sont contenues dans l’article 94,
qui traite des obligations de l’Etat du pavillon. Cet article énumère plusieurs mesures
que l’Etat du pavillon doit prendre pour assurer la sécurité en mer. Ces mesures con-
cernent la construction et l’équipement du navire, la composition, les conditions de travail

5 Résolution de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies 2749 (XXV) du 7 décembre 1970; préambule, sixième
considérant.
6 Préambule, septième considérant.
7 Article 88.
8 Article 141.
9 Article 58, paragraphe 2.
10 Article 301.
74 6 – DROIT DE LA MER ET DROITS DE L’HOMME

et la formation des équipages, l’emploi des signaux, le bon fonctionnement des communi-
cations et la prévention des abordages.11
Outre ces mesures qui devraient assurer la sécurité en mer, la Convention oblige les
Etats et leurs navires à prêter assistance a quiconque est trouvé en péril en mer.12 Les
Etats côtiers sont tenus de faciliter la création et le fonctionnement d’un service permanent
de recherche et de sauvetage adéquat et efficace pour assurer la sécurité maritime et
aérienne.13 L’application de cette règle, qui se trouve dans la partie consacrée à la haute
mer, est étendue aussi à la zone économique exclusive.14 Mais, l’obligation de prêter
assistance existe aussi dans les autres parties de la mer. La Convention permet au navire
qui traverse la mer territoriale d’un pays tiers de s’arrêter et de mouiller si cela s’impose
dans le but de porter secours à des personnes, des navires ou des aéronefs en danger
ou en détresse.15
Le souci de protéger des personnes en milieu marin, autrefois limité à la navigation,
s’étend aussi aux activités nouvelles en mer. L’article 146 de la Convention requiert que
des mesures nécessaires soient prises en vue d’assurer une protection efficace de la vie
humaine dans les activités menées dans la Zone. L’Autorité internationale des fonds
marins doit adopter a cette fin des règles, règlements et procédures appropriés pour
compléter le droit international existant.

3. REPRESSION DE L’ESCLAVAGE

Après plusieurs siècles d’un engagement sans réserve dans le commerce des esclaves
provenant d’Afrique, au XIXe siècle, les grandes puissances européennes ont progressive-
ment accepté de prendre des dispositions pour l’abolition de cette activité. Les diplomaties
de ces pays, se considérant les seuls Etats “civilisés”, ont été engagées plusieurs décennies
durant dans une activité qui a abouti à l’adoption d’une disposition claire concernant
l’interdiction du transport d’esclaves. On trouve le résultat de ces négociations à l’article
99 de la Convention sur le droit de la mer:

“Tout Etat prend des mesures efficaces pour prévenir et réprimer le transport d’esclaves par
les navires autorisés à battre son pavillon et pour prévenir l’usurpation de son pavillon à cette
fin. Tout esclave qui se réfugie sur un navire, quel que soil son pavillon, est libre ipso facto”.

11 Article 94, paragraphe 3.


12 Article 98, paragraphe 1.
13 Article 98, paragraphe 2.
14 Article 58, paragraphe 2.
15 Article 18, paragraphe 2.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 75

S’il existe de sérieuses raisons de soupçonner qu’un navire étranger se livre au transport
d’esclaves, il est ainsi permis à un navire de guerre, qui croise en haute mer ou dans
une zone économique exclusive d’un pays tiers, d’arraisonner ce navire.16

4. PROTECTION DE LA LIBERTÉ INDIVIDUELLE ET DE L’INTÉGRITÉ DE


LA PERSONNE HUMAINE

Dans l’exercice de sa souveraineté dans la mer territoriale et de ses droits souverains


dans la zone économique exclusive, l’Etat côtier peut prendre des mesures qui sont
nécessaires pour assurer le respect du droit international et de ses lois et règlements
concernant les ressources biologiques qu’il a adoptés conformément à la Convention.17
Mais, la Convention contient certaines règles qui limitent ces mesures de l’Etat côtier
en ce qui concerne l’individu. Ces restrictions sont expresses en ce qui concerne la zone
économique exclusive: “Les sanctions prévues par l’Etat côtier pour les infractions aux
lois et règlements en matière de pèche dans la zone économique exclusive ne peuvent
comprendre l’emprisonnement ... ni aucun autre châtiment corporel”. Mais, cette disposi-
tion, qu’on trouve au paragraphe 3 de l’article 73, permet que les Etats concernés convien-
nent autrement, c’est-à-dire qu’un arrangement concernant les pêcheries d’un Etat ou
d’un groupe d’Etats dans une zone économique pourrait permettre à l’Etat côtier d’em-
prisonner les pécheurs étrangers. Néanmoins, aucune exception de la sorte n’est permise
en ce qui concerne les châtiments corporels. Cette conclusion est basée moins sur la
formulation peu claire de l’article 73, paragraphe 3, que sur ma conviction que même
les Etats concernés ne peuvent pas se mettre d’accord pour autoriser l’application de
châtiments corporels, qui sont, selon moi, interdits par le ius cogens général.18
Une restriction similaire est contenue aussi dans les dispositions concernant la
protection du milieu marin. En cas d’infraction à des normes internationales et nationales
commises par des navires étrangers, seules des peines pécuniaires peuvent être infligées.
Mais, cette disposition, ne prévoyant pas d’exception en ce qui concerne les infractions
commises au delà de la mer territoriale,19 permet d’appliquer d’autres peines s’il “s’agit
d’un acte délibéré et grave de pollution” commis dans la mer territoriale.20
Partout où l’infraction est commise et quels que soient l’intention et le niveau de
la pollution, la Convention demande que, dans le déroulement des poursuites engagées
en vue de réprimer des infractions pour lesquelles des peines peuvent être infligées, les

16 Article 110, paragraphe 1 b).


17 Article 21, paragraphe 1 d); article 73, paragraphe 1.
18 Voy. aussi: Oxman, op. cit., pp. 391–392.
19 Article 230, paragraphe 1.
20 Article 230, paragraphe 2.
76 6 – DROIT DE LA MER ET DROITS DE L’HOMME

droits reconnus de l’accusé soient respectés.21 Pour tenter d’interpréter la signification


de cette dernière phrase elliptique, il convient de partager l’opinion du Professeur Oxman
selon laquelle cette phrase impose l’interdiction de la discrimination à l’égard de tout
accusé dans l’application du droit interne de l’Etat côtier tout comme dans l’application
des normes pertinentes du droit international.22
Les règles sur la prompte mainlevée de l’immobilisation du navire et prompte
libération de son équipage sont des dispositions qui ne protègent pas seulement les
différents intérêts économiques, mais aussi les droits de l’homme des membres de
l’equipage. Lorsque les autorités d’un Etat Partie à la Convention ont immobilisé un
navire battant pavillon d’un autre Etat Partie en raison d’une violation alléguée des règles
relatives aux ressources biologiques ou à la protection du milieu marin, la Convention
prévoit la prompte mainlevée de l’immobilisation du navire et la prompte libération de
son équipage des le dépôt d’une caution ou autre garantie financière.23
Le séjour forcé et prolongé dans le port d’un Etat tiers peut dans certaines circonstan-
ces – maladie, problèmes familiaux, relations de travail – violer les droits fondamentaux
des membres de l’équipage. Les affaires concernant la prompte mainlevée traitées par
le Tribunal international du droit de la mer démontrent que, outre d’autres considérations,
le Tribunal a tenu compte des conditions de l’équipage et de son capitaine.24 Dans
l’Affaire du “Monte Confurco”, les parties étaient divisées sur le point de savoir si le
capitaine du navire se trouvait en état d’arrestation. Le Tribunal a demandé qu’il soit
precédé à sa mise en liberté.25

5. NOTIFICATION À L’ÉTAT DU PAVILLON

Nonobstant le fait que les gouvernements en général ne sont pas trop préoccupés par
la protection des droits de leurs citoyens, la situation est souvent différente quand les
droits de leurs citoyens ou d’autres personnes sous leur autorité sont violés par des Etats
tiers. En conséquence, les dispositions demandant que, dans certaines situations, l’Etat
du pavillon soit informé sur le sort des membres de l’équipage de son navire peut aider
au traitement correct des personnes concernées. L’Etat côtier doit, si le capitaine le
demande, notifier toute mesure prise dans l’exercice de sa juridiction pénale dans sa mer
territoriale à un agent diplomatique ou à un fonctionnaire consulaire de l’Etat du pavillon.

21 Article 230, paragraphe 3.


22 Oxman, op. cit., p. 399.
23 Article 73, paragraphe 2; article 220, paragraphes 6 et 7; article 226, paragraphe 1; article 292.
24 Tribunal international du droit de la mer, Affaire du navire “Saiga” (Saint-Vincent-et-les-Grenadines c.
La Guinée), Arrêt du 7 décembre 1997; Affaire du “Camouco” (Panama c. France), Arrêt du 7 février 2000;
Affaire du “Monte Confurco” (Seychelles c. France), Arrêt du 18 décembre 2000.
25 Tribunal international du droit de la mer, Affaire du “Monte Confurco”, paragraphe 90.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 77

L’Etat côtier doit aussi faciliter les contacts entre cet agent ou fonctionnaire et l’équipage
du navire.26
Si un navire étranger a commis une infraction à des règles relatives à la protection
du milieu marin dans la mer territoriale, l’Etat côtier est tenu de notifier sans retard à
l’Etat du pavillon les mesures prises dans le cadre des poursuites.27
L’Etat côtier n’est pas tenu de notifier seulement les mesures prises dans la mer
territoriale. Il doit aussi notifier à l’Etat du pavillon les mesures prises ainsi que les
sanctions qui seraient prononcées dans le cas d’une saisie ou immobilisation d’un navire
étranger en raison de violations des règles relatives aux ressources biologiques dans la
zone économique exclusive.28 Cet Etat doit aussi notifier à l’Etat du pavillon et à tout
autre Etat concerné toutes les mesures prises a l’encontre des navires étrangers en
application des dispositions de la Convention relative à la protection du milieu marin.29

6. PROTECTION DE LA SANTÉ

La Convention contient certaines règles dont le but est de protéger la santé de la popula-
tion de l’Etat côtier. Parmi les questions sur lesquelles l’Etat côtier peut adopter des lois
et règlements relatifs au passage inoffensif, la Convention prévoit aussi “la prévention
des infractions aux lois et règlements ... sanitaires ... de l’Etat côtier”.30 Dans sa zone
contiguë, l’Etat côtier peut exercer les contrôles nécessaires en vue de prévenir les
infractions à ces lois et règlements sanitaires sur son territoire ou dans sa mer territoriale
ou en vue de réprimer les infractions à ces mêmes lois et règlements.31
La Convention contient aussi des normes contre le trafic illicite des stupéfiants et
des substances psychotropes. Les Etats Parties s’obligent à coopérer à la répression de
ce trafic auquel se livrent des navires naviguant en haute mer.32 Dans ce but, tout Etat
qui a de sérieuses raisons de penser qu’un navire battant son pavillon se livre au trafic
illicite des stupéfiants peut demander la coopération d’autres Etats pour mettre fin à ce
trafic.33 Il n’est pas permis au navire de guerre étranger ayant de sérieuses raisons de
soupçonner qu’un navire se livre au trafic illicite de stupéfiants d’exercer le droit de
visite.34 Malheureusement, le droit de visite n’est pas accordé non plus aux navires de

26 Article 27. par. 3.


27 Article 231.
28 Article 73, par. 4.
29 Article 231.
30 Article 21, par. 1 (h).
31 Article 33, par. 1.
32 Article 108, par. 1.
33 Article 108, par. 2.
34 Article 110, par. 1.
78 6 – DROIT DE LA MER ET DROITS DE L’HOMME

guerre étrangers par des traités spécialisés contre le trafic des stupéfiants conclus après
la Convention sur le droit de la mer.35

7. DROIT EN MATIÈRE DE PROCÉDURE

Le contenu des dispositions que nous venons de passer en revue démontre clairement
que l’application des droits de l’homme dans le droit de la mer dépend des Etats: de
l’Etat côtier, de l’Etat du pavillon et des Etats du pavillon des navires des Etats tiers.
La Convention ne mentionne qu’une seule situation où l’individu, la personne physique,
peut engager une procédure judiciaire pour la protection de ses droits. La personne qui
est partie à un contrat relatif aux activités dans la Zone dispose du droit de s’adresser
à la Chambre pour le règlement des différends relatifs aux fonds marins du Tribunal
international du droit de la mer.36
Une autre disposition permettant que d’autres sujets et non l’Etat portent une demande
concernant les droits de l’homme devant une juridiction internationale, est constituée
par la règle concernant la prompte mainlevée de l’immobilisation du navire ou prompte
libération de son équipage. La demande de mainlevée ou de mise en liberté peut être
faite non seulement par l’Etat du pavillon, mais aussi en son nom.37 Elle peut être faite
par un représentant officiel de l’Etat, par le capitaine du navire ou par son propriétaire,
mais toujours avec l’autorisation de l’Etat du pavillon.38

8. CONCLUSION

En concluant son analyse détaillée sur les droits de l’homme et le droit de la mer, le
professeur Oxman écrivait:

“It is unlikely that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the law of the sea more
generally, will be accorded a central role in the history of the international law of human rights.
But the foregoing review suggests that it may be deserving of more than a footnote. How much

35 Voy.: Article 17, paragraphe 3, de la Convention des Nations Unies contre le trafic illicite de stupéfiants
et de substances psychotropes, Vienne, 20 décembre 1988, RGDIP, Vol. 93, 1989, p. 720 et s.; Article 6
de l’Accord relatif au trafic illicite par mer, mettant en œuvre l’article 17 de la Convention des Nations
Unies contre le trafic illicite de stupéfiants et de substances psychotropes, Strasbourg, 31 janvier 1995,
RGDIP, Vol. 99, 1995, p. 212 et s.
36 Article 187 (c).
37 Article 292, paragraphe 2.
38 Center for Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia, United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea, A Commentary, Vol. V, M.H. Nordquist, Editor-in-chief, S. Rosenne, L.B. Sohn; Volume Editors,
Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London, 1988, p. 70 et s.
III – LAW OF THE SEA AND OTHER FIELDS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 79

more may well depend on the way in which it is implemented in the years to come and, in that
respect, the attention it receives by those most interested in the development and protection
of human rights”.39

Une des premières décisions du Tribunal international du droit de la mer confirme cette
prévision de l’expert américain. En interprétant les règles traditionnelles sur le droit de
poursuite et en examinant l’usage de la force lors de 1’arraisonnement du navire Saiga,
le Tribunal a déclaré que “les considérations d’humanité doivent s’appliquer dans le droit
de la mer, comme dans les autres domaines du droit international”.40

39 Oxman, op. cit., p. 404.


40 Tribunal international du droit de la mer, “Affaire du navire Saiga”, (no 2), (Saint-Vincent-et-les-Grenadines
c. La Guinée), Arrêt du 1 juillet 1999, par. 155.
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IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS
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Chapter 7

THE LOS CONVENTION AND SEA BOUNDARY DELIMITATION*

1. It is obvious that a comprehensive treaty containing the codification and progressive


development of such a vast and complex area of international law like the contemporary
law of the sea cannot satisfy all States, and that the legislative technique at international
conferences does not allow the elaboration of international instruments as legislative
masterpieces. Nevertheless, 157 States have, by their signatures, confirmed their opinion
that the LOS Convention is an appropriate instrument to serve as a basis of the inter-
national legal order for the seas and oceans; they have also thereby confirmed their
readiness to submit the Convention to their national procedures for ratification. Contrary
to this view of the vast majority of the international community, some States have not
signed the Convention because of their fears that it does not fit their national interests.
These interests are in some cases hardly discernible. In others, the advanced interests
serve to hide the real reasons for rejecting the Convention which, although not always
recognized, are: the belief that the Convention provisions better serve the cause of an
unfriendly neighbour; the incompatibility of the Convention with national economic or
military interests; the conviction that the Convention does not sufficiently take into
account the specific geographic or historic characteristics of a State (or group of States).
In some instances, however, it is the general mistrust of international law, and not of
the content of specific solutions inserted in the Convention, that prevent its acceptance.
Besides these subjectively-based reproaches to the LOS Convention, it must be
admitted that some of its solutions are vague (e.g. navigation of warships), that many
provisions are of a purely hortatory character (e.g. some provisions on the protection
and preservation of the marine environment) and that the solution of some questions has
been neglected (e.g. military uses of the sea). One of the subjects – the solution of which
has caused a lot of criticism – is the sea boundary delimitation. In the final stages of
the Conference (in 1981) E.D. Brown went so far as to state:

* First published in Essays on the New Law of the Sea, Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje prava i
medunarodno pravo, Pravni fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Institut za medunarodno pravo i
medunarodne odnose, (Budislav Vukas, ed.), Volume XVIII – No. 21, Zagreb, 1985.
84 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

“Both as regards the criteria of delimitation and the settlement of delimitation disputes, it must
be said that the provisions of the Draft Convention are abominably bad.”1

2. The extension of the limits of existing maritime zones under the sovereignty, sovereign
rights and jurisdiction of the coastal States (territorial sea, contiguous zone, continental
shelf) and the creation of new zones (exclusive economic zone, archipelagic waters),
as well as the ever-increasing dependence upon the sea and its natural resources, have
immensely increased the importance of the delimitation of maritime zones between States
with opposite or adjacent coasts. The establishment of new independent States has also
contributed to the complexity of the problem of maritime delimitation.2 The purpose
of this article is to analyse the provisions of the LOS Convention concerning delimitation
and to see to what extent they provide a useful and workable basis for determining
maritime boundaries between States. Our research will take into account: a) the substantive
provisions on the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and
the continental shelf of neighbouring States; b) the problem caused by the omission of
any rule concerning the delimitation of the contiguous zone; c) the provisions on the
settlement of delimitation disputes.

1. TERRITORIAL SEA

3. Territorial sea is the only maritime zone concerning which the rule on delimitation
between opposite or adjacent States at UNCLOS III remained almost unchanged, as
compared to the 1958 Geneva codification. Although several proposals were advanced
both in the Sea-Bed Committee and at the beginning of the Conference,3 in Caracas
the problem of the delimitation of the territorial sea was not often raised in discussion.
As in relation to other zones, Greece defended the supremacy of the median line principle,
while Turkey (supported by Iraq) pleaded for the application of the equitable principles.4

1 E.D. Brown, “Delimitation of offshore areas – hard labour and bitter fruits at UNCLOS III”, Marine Policy,
Vol. 5, No. 3, 1981, pp. 172-184, at p. 181.
2 E.J. Manner, “Some Basic Viewpoints on Delimitation of Marine Areas between Neighbouring States”,
The Frontier of the Seas – The Problems of Delimitation, Proceedings of the 5th International Ocean
Symposium, November 26-27, 1980, The Japan Shipping Club, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 7-17, at p. 7; S.P. Jagota,
“Maritime Boundary”, RCADI, Vol. 171, 1981-II, pp. 81-224, at p. 89.
3 See some characteristic proposals: China, A/AC.138/SC,II/L.34, 16 July 1973, Report of the Committee
on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction, Vol.
III, General Assembly, Official Records: Twenty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/9021), 1973, p.
71; Turkey, A/CONF.62/C.2/L.9, 15 July 1974, UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. III, p. 188; Greece,
A/CONF.62/C.2/L.22, 25 July 1974, ibid., pp. 200-201.
4 See the interventions in the Second Committee: Turkey, UNCLOS III. Official Records, Vol. II, p. 104;
Greece, ibid., p. 111; Iraq, ibid., p. 115.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 85

“Main trends”, a working paper prepared after the Second Session of the Conference
(October, 1974) contained alternatives reflecting characteristically different proposals.5
However, the first draft of the future Convention, the Informal Single Negotiating Text
(ISNT), adopted Article 12 of the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Conti-
guous Zone (Art. 13 of ISNT), as had been suggested by the United Kingdom.6
4. Although the delimitation provisions were to become one of the hard-core issues
of the Conference, the delimitation of the territorial sea was not seriously debated between
the partisans of the median line and the supporters of equitable principles. In the opinion
of L. Caflisch, this was because the International Court of Justice in the North Sea
Continental Shelf cases stated that the distorting effects of lateral equidistance lines under
certain conditions of coastal configurations are comparatively small within the limits
of territorial waters, although they increase gradually in step with the distance from the
coast.7 The reopening of this question was mentioned only from time to time as a threat
by the “equitable-principles States”: they wanted to balance the adoption of the median
line criterion in the territorial sea delimitation rule with the priority of the equitable
principles regarding the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental
shelf.
Thus, Article 12, paragraph 1, of the 1958 Geneva Convention became Article 15
of the LOS Convention. The first sentence of Article 15 is identical to the corresponding
part of Article 12 of the 1958 Convention. Agreement remains the first means for the
delimitation of the territorial sea between States whose coasts are opposite or adjacent;
if there is no contrary agreement, the two States are entitled to extend their territorial
sea to the median line. The substance of the second sentence in the two Conventions
is also the same: the provision contained in the first sentence will not be applied “where
it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances” to delimit the
territorial sea differently.
However, on the basis of a suggestion by the Yugoslav delegation, the Chairman
of Negotiating Group 7, Judge Manner (Finland) proposed two drafting changes in the
second sentence of Article 15, which clarified the relation between the two sentences.8

5 Doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/WP.1, 15 October 1974, Provision 21, Formulae A-D, UNCLOS III, Official Records,
Vol. III, p. 107, at p. 111.
6 Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.8/Part II, 7 May 1975, UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. IV, p. 152, at p. 154;
the proposal of the United Kingdom, A/CONF.62/C. 2/L.3, 3 July 1974, ibid., Vol. III, p. 183.
7 North Sea Continental Shelf, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1969, p. 3, at pp. 18 (para. 8) and 37 (para. 59);
L. Caflisch, “Les zones maritimes sous juridiction nationale, leurs limites et leur délimitation”, in D.
Bardonnet, M. Virally, Le nouveau droit international de la mer, Paris, Pedone, 1983, pp. 35-116, at p.
47.
8 In the opinion of the Yugoslav representative, the literal interpretation of the second sentence of Article
12, paragraph 1 of the 1958 Geneva Convention in fact led to the inapplicability of the whole of paragraph
1 if the conditions of the second sentence were satisfied, and not only to the inapplicability of the first
sentence, the real intention of the drafters. That is why he suggested to replace “The provisions of this
86 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

These were included already in the first revision of the Informal Composite Negotiating
Text (ICNT/Rev.1) in 1979, and remained in the final text of Article 15.9
5. UNCLOS III has changed nothing substantial in the provision on the delimitation
of the territorial sea. Neither has it clarified the content of this provision: the terms
“historic title” and “special circumstances” remain as vague and obscure as before. But,
having concluded that nothing has been changed in this provision, one should not ignore
the changes in the LOS Convention related to that rule.
a) Article 15 is the only delimitation provision in the LOS Convention that mentions
the median line as a delimitation criterion. What are the consequences of the fact that
the median line is no longer a criterion for the delimitation of the contiguous zone and
the continental shelf, as it was under Article 24 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea
and the Contiguous Zone and Article 6 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf? In
our view, the decision of States participating in UNCLOS III to retain the old provisions
on the delimitation of the territorial sea confirms their conviction about the adequacy
of that norm. On the basis of that decision, one could easily claim the customary nature
of that rule. The fact that the provisions on the delimitation of other maritime zones have
been changed does not affect the rule on the delimitation of the territorial sea. Quite the
contrary: the nonexistence of any rule on the delimitation of the contiguous zone and
the vagueness and emptiness of the delimitation formula for the exclusive economic zone
and the continental shelf (para. l of Art. 74 and 83) suggest a reference to the content
of Article 15 also in relation to these maritime zones (see below pp. 194 and 199).
Moreover, a link between the delimitation of the territorial sea and that of the exclusive
economic zone and the continental shelf is further suggested by the identical paragraph
4 of Articles 74 and 83.

“Where there is an agreement in force between the States concerned, questions relating to the
delimitation of the exclusive economic zone/continental shelf shall be determined in accordance
with the provisions of that agreement”.

paragraph” at the beginning and “this provision” at the end of the second sentence. (This author’s notes
of the meeting of Negotiating Group 7 held on the 20 April 1978). Nobody opposed the commentaries and
suggestions of Yugoslavia. In fact, in his suggestions dated 27 April 1978 (doc. NG7/9), the Chairman of
the Negotiating Group suggested the replacement of the two disputed phrases by “The above provision”
and “therewith”. He repeated them in his Informal Suggestions of 2 May 1978 (doc. NG7/11), as well as
in his Report at the end of the first part of the Seventh Session, on 17 May 1978 (doc. NG7/21). Consequent-
ly, these two drafting amendments were included in the next draft – the ICNT/Rev.l (Doc. A/CONF.62/
WP.10/Rev.1, 28 April 1979, Art. 15).
9 The final text of Article 15 reads: “Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other,
neither of the two States is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial
sea beyond the median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines
from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each of the two States is measured. The above provision
does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances
to delimit the territorial seas of the two States in a way which is at variance therewith”.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 87

Finally, the scope of the application of the provision on the delimitation of the territorial
sea has been broadened in the new Convention: it now also applies to the delimitation
of the territorial sea in the case of two neighbouring archipelagic States.10
b) Disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of Article 12 of the 1958
Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone are submitted to a compulsory
settlement of disputes system only if the parties to the dispute, besides being parties to
the Convention, are parties to a separate treaty: the 1958 Optional Protocol of Signature
Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes. Disputes concerning the interpretation
or application of Article 15 of the LOS Convention shall be submitted to the settlement
of disputes procedures contained in the LOS Convention itself (Part XV). This, in our
view, will facilitate the conclusion of agreements on delimitation and will encourage
States to avoid disputes. States will be more inclined to renounce the strict application
of the median line in cases of some exceptional conditions of coastal configuration and,
furthermore, to not invoke, “special circumstances” if they have nothing to do with the
delimitation in a certain area; “historic title” will not be claimed if it had no recognition
by neighbouring States in the past.

2. CONTIGUOUS ZONE

UNCLOS I

6. The draft articles on the law of the sea prepared by the International Law Commission
in 1956 did not provide any provision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone. Article
66 contained only a general rule on the extension of the contiguous zone and a provision
on the control of the coastal State.11 Commenting on Article 66 of the Commission’s
Report, the Government of Norway stressed the necessity of making clear “that the control
may not be exercised in waters which are closer to the baseline of another State than
to the baseline of the State exercising the control...”12
At UNCLOS I the delegation of Yugoslavia proposed the addition to Article 66 of
a provision concerning the delimitation of the contiguous zone between opposite or
adjacent States:

“The delimitation of this zone between two States the coasts of which are opposite each other
at a distance less than the breadth of their territorial seas and contiguous zones, or between
two adjacent States, is constituted, in the absence of an agreement, by the median line every

10 See Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 52-53.


11 Report of the International Law Commission, General Assembley, Official Records: Eleventh Session,
Supplement No. 9 (A/3159), pp. 11 and 39.
12 Doc. A/CONF.13/5, 23 October 1957, p. 70.
88 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadths
of the territorial seas of the two States are measured”13

The Yugoslav proposal, introduced in the First Committee by N. Katičić, was adopted
without any discussion by 52 votes to 3, with 19 abstentions.14 Warned by the Drafting
Committee of some inconsistencies between the text of the adopted Yugoslav proposal
and that of Article 12, paragraph 1 on the delimitation of the territorial sea,15 the First
Committee decided to revise Article 66, paragraph 3 in accordance with Article 12. The
following revised text of Article 66, paragraph 3 was adopted by 24 votes to 6, with
9 abstentions:

“Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other, neither of the two States
is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its contiguous zone beyond
the median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines
from which the breadth of the territorial seas of the two States is measured.”16

When reported to the Plenary, the First Committee’s text of Article 66 failed to obtain
the required two thirds majority, obviously because of the content of the first two para-
graphs (40 votes to 27, with 9 abstentions).17 The Plenary adopted a United States
proposal18 (60 votes to none, with 13 abstentions) containing a different text for para-
graphs 1 and 2, but the same paragraph 3 (on delimitation) as the First Committee’s
Report.19
7. The acceptance of the (amended) Yugoslav proposal for the delimitation of the
contiguous zone may be considered a natural consequence of the adoption of the same
options for the delimitation of the territorial sea. However, there is a difference between
Articles 24 and 12 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone:
agreement between the two States and the median line are the only criteria for the
delimitation of the contiguous zone, while in relation to the delimitation of the territorial
sea these criteria shall not be applied if there are historic titles or other special circum-
stances prevailing.20

13 A/CONF.13/C.1/L.54, 26 March 1958 (Incorporating A/CONF.13/C.1/L.54/Corr.1/Rev.1), UNCLOS I. Official


Records, Vol. III, p. 226.
14 Ibid., pp. 91 and 182.
15 A/CONF.13/C.1/L.167, 24 April 1958, ibid., p. 257.
16 Ibid., pp. 198-199.
17 UNCLOS I, Official Records. Vol. II, p. 40.
18 A/CONF.13/L.31, 24 April 1958, ibid., p. 126.
19 Ibid., p. 40.
20 The only State which had a reservation concerning to paragraph 3 of Article 24 was Venezuela; the United
Kingdom and the United States objected to that reservation; Multilateral Treaties in respect of which the
Secretary-General Performs Depositary Functions, List of Signatures, Ratifications, Accessions, etc. as at
31 December 1979 (ST/LEG/SER.D/13), pp. 568, 570 and 571.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 89

In view of the developments at UNCLOS III and the situation created by the omission
from the LOS Convention of any rule on the delimitation of the contiguous zone, it is
interesting to quote the explanations of two delegations at UNCLOS I regarding the
negative vote they cast in relation to the Yugoslav proposal.
The Argentinian delegate, Mr. Ledesma, stated that “he considered that the contiguous
zone, being part of the high seas, should not be subject to any delimitation”;21 Sir Gerald
Fitzmaurice (United Kingdom), according to the Official Records, added that “the
delimitation of a zone of the high seas presupposed the existence of exclusive rights in
that zone; he saw no reason for delimiting a zone in which the coastal State exercised
rights of control only.”22

UNCLOS III

8. In the course of the preparations for UNCLOS III India proposed a text for the
contiguous zone article which contained no provision on the delimitation of the contiguous
zone between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.23 At the Second Session of the
Conference the Eastern European States proposed for the article on the contiguous zone
a text identical to Article 24 of the Geneva Convention, including the provision on
delimitation.24 Introducing the proposal, the representative of the German Democratic
Republic said that “the rules on delimitation contained in article 24 of the 1958 Geneva
Convention had stood the test of practice...”;25 no delegation contradicted this
assertion.26
The proposed provision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone was included in
the “main trends which have emerged from the proposals of States”27 (Provision 49),
but never in the drafts of the Convention prepared by the Chairmen of the Second
Committee, the Collegium or the Conference itself.
9. There has never been a convincing explanation for the omission of the rule on
the delimitation of the contiguous zone, at the Conference although some States did
question the soundness of such a solution. The only article by article examination of
the Second Committee’s Parts of the Convention was performed on the basis of the
ISNT28 during the Fourth Session of the Conference and it was only then that the pro-

21 UNCLOS I, Official Records, Vol. III, p. 199.


22 Ibid., p. 199.
23 Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor Beyond the Limits of
National Jurisdiction, Vol. IV, General Assembly, Official Records: Twenty-eighth Session, Supplement
No. 21 (A/9021), p. 47; UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. II, p. 121.
24 Doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/L.27, 27 July 1974, UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. III, p. 205.
25 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 234.
26 Ibid., pp. 234-235.
27 Doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/WP.1 (Introduction).
28 Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.8/Part II.
90 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

vision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone was mentioned by various delegations.
States in favour of maintaining the contiguous zone regime (Italy, India, Sudan, Greece,
Belgium, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Zaire, Nicaragua, Western Samoa, Algeria, Togo)
pleaded for the inclusion of such a provision in the Convention, together with some other
delegations who suggested the contiguous zone be eliminated from the new Convention
in view of the new developments concerning the extension of the coastal State’s rights
(Switzerland, Yugoslavia). The only State which expressly denied the usefulness of a
delimitation provision was the Netherlands. The Dutch delegation saw no necessity for
the existence of the contiguous zone once the territorial sea was extended to 12 nautical
miles. The specific reason for opposing a delimitation rule, however, was expressed at
the Sixth Session in 1977: the characteristics of the contiguous zone render unnecessary
its delimitation between adjacent or opposite States, as the competences of both States
can be exercised in the area where their respective contiguous zones overlap.
The majority of delegations in favour of a delimitation provision supported Article
24, paragraph 3, of the 1958 Geneva Convention (India, Sudan, Belgium, Yugoslavia,
Cyprus, Western Samoa). Whilst Italy and Greece believed the method of delimitation
should be the median line, Turkey and Bangladesh insisted that the provision on the
delimitation of the contiguous zone should be drafted in accordance with the provision
on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone of States having opposite or adjacent
coasts, while Nicaragua was of the opinion that the rules on delimitation should be
identical for all maritime zones. Opposed to the exclusive use of the median line were
also Togo and Algeria, the latter suggesting the application of the equity principle. Zaire
gave priority to agreement as a method of delimitation.29
No result was concluded from these suggestions and the new draft – the Revised
Single Negotiating Text (RSNT) – appeared without a provision on the delimitation of
the contiguous zone.30
Once again, at the Sixth Session in 1977, the question of the delimitation of the
contiguous zone was raised (Cyprus) in the Consultative Group of the Second Commit-
tee.31 The Chairman of the Committee, A. Aguilar, did not say why the delimitation
provision had been excluded from the ISNT, but explained that it had been omitted from
the RSNT (prepared by himself) because several delegations opposed such a rule. That
Statement was not correct in view of what really happened when article 33 of the ISNT
was discussed at the Fourth Session when only the Netherlands expressly opposed the
delimitation rule. This time only the delegations from Cyprus and Peru demanded the

29 This author’s notes, taken at the informal meetings of the Second Committee on the 29 and 30 March 1976,
and of its Consultative Group on delimitation on 1 July 1977.
30 Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.8/Rev.1/Part II, 6 May 1976, UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. V, p. 151.
31 This author’s notes, taken at the informal meetings of the Second Committee Consultative Group on
delimitation on 17 and 20 June, and 1 July 1977.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 91

inclusion of a provision on delimitation; however, the Netherlands was again against


such a provision. According to the procedure at that stage of the Conference, it was
obvious that there was no sufficient support for the inclusion of a provision dealing with
the delimitation of the contiguous zone in the next draft – the Informal Composite
Negotiating Text (ICNT).32
At the Seventh Session (May, 1978), Yugoslavia based its opposition to the retention
of the contiguous zone inter alia on the omission of any rule on delimitation which could,
it believes, result in disputes concerning the extension of the contiguous zones of opposite
and adjacent States. This argument was supported by the delegations of El Salvador and
Turkey.33
During the first part of the Eighth Session (March, 1978), the delimitation of the
contiguous zone was mentioned in Negotiating Group 7. The representative from Israel,
Sh. Rosenne, did not deem a provision on that question necessary as, in his opinion,
the contiguous zone of two States could overlap. In opposition to this, the delegations
of Cyprus and Pakistan stressed the need for a provision on delimitation.34 Although,
as Chairman of the Negotiating Group, Judge Manner did naturally not express his own
private opinion on the issue, he did personally support the inclusion in the Convention
of a provision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone on the basis of Article 24,
paragraph 3, of the Geneva Convention.35
At subsequent sessions, during the exhausting negotiations on the delimitation of
the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, delimitation of the contiguous
zone has never been publicly mentioned. Consequently, Article 33 of the LOS Convention
does not contain any provision on the delimitation of the contiguous zone. Such a result
of the Conference, together with the non-accessibility to all the preparatory work of the
Convention, requires an explanation of the real reasons for and consequences of this
“curious omission” /E.D. Brown/.36
10. The old argument, advanced by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice at UNCLOS I and repeated
by some delegations at UNCLOS III, that there is no reason for delimiting a zone of
the high seas in which coastal States exercise no exclusive rights, but only rights of
control,37 has nowadays lost any significance. The contiguous zone is no longer defined
as “a zone of the high seas”, as it was in Article 24, paragraph 1, of the Geneva Conven-

32 Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.10, 15 July 1977, UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. VIII, p. 1.
33 This author’s notes from the informal meeting of the Second Committee held on 1 May 1978.
34 This author’s notes from the informal meetings of the Negotiating Group 7 held on 26 and 30 March 1979.
35 See “Panel Discussion on the Impact of Delimitation”, The Frontier of the Seas – The Problems of Delimita-
tion..., pp. 72-73, at p. 73.
36 Brown, op. cit., p. 173; see also H. Dipla, Le régime juridique des îles dans le droit international de la
mer, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1984, pp. 142 and 229.
37 In this sense T. Treves, La Convenzione delle Nazioni Unite sul diritto del mare del 10 dicembre 1982,
Milano, Giuffrè, 1983, note 13 at p. 30.
92 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

tion (Art. 33, para. 1 of the LOS Convention). This change in its definition is indis-
pensable, as in the majority of cases the contiguous zone will be a part of the exclusive
economic zone.
The second change is even more important: in addition to the competences enumerated
in Article 33, paragraph 1, the coastal State has now been endowed with the right to
control traffic of objects of an archeological and historical nature found on the sea-bed
of its contiguous zone (Art. 303, para. 2). It is inconceivable that the coastal State’s right,
mentioned in Article 303, could be exercised by more than one State, for that right is
of an exclusive nature.
As the contiguous zone will most often be part of the exclusive economic zone in
the future, the question is posed of whether the provision on the delimitation of the
economic zone suffices also for the delimitation of the contiguous zone. The answer
would have to be negative, as there will probably be States willing to establish their
contiguous zone, but not an exclusive economic zone. If a State does not claim an
exclusive economic zone, or if her economic zone is narrower than her contiguous zone,
the problem may arise of the delimitation of her contiguous zone with maritime zones
of the neighbouring State (territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone or
the continental shelf).
Even if both the contiguous zones and the exclusive economic zones of the neigh-
bouring States overlap, the boundaries of these two different maritime zones should not
always coincide. The relevant provision on the delimitation of the exclusive economic
zone (Art. 74, para. 1), which will be analysed later, provides that the delimitation shall
be effected by agreement on the basis of international law “in order to achieve an
equitable solution”. We concur with the opinion that “an equitable solution” for the
delimitation of the exclusive economic zone could be based on considerations irrelevant
for the delimitation of the contiguous zones.38 An opposing view is expressed by S.P.
Jagota, Vice-Chairman of the delegation from India – the State which, in the Sea-Bed
Committee, proposed the contiguous zone article without a delimitation provision:

“The SNT made no reference to delimitation of the contiguous zone, presumably because this
would be covered by the principles applicable to the delimitation of the exclusive economic
zone”.39

In view of the events at UNCLOS III, one must agree with L. Caflisch that mere negli-
gence is not a satisfactory explanation for the omission of the delimitation rule, the more
plausible explanation being the reluctance of the delegations to create additional problems
for the already complex negotiations on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone

38 Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 56-57.


39 Jagota, op. cit., p. 174.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 93

and the continental shelf.40 One should not exclude the influence of the Chairman of
the Second Committee, A. Aguilar, here. The Head of the delegation from Venezuela,
a State that persistently warred at the Conference against the application of the median-
line principle, could not have been happy with yet another rule (besides the one con-
cerning the territorial sea) based on that principle.
11. Having concluded that a need exists for a rule on the delimitation of the conti-
guous zone, the question arises whether, once the LOS Convention enters into force,
there will be a legal vacuum concerning that question, or whether States will have to
conform to certain international rules. For the relations among States Parties only to the
1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone and their relations with
States Parties to the LOS Convention, the answer is clear: Article 24, paragraph 3 of
the 1958 Convention will continue to be applied (on the basis of Art. 311 of the LOS
Convention). As concerns the relation between States Parties to the LOS Convention,
the answer depends upon the conclusion concerning the real reason for the omission of
any delimitation provision from the new Convention. If we conclude that there was an
express decision at UNCLOS III not to have any rule on the delimitation of the contiguous
zones because no need to delimit the overlapping contiguous zones of neighbouring States
was acknowledged, then there would be no room for either the application of Article
24, paragraph 3 of the Geneva Convention or any customary rule (based on Art. 24, para.
3, or any other) between States parties to the LOS Convention.
If, on the contrary, the conclusion is that the mentioned omission was not caused
by a clear decision of the Conference that a delimitation provision was not necessary,
but by other, incidental reasons (negligence, fear from complicating the solution of a
hard-core issue, etc.), then existing conventional and customary provisions on delimitation
of the contiguous zone could be applied even between States Parties to the LOS Conven-
tion.
As the record of the Conference on that issue leaves no doubt concerning the plaus-
ibility of this latter conclusion, Article 24, paragraph 3 of the Geneva Convention may
be applied to States which are parties to both the Geneva Convention and the LOS
Convention. Article 311, paragraph 1 of the LOS Convention does not exclude the
application of the Geneva Convention between its States Parties, but only gives priority
to its own provisions (“This Convention shall prevail...”). Thus, for a question not
resolved by the LOS Convention, even between States Parties to this Convention, a rule
contained in the 1958 Geneva Convention can be applied.41

40 Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 55-56.


41 In this sense see J. Evensen, “The Delimitation of Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves as
Highlighted by the International Court of Justice”, The New Law of the Sea, Selected and Edited Papers
of the Athens Colloquium on the Law of the Sea, September 1982, edited by Ch. L. Rozakis and C. A.
Stephanou, Amsterdam, New York, Oxford, North-Holland, 1983, pp. 107-154, at pp. 146-147.
94 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

12. Moreover, it is our view that the principles contained in Article 24, paragraph
3 of the 1958 Convention shall be applicable to all States Parties to the LOS Convention
and not only to those among them which are also Parties to the Geneva Convention.
Namely, the States Parties to the LOS Convention have agreed “that matters not regulated
by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general
international law” (eighth operative paragraph of the Preamble). Delimitation of the
contiguous zone is such a “matter(s) not regulated by this Convention” and the provision
of Article 24, paragraph 3 of the Geneva Convention does contain principles of general
(customary) international law. Notwithstanding the scarce application of this rule in the
practice of States, because of the rare cases of delimitation of the contiguous zone, and
the reluctance of UNCLOS III to include it in the new Convention, we reach such a
conclusion primarily because of the close link between the contiguous zone and the
territorial sea. The validity of the principles on the delimitation of the territorial sea of
neighbouring States contained in Article 12 of the Geneva Convention has been confirmed
by Article 15 of the new Convention, and the same principles have to determine the
delimitation of the contiguous zone – a régime at sea in which the coastal State exercises
control in order to prevent and punish infringements of its laws and regulations within
its territorial sea (or territory).42 It was precisely because of the close link between the
problems of delimitation of the territorial sea and the contiguous zone that the Yugoslav
proposal for Article 24, paragraph 3, of the 1958 Geneva Convention, basing the delimita-
tion of both regimes upon the same main criteria, was accepted by such a vast majority
at UNCLOS I.
13. In relation to the delimitation of the contiguous zone one more question remains
to be answered. Is the LOS Convention’s settlement of disputes system applicable also
to disputes concerning the delimitation of the contiguous zone? Contrary to C.P. Econo-

42 In this sense Z. Perišić, “Spoljni morski pojas u budućoj konvenciji o pravu mora”, JRMP, Vol. 26, Nos.
1-3, 1979, pp. 135-144, at p. 142. Professor Nakamura says: “In so far as the contiguous zone is interpreted
to be further seaward expansion of the coastal State’s authority in its land territory and territorial sea, the
principle of its delimitation should be devised in line with that of the territorial sea”, K. Nakamura, “The
Delimitation of Sea Areas and the Partition of Resources”, The Frontier of the Seas – The Problems of
Delimitation..., pp. 58-64, at p. 63. See also Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine
Area, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 246, at p. 302 (para 120).
An interesting example of the connection between the delimitation of the territorial sea and the contiguous
zone is provided by the Convention between France and Spain on the Delimitation of the Territorial Sea
and the Contiguous Zone in the Gulf of Gascogne (Gulf of Biscay), signed in Paris on the 29 January 1974
(ST/LEG/SER.B/19, pp. 395-396). As the agreed line at present delimits the territorial sea of one State
(France) from the territorial sea and the contiguous zone of the other (Spain), the following is a provision
for possible changes in the future: “Il est convenu que, dans l’éventualité où l’Espagne étendrait à douze
milles la largeur de sa mer territoriale, la ligne MPQ deviendrait la ligne de partage des mers territoriales
respectives des deux Etats.” (Art. 3).
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 95

mides,43 we are of the opinion that it is not. Our answer is negative because the settle-
ment of disputes system (Part XV of the Convention) applies to “any dispute concerning
the interpretation or application of this Convention...” (Art. 279 and 286). As delimitation
of the contiguous zone is not a matter covered by the Convention, neither the general
provisions (Part XV, Section 1) nor the compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions
(Section 2) or the optional exceptions to the applicability of Section 2 (Art. 298, para.1/a/)
are applicable to the disputes concerning delimitation of the contiguous zone.

3. EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE AND CONTINENTAL SHELF

14. The long and different discussions at UNCLOS III concerning the provisions on the
delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf were characterized
by the confrontation of two groups of States with conflicting views: the so-called “pro-
equidistance” and “pro-equity” States. We have no intention here to enter either into
an analysis of the arguments of the two groups or into a review of their protracted
negotiations; we shall only try to evaluate the final result of the Conference’s efforts
in this field: Article 74 (Delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between States
with opposite or adjacent coasts) and Article 83 (Delimitation of the continental shelf
between States with opposite or adjacent coasts) of the LOS Convention. The content
of the two articles is identical and they consist of four paragraphs.

PARAGRAPH 1 – DELIMITATION AGREEMENT

15. The authors of several drafts of the LOS Convention (ISNT, RSNT, ICNT) tried
to follow the example of the 1958 codification: to draw up a normative provision
enumerating the relevant criteria for the final delimitation of the exclusive economic zone
and the continental shelf between adjacent or opposite States.44 The persistent opposing
views of the two groups of States, notwithstanding the notable chairmanship of Judge
Manner, rendered that goal unattainable. As the primacy of the agreement was not
controversial, there was some hope at one time that by reducing the role of other criteria
(equitable principles, median or equidistance line, relevant circumstances), and by saying
that the agreement had to be “in conformity with international law” (ICNT/Rev. 2),45

43 C.P. Economides, “The Contiguous Zone, Today and Tomorrow”, The New Law of the Sea..., pp. 69-81,
at p. 76.
44 For the chronology of the negotiations, see Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment,
dissenting opinion of Judge Oda, I.C.J. Reports 1982, pp. 234-247 (paras. 131-147); Jagota, op. cit., pp.
165-192; Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 92-96.
45 Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.10/Rev.2, 11 April 1980. See also the Report of the Chairman on the Work of the
Negotiating Group 7, doc. A/CONF.62/L.47, pp. 2-3, paras. 4 and 7 (2).
96 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

the text of paragraph 1 could command the support of all interested States. This optimism
proved to be unfounded as the two groups continued in their efforts to affirm the “equit-
able principles” and the “median or equidistance line”.
However, in August 1981 the two groups accepted the suggestion of the President
of the Conference, T.T.B. Koh (Singapore), based on the requirement that delimitation
be effected “by agreement on the basis of international law”. It has been added that
international law, for this purpose, is to be found “in Article 38 of the Statute of the
International Court of Justice” and that the purpose of every delimitation agreement is
to “achieve an equitable solution”.46
16. What were the reasons for accepting the formula proposed by the President? In
our view, it was the conviction of both groups of States that it was impossible to have
a formula for paragraph 1 entirely favourable to one group whilst not making the delimita-
tion provision unacceptable for the other.47 The ICNT formula48 was not acceptable
for the “equidistance” group, and the “equitable principles” group protested vigorously
against the “Manner formula” inserted in ICNT/Rev.2.49 Having reached such an
impasse, and wishing to show some progress at the Conference at the time of the US
“policy review”, the majority of States belonging to both groups accepted the vague,
but – for their interests – apparently harmless “Koh formula”.50 Or as stated by Judge
Oda:

“It could be pointed out that Articles 74/83 of the draft convention on the Law of the Sea from
a catchall provision that ought to satisfy both, and that is indeed its merit. Given, however,
the difficulty of deriving any positive meaning from these provisions, it would seem that the
satisfaction must be essentially of a negative kind, i.e., pleasure that the opposing school has
not been expressly vindicated.”51

46 Paragraph 1 of Article 74 and 83 reads as follows: “The delimitation of the exclusive economic zone/
continental shelf between States with opposite or adjacent coasts shall be effected by agreement on the basis
of international law, as referred to in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, in order
to achieve an equitable solution”, A/CONF.62/WP.11, 27 August 1981.
47 Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment, dissenting opinion of Judge Evensen, I.C.J.
Reports 1982, p. 281 (para 4).
48 “The delimitation of the exclusive economic zone/continental shelf between adjacent or opposite States
shall be effected by agreement in accordance with equitable principles, employing, where appropriate, the
median or equidistance line, and taking account of all the relevant circumstances.” A/CONF.62/WP.10.
49 “The delimitation of the exclusive economic zone/continental shelf between States with opposite or adjacent
coasts shall be effected by agreement in conformity with international law. Such an agreement shall be in
accordance with equitable principles, employing the median or equidistance line, where appropriate, and
taking account of all circumstances prevailing in the area concerned.” A/CONF.62/WP.10/Rev.2.
50 See B.H. Oxman, “The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: The Tenth Session (1981)”,
AJIL, Vol. 76, No. 1, 1982, pp. 1-23, at pp. 14-15.
51 Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment, dissenting opinion of Judge Oda, I.C.J. Reports
1982, p. 246 (para. 143).
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 97

Be that as it may, instead of having a normative provision, we are today in possession


of a more or less “empty formula” (Judge Gros). Some are of the opinion that the effect
of this formula is a status quo in relation to the previously existing law (L. Caflisch,
H. Dipla),52 but Judge Gros claims that:

“All the gains represented by the legal edifice of 1958, the 1969 Judgment and the 1977
Decision, have thus been destroyed by the effect of those two articles of the 1982 Convention,
which take no account of that jurisprudence and efface it by the use of an empty formula”.53

In 1982 not even the International Court of Justice itself expressed a positive opinion
concerning the formula contained in paragraph 1 of Articles 74 and 83:

“In the new text, any indication of a specific criterion which could give guidance to the interested
States in their effort to achieve an equitable solution has been excluded”.54

However, when the 1981 formula became the final text of the Convention, a Chamber
of the I.C.J. pointed to a more positive aspect of the same provision:

“Although the text is singularly concise it serves to open the door to continuation of the develop-
ment effected in this field by international case law”.55

17. Though extremely concise, the final formula of paragraph 1 will obviously cause
problems of interpretation; some have already been indicated in the declarations of States
at the Conference or pointed out by the doctrine and international judicial decisions.
Controversies relate to the particular elements constituting paragraph 1 (agreement,
international law, equitable solution) as well as to the mutual relation of these elements.
Agreement – The meaning and content of the duty of neighbouring States to effect
delimitation by agreement has recently been explained and elaborated by the International
Court of Justice in the Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area
case:

“No maritime delimitation between States with opposite or adjacent coasts may be effected
unilaterally by one of those States. Such delimitation must be sought and effected by means

52 Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 97-99; Dipla, op. cit., p. 221.


53 Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area, Judgment, dissenting opinion of Judge
Gros, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 365 (para. 8). See also Oxman, op. cit., pp. 14-15; Jagota, op. cit., p. 190.
54 Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1982, p. 49 (para. 50).
55 Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 294
(para. 95).
98 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

of an agreement, following negotiations conducted in good faith and with the genuine intention
of achieving a positive result.”56

The reproach that for-obliging States to conclude agreements on delimitation paragraph 1


is contrary to the principle of conventional freedom,57 does not take into account the
ratio legis of this obligation: to prevent unilateral decisions on delimitation. One has
to agree with Judge Oda, that the effect of the provision that delimitation should be
effected by agreement “is merely to confirm that a general rule for the conduct of inter-
State relations is applicable to the subject of delimitation”.58 In the Delimitation of the
Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area case, the I.C.J. made it clear that the
principle “that any delimitation must be effected by agreement between the States
concerned” may be executed “either by the conclusion of a direct agreement or, if need
be, by some alternative method, which must, however, be based on consent”.59 Further-
more, in the opinion of the Court, the principle that delimitation must be effected by
agreement is a principle “already clearly affirmed by customary international law”, a
principle which is “undoubtedly of general application, valid for all States and in relation
to all kinds of maritime delimitation.”60
International Law – The meaning of the term “international law as referred to in
Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice” should not cause major
problems. Although Article 38 in its entirety has been mentioned, only its first paragraph
refers to international law. Paragraph 2 deals with the power of the Court to decide ex
aequo et bono, and thus is of no relevance in relation to the agreement that has to be
concluded between the neighbouring States on the basis of international law.61
Besides the traditional dilemmas concerning Article 38, paragraph 1 of the Statute,
in view of the role played by the I.C.J. and international arbitration in the settlement
of recent cases concerning maritime boundaries, the question may be asked whether in
this field the role of judicial decisions amounts to something more than a “subsidiary
means for the determination of rules of law”.62 The answer should be negative,63

56 Ibid., p. 299 (para. 112); see also p. 292 (para. 87).


57 See Caflisch, op. cit., p. 100; Dipla, op. cit., pp. 221 and 225.
58 Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment, dissenting opinion of Judge Oda, I.C.J. Reports
1982, p. 246 (para 144).
59 I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 292 (para. 89).
60 Ibid., pp. 292-293 (para. 90).
61 See Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 102-103; Evensen, op. cit., p. 118.
62 Treves claims that the reference to international law denotes, in the first place “the body of criteria resulting
from the entirety of the agreements on delimitation and of international judicial decisions...”, Treves, op.
cit., p. 34. See also Caflisch, op. cit., p. 97 and note (171).
63 See Evensen, op. cit., pp. 117-118. The I.C.J., called into the Gulf of Maine case to ascertain the principles
and rules of international law which govern the subject of maritime delimitation, referred only to conventions
and international custom (Art. 38, para. 1(a) and (b) of its Statute), I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 290 (para. 83).
One should agree with Caflisch that “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations” (Art.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 99

although it is only the empty and vague formula of paragraph 1 of Articles 74 and 83
of the LOS Convention that opens the door to a creative interpretation of the existing
law and offers the possibility of influencing the development of customary law.
More controversial will be the content of applicable international law (treaties and
custom) referred to by Article 38 of the Statute. S.P. Jagota studied a sample of 75
agreements on maritime boundaries whose “provisions will be a source of general or
particular international law binding on the parties to those treaties; their provisions may
be evidence of existing customary law, or may crystalise the emerging custom on the
point, or may be the source of development of custom in that direction.”64 His analysis
showed that in 65 agreements the boundary line was a median or equidistance line (true,
simplified or modified), but he did not draw any conclusion concerning customary law.65
Anyway, there will be fewer problems in finding international rules on the delimitation
of the continental shelf – a problem dealt with extensively by State practice and inter-
national tribunals – than rules concerning the delimitation of the exclusive economic
zone, a new problem.66 Thus, in the opinion of L. Caflisch and H. Dipla, Article 6 of
the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf will continue to be applied between States
party to that Convention, an assertion strengthened by Article 311 of the LOS Convention,
according to which the new Convention prevails over the Geneva Conventions, but does
not terminate them (para. 1), and the provision that Article 311 “does not affect inter-
national agreements expressly permitted or preserved by other articles of this Convention”
(para. 5).67
One of the possible interpretations of the “empty” formula of paragraph 1 in relation
to applicable international law was indicated by A. Aguilar at the Eleventh Session of
the Conference, and was one of the reasons for the negative vote cast by Venezuela in
relation to the LOS Convention:

“In the absence, then, of particular conventions the rules expressly recognized in general
international conventions by the States parties to a dispute would necessarily apply, and, if those
conventions contained a provision similar to article 15 of the draft Convention, it could be argued
that, for lack of any other substantive provision, the criterion established in that regulation would
apply by analogy not only to the delimitation of the territorial sea but also to the delimitation
of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf.”68

38, para. 1(c) of the Statute) cannot play an important role in this field; Caflisch, op. cit., note (171) at p.
97.
64 Jagota, op. cit., p. 104.
65 Ibid., p. 131.
66 Brown, op. cit., pp. 181-182; Caflisch, op. cit., 98-99; Dipla, op. cit., pp. 224-225.
67 Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 97 (and note (172)) and 104; Dipla, op. cit., p. 220.
68 Doc. A/CONF.62/SR.158 (Provisional), p. 5.
100 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

Equitable Solution – The goal of delimitation effected by agreement on the basis of


international law is “to achieve an equitable solution”. Thus, as the International Court
of Justice warned, it is not a question of applying any existing international rule, but
only “those which are appropriate to bring about an equitable result...”.69
The vagueness of the term “equitable solution” is best expressed by Judge Jiménez
de Aréchaga in his separate opinion on the Judgment of the I.C.J. in the Continental
Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) case:

“This text does not place geographical limits nor does it qualify in any other way the equitable
solution which is to be achieved of a dispute concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf
between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.”70

18. More controversial than the scope of the particular elements is their mutual relation
within the formula contained in paragraph 1 of Articles 74 and 83.
The content of all the provisions on delimitation in this very Convention and those
in the 1958 Geneva Convention, as well as the negotiating record of paragraph 1, clearly
show that priority is to be given to the agreement. This being so, the only limit to the
contractual freedom of the States concerned in stipulating an agreement could be a jus
cogens rule imposing some criteria of delimitation. As judicial practice and UNCLOS
III have proved, there is no such jus cogens in the field of delimitation of maritime
boundaries. Thus, any agreement concluded between the States concerned, and valid in
accordance with the law of treaties, satisfies the requirements of paragraph 1. The
existence of “international law, as referred to in Article 38 of the Statute of the Inter-
national Court of Justice” and the duty “to achieve an equitable solution” will surely
be taken into account in the negotiations of such an agreement, but whatever the relation
of the final content of the agreement with applicable international rules and equity, the
agreement will be valid. This is true also for an agreement the States involved in a
delimitation dispute should reach after a conciliation commission has presented its report,
although they have an obligation to “negotiate an agreement on the basis of that report”
(Art. 298, para. 1 /a//ii/). The report should help them in their negotiations; it provides
the basis for an agreement, but the States concerned are free to reach the agreement on
quite different terms.
If the States concerned are unable to reach an agreement, and the case is, in accord-
ance with paragraph 2 of Articles 74 and 83, brought before international courts, tribunals
or commissions, the content of paragraph 1 has to be interpreted in a different way.

69 I.C.J. Reports 1982, p. 49 (para. 50).


70 Ibid., p. 104 (para. 17). See also the dissenting opinion of Judge Oda, Ibid., pp. 246-247 (para. 144) and
Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area, Judgment, dissenting opinion of Judge
Gros, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 377 (para. 27).
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 101

Contrary to the States themselves, the international bodies are obliged to apply to the
dispute “international law, as referred to in Article 38 of the Statute of the International
Court of Justice” (except if they are asked to decide ex aequo et bono). In applying
international law, they too shall have “to achieve an equitable solution”.71
19. The wording of paragraph 1 of Articles 74 and 83 being identical, it is often asked
whether the boundary of the exclusive economic zones and the continental shelves of
two neighbouring States should necessarily coincide.
As the States concerned are free to delimit their maritime zones by agreement, they
are entitled to determine a separate boundary for the water column from the one agreed
upon for the sea-bed, and in some instances there will exist justified reasons for doing
so.72 If there are two separate boundaries, the exclusive economic zone (consisting of
the sea-bed and its subsoil, the superjacent waters and the air space) will be divided and
the continental shelf of one State covered by the waters belonging to the exclusive
economic zone of the other State(s). Different boundaries for the water column and the
sea-bed in some cases already exist,73 and by requesting the I.C.J. to determine “the
course of the single maritime boundary that divides the continental shelf and fisheries
zones” in the Gulf of Maine, Canada and the United States have shown that they did
not exclude the possibility of the Court determining two different boundaries.74 In the
case of the Island of Jan Mayen the Conciliation Commission suggested the establishment
of a sea-bed zone of joint exploitation for Norway and Iceland, part of which is situated
under the exclusive economic zone of Iceland as determined by the 1980 Agreement
of the two States.75
Although respecting the freedom of States to negotiate different boundaries, and the
occasionally serious reasons for doing so, we share the view of those who advocate the
delimitation of a single boundary for both the exclusive economic zone and the continental

71 K.M. Ioannu, “Some Preliminary Remarks on Equity in the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea”, The
New law of the Sea..., pp. 97-106, at p. 104. As paragraph 1 of Article 74 and 83 refers to Article 38 of
the I.C.J. Statute in general, Degan indicates the possibility that an international court or tribunal, asked
to decide a case and not finding adequate rules based on the sources of international law (para. 1 of Art.
38), may decide a case ex aequo et bono, V.- . Degan, “Kriteriji razgraničenja morskih prostranstava
izmedudržava”, Uporedno pravo i pomorska kupoprodaja, No. 100, 1983, pp. 43-84, at pp. 79-80. See
also Caflisch, op. cit., p. 101, Dipla, op. cit., 221-222.
72 See Evensen, op. cit., p. 145; Degan, op. cit., p. 80.
73 Treaty Between the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and Australia Concerning Sovereignty and
Maritime Boundaries in the Area between the Two Countries, including the Area Known as Torres Strait,
and Related Matters, Sydney, December 18, 1978, ILM, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1979, p. 291.
74 Article II of the Special Agreement of 29 March 1979, I.C.J. Reports 1984, p. 253. See also Treves, op.
cit., p. 15.
75 Report and Recommendations to the Governments of Iceland and Norway of the Conciliation Commission
on the Continental Shelf area Between Iceland and Jan Mayen, ILM, Vol. 20, No. 4, 1981, p. 797. See also
R.R. Churcill, “Maritime delimitation in the Jan Mayen area”, Marine Policy, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1985, pp. 16-38.
102 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

shelf.76 The result of different boundaries could be, for example, an artificial island,
structure or installation fixed in the sea-bed and its subsoil under the jurisdiction of one
State, which will have to operate under the control of another State having jurisdiction
over the water column. It is equaly difficult to conceive the distribution of jurisdiction
of the neighbouring States in relations to the protection of the marine environment or
scientific research, as well as in regard to sovereign rights to economic exploration and
exploitation activities.77
20. Although the same provision applies to the delimitation of both opposite and
adjacent coasts, different international rules can be applied in the boundary delimitation
of States with adjacent and opposite coasts. Paragraph 1 of Articles 74 and 83 is a flexible
framework permitting the application of different solutions to different kinds of situations;
extreme flexibility and vagueness are the main characteristics of this provision.

PARAGRAPH 2 – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES

21. Since the first draft – the ISNT – this paragraph has remained unchanged. The purpose
of this provision is to clarify that problems in reaching an agreement on delimitation
after “a reasonable period of time” become “disputes concerning the interpretation or
application” of the Convention which have to be resolved by applying the procedures
provided for in Part XV of the Convention. It is possible that the explicit reference to
the settlement of disputes procedures in relation to the delimitation of the exclusive
economic zone and the continental shelf, and the absence of such a provision concerning
the delimitation of the territorial sea (Art. 15), cause different interpretations and problems
in the application of Part XV to delimitation disputes.78
The condition of a lapse of “a reasonable period of time” should not cause problems
of interpretation: as the first procedure for the settlement of any dispute under Part XV
is an exchange of views between the parties (Art. 283), there is no substantive difference
between the resort to that dispute settlement procedure and the initial contacts between
the parties, the purpose of which is the conclusion of the delimitation agreement.
As has already been stated. It is only in the application of the procedures for the
settlement of a disputed delimitation, rather than in the conclusion of agreements between
the concerned States, that “international law” and “equitable solution”, although not
defined in the Convention itself, shall play a major role.

76 See Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahirya), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1982, dissenting opinion
of Judge Jiménez de Aréchaga, pp. 101-102 (para. 56), dissenting opinion of Judge Evensen, pp. 288 (para.
10) and 319 (Conclusions). See also Caflisch, op. cit., pp. 99-100; Treves, op. cit., p. 34.
77 See Caflisch, op. cit., p. 100.
78 Ibid., pp. 109-110.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 103

PARAGRAPH 3 – PROVISIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

22. Contrary to paragraph 2, the content of paragraph 3 on “interim measures” was


changed several times. Paragraph 3 of the ISNT contained a rule entitling States, pending
agreement, to extend their exclusive economic zones (continental shelves) to the median
or equidistance line. The concept of paragraph 3 was changed in the RSNT: instead of
supplying a criterion for the “provisional delimitation”, it obliged the States concerned,
pending agreement or settlement, to make provisional arrangements. In the drawing up
of such arrangements States were required to take into account the criteria for final
delimitation enumerated in paragraph 1 of Articles 62 and 71 of the RSNT.
The final text of paragraph 3 was already inserted in ICNT /Revision 2, in April
1980. Under this provision, States have two obligations in the transitional period pending
agreement: to “make every effort to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical
nature”, and “not to jeopardize or hamper the reaching of the final settlement”. Any
reference to delimitation criteria has been deleted, and the statement made that provisional
arrangements “shall be without prejudice to the final delimitation”.
The final text of paragraph 3 can be better understood with the help of the statements
and reports of the Chairman of Negotiating Group 779 who suggested the compromise,
albeit through a somewhat clumsy and vague formula.80
23. The term “provisional arrangements” should be interpreted as meaning arrange-
ments agreed upon between the States concerned, to regulate their economic and other
activities. According to some delegations, such arrangements may contain the establish-
ment of so-called “white” or “grey” zones.81
As paragraph 3 of Articles 74 and 83 of the ICNT provided that States concerned
“shall make provisional arrangements”, Judge Manner was of the opinion that this
formulation was not clear enough as it seemed to cover “both unilateral and agreed
arrangements”.82 The final formulation is more specific. It is based on a joint proposal
by India, Iraq and Morocco, defining provisional arrangements as “of mutual restraint
or mutual accomodation”.83 Consequently, the final text speaks of making efforts to
enter into arrangements, which cannot be interpreted as meaning unilateral arrangements.
The requirements that provisional arrangements shall not “jeopardize or hamper the
reaching of the final settlement” and that they “shall be without prejudice to the final
delimitation” should not, in our view, be understood as limiting the freedom of the States
concerned in choosing the content of such arrangements. The main consequence of the

79 Doc. NG7/21, 17 May 1978; NG7/23, 12 September 1978; NG7/24, 14 September 1978; NG7/26, 26 March
1979; NG7/27, 27 March 1979 and NG7/39, 20 April 1979.
80 Doc. NG7/45, 22 August 1979, p. 3 and A/CONF.62/L.47, 24 March 1980, Annex.
81 Doc. NG7/21, p. 2; NG7/23; NG7/26, pp. 2-3.
82 Doc. NG7/26, p. 3.
83 Doc. NG7/32, 5 April 1979.
104 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

quoted phrases is that neither of the parties is entitled to base its claims, in the final
delimitation, on such arrangements.
As some delegations advocated the inclusion of a provision obliging States to agree
on provisional arrangements, and others were in favour of a rule only encouraging the
conclusion of such arrangements,84 Judge Manner had to propose a compromise solution.
While this formula (“shall make every effort”) would in some municipal laws represent
a true legal obligation, in international law its legal effects are dubious.
24. On the basis of paragraph 3, provisional arrangements should be entered into
throughout the whole delimitation process which, in some cases, may consist of several
different stages. States should enter into provisional arrangements: a) during the initial
negotiations of a delimitation agreement; b) pending the report of the conciliation commis-
sion; c) during the negotiations of an agreement on the basis of the report. If the delimita-
tion dispute has been submitted to a procedure entailing binding decision, the role of
provisional arrangements under paragraph 3 will in principle be substituted by provisional
measures which a court or tribunal may prescribe (Art. 290).85 However, any court or
tribunal is entitled to prescribe a provisional arrangement under paragraph 3 as an
appropriate provisional measure.

PARAGRAPH 4 – PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS

25. The provision contained in this paragraph is probably one of those which will cause
problems of interpretation and application, a consequence not only of its vague content,
but also of the fact that this provision was neglected in the UNCLOS III negotiations.
This provision has its origin in a working paper “containing certain basic principles
on an economic zone and on delimitation” submitted by the delegations from Australia
and Norway to the Sea-Bed Committee.86 Paragraph 2 of that paper, among other rules
on delimitation, contained the following provision:

“(b) Where there is an agreement between the States concerned, questions relating to the
delimitation of their (economic zones – patrimonial seas) and their sea-bed areas shall be
determined in accordance with the provisions of that agreement.”

Although originally proposed in a document on the régime of the economic zone, this
provision was in the “Main trends” included only in the provisions on the delimitation

84 NG7/26, p. 2.
85 Caflisch, op. cit., p. 112.
86 Doc. A/AC.138/SC.II/L.36, Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean
Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction. Vol. III, General Assembly, Official Records: Twenty-eighth
Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/9021), 1973, pp. 77-78.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 105

of the continental shelf (Provision 83).87 In better concordance with the Australo-Nor-
wegian suggestion was the solution of R. Galindo-Pohl, Chairman of the Second Commit-
tee in 1975 included in the article of the ISNT dealing with the delimitation of the
exclusive economic zone (Art. 61, para. 6) as well as in the article on the delimitation
of the continental shelf (Art. 70, para. 6).88 These two ISNT paragraphs did not undergo
any change in subsequent drafts and became paragraph 4 of Articles 74 and 83 of the
LOS Convention.89
26. The main problem of this provision is the determination of what is really meant
by the term “agreement in force between the States concerned”. Presumably, we run no
risk if we conclude that the aim of the drafters was an agreement concerning delimitation.
But what agreement? Two answers are possible, though neither are properly satisfactory.
a) Taking into account the structure and the wording of Articles 74 and 83, it may
seem logical at first glance that the “agreement in force” refers to the agreement men-
tioned in paragraphs 1-3 of each of these Articles. But the consequence of such an
interpretation would deprive paragraph 4 of any sound meaning. It would in fact suggest
that the purpose of this provision is to state that “questions relating to the delimitation
of the continental shelf shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of” the
agreement delimiting this very continental shelf. If this interpretation were correct, it
would be very difficult to find in this provision anything more than a mere pleonasm,
as there does not seem to be any real difference between “delimitation” and “questions
relating to delimitation”. Perhaps this was to be a confirmation of the duty of States to
perform delimitation agreements in good faith and in their entirety. But, was it necessary
to reaffirm here these general principles of the law of treaties? If the wish of the drafters
was to say something more about the consequences of the delimitation agreement for
the relations of States with opposite or adjacent coasts (e.g. concerning their co-operation),
they should have done so in much clearer terms.
b) According to the second interpretation, the “agreement in force” is not that men-
tioned in paragraph 1, but another on the delimitation of maritime zones in force between
the same two States.90 Such an interpretation could be based on the original proposal
for that provision. Namely, in suggesting provisions concerning the delimitation of a
new zone of the “waters, the sea-bed and the subsoil thereof”,91 Australia and Norway
proposed delimitation criteria which in the 1958 Geneva Conventions provide for the

87 See provisions 82-84 and 116-117 in doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/WP.1.


88 A/CONF.62/WP.8/Part II.
89 It reads: “Where there is an agreement in force between the States concerned, questions relating to the
delimitation of the exclusive economic zone/continental shelf shall be determined in accordance with the
provisions of that agreement.”
90 Degan is of the opinion that Article 74, paragraph 4 had in view the already existing agreements on the
delimitation of the continental shelf, Degan, op. cit., pp. 72 and 80.
91 Paragraph 1(b) of doc. A/AC.138/SC.II/L.36.
106 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

delimitation of the territorial sea and the continental shelf.92 Thus, it is plausible that
they suggested a concordance between all the agreements on the delimitation of maritime
zones between two neighbouring States.
However, the situation regarding the delimitation articles of the LOS Convention
is different from the one envisaged by the Australo-Norwegian working paper. While
the criteria for the delimitation of the territorial sea (Art. 15) are the same as in the 1958
Convention, in relation to the continental shelf a new formula has been adopted (Art.
83, para. 1). The same new formula has been adopted also for the new régime – the
exclusive economic zone (Art. 74, para. 1). Nevertheless, in the majority of cases it would
be natural that new agreements on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone or
the continental shelf are concluded in accordance with existing agreements on the delimita-
tion of other maritime zones between the same opposite or adjacent States. Thus, on the
basis of this second interpretation, paragraph 4 could serve a useful purpose in facilitating
the delimitation of opposite or adjacent States between which a delimitation agreement
already exists.

4. SETTLEMENT OF DELIMITATION DISPUTES

27. The inclusion of an obligatory system of disputes settlement in the LOS Convention
is one of the major innovations and improvements of the law of the sea attained at
UNCLOS III. However, in relation to disputes concerning sea boundary delimitations,
the scope of this innovation has been radically reduced as a concession to States opposed
to any obligatory procedure of dispute settlement.93 Disputes concerning the interpretation
or application of Articles 15, 74 and 83 relating to sea boundary delimitations of the
territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf are one of the
categories of disputes in relation to which States may make exceptions to the applicability
of compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions (Art. 298). A State may declare
that it does not accept any one, or more, of such procedures provided for in Section 2
of Part XV (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, International Court of Justice,
arbitral tribunal, special arbitral tribunal).
28. What then remains of the Convention’s settlement of disputes system to be applied
to boundary delimitation disputes in relation to States which have made a declaration
excluding all the procedures provided for in Section 2? First of all, States cannot exclude
the application of Section 1 of Part XV (which includes the obligation to exchange views
between parties, and the application of conciliation). Furthermore, by excluding the

92 Paragraph 2(d) of doc. A/AC.138/SC.II/L.36.


93 Caflisch, op. cit., p. 111; V. Ibler, “Sistem mirnog rješavanja sporova”, Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje
prava i medunarodno pravo, Vol. 15, No. 17, 1982, pp. 260-281, at pp. 274-275.
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 107

application of Section 2, a State automatically thereby accepts the submission of disputes


to compulsory conciliation: any party to a dispute with a State which has made a declara-
tion is entitled to submit the matter to conciliation under Annex V, Section 2 to the
Convention. However, obligatory conciliation is waived when disputes have arisen prior
to the entry into force of the Convention and when they necessarily involve “the con-
current consideration of any unsettled dispute concerning sovereignty or other rights over
continental or insular land territory” (Art. 298, para. 1/a//i/).
Although “obligatory” conciliation does not entail a binding decision, obligations
of States are the report of the conciliation commission are twofold: a) they have to
“negotiate an agreement on the basis of that report”, and b) “if these negotiations do
not result in an agreement, the parties shall, by mutual consent, submit the question to
one of the procedures provided for in section 2, unless the parties otherwise agree” (Art.
298, para. 1/a//ii/). These two obligations are defined by E.D. Brown as pactum de
contrahendo.94
There is another limitation to the whole procedure envisaged for sea boundary
disputes: it “does not apply to any sea boundary dispute finally settled by an arrangement
between the parties, or to any such dispute which is to be settled in accordance with
a bilateral or multilateral agreement binding upon those parties” (Art. 298, para. 2/a//iii/).
29. Declarations excluding the application of procedures provided for in Section 2
may be made at the time of signature, ratification or accession “or at any time thereafter”
(Art. 298, para. 1).95 However, it seems that the submission of a dispute to a court or
tribunal marks the end of the period in which the possibility of making a declaration
existed:

“A new declaration, or the withdrawal of a declaration, does not in any way affect proceedings
pending before a court or tribunal in accordance with this article, unless the parties otherwise
agree.” (Art. 298, para. 5)

The main problem which may be encountered by the conciliation commission in applying
the above provisions relates to their temporal scope.96 The obligation to submit disputes
to conciliation applies only “when such a dispute arises subsequent to the entry into force
of this Convention and where no agreement within a reasonable period of time is reached
in negotiations between the parties” (Art. 298, para. 1/a/i/). It is unclear: a) for whom

94 Brown, op. cit., p. 181.


95 Several States made declarations excluding the application of all the procedures entailing binding decisions:
Byelorussian SSR, German Democratic Republic, Ukrainian SSR, USSR upon signature, and Egypt upon
ratification; Law of the Sea Bulletin, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the
Law of the Sea, No. 1, September 1983, pp. 30-31; No. 3, March 1984, p. 15.
96 Brown, op. cit., p. 181.
108 7 – LOS CONVENTION AND DELIMITATION

the Convention has to be in force, b) how the date when the dispute may be considered
to have arisen is to be determined, and c) what a “reasonable period of time” is.

5. CONCLUSIONS

30. Any effort to evaluate the result of UNCLOS III concerning sea boundary delimitation
is confronted with the problem of a criterion for such an evaluation. Once the Convention
enters into force and more agreements on delimitation are concluded and judicial decisions
rendered, an evaluation of the impact of the Convention could be more reliable. For the
time being it is only possible to analyse to what extent the new provisions on sea bound-
ary delimitation correspond to the intention of the Conference to achieve “codification
and progressive development of the law of the sea” (seventh operative paragraph of the
Preamble to the Convention). On the basis of the above analysis, the results of the efforts
of the Conference in this field can be summarized as follows:
a) The provisions on the delimitation of the territorial sea, with minor stylistic changes,
reproduce the rules laid down in the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the
Contiguous Zone.
b) The omission of any rule on the delimitation of the contiguous zone between States
with opposite or adjacent coasts has opened the way to different interpretations
concerning the reasons and consequences of such a departure from the 1958 Geneva
codification.
c) Instead of establishing more precise criteria for the delimitation of the continental
shelf on the basis of experience in the application of the Geneva Convention on the
Continental Shelf, UNCLOS III has produced an empty formula referring to existing
international law, which can be of little help to States and international tribunals.
d) The same formula as for the continental shelf has been adopted for the delimitation
of the new maritime zone under the jurisdiction of the coastal States – the exclusive
economic zone. The uselessness of such a solution here is even more apparent, as
the LOS Convention is the first multilateral international treaty providing rules on
the exclusive economic zone. For this reason reliable criteria for all future delimita-
tions of this zone would have been invaluable.
e) During the transitional period pending agreement on the delimitation of the exclusive
economic zone and the continental shelf, States concerned are invited “to make every
effort to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature”. The effectiveness
of this provision is doubtful and one should not regret that it has not been duplicated
in the delimitation of the territorial sea.
f) The rule concerning the determination of the “questions relating to the delimitation”
of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf in accordance with previous
IV – DELIMITATION OF MARITIME AREAS 109

agreements will probably, due to its vagueness, be a source of future delimitation


disputes rather than an asset in forthcoming delimitations.
g) Disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the provisions relating to
sea boundary delimitations are one of the categories of disputes in respect to which
States may exclude the application of compulsory procedures entailing binding
decisions. Taking into account the characteristics of the Convention’s substantive
provisions on delimitation, it is doubtful whether it would have been wiser to force
States to adopt the integral disputes settlement system for disputes concerning de-
limitation too.
Do these elements of the delimitation “package deal” deserve to be defined as “codifica-
tion and progressive development of the law of the sea”? From a technical point of view
all these provisions leave much to be desired and, to some extent, even create confusion
in regard to applicable international law by reducing and eliminating some of the existing
norms (delimitation of the contiguous zone and the continental shelf). Nevertheless, they
were the only attainable result of the Conference’s efforts to resolve this hard-core issue;
being the result of the political will of States participating at UNCLOS III (with few
exceptions), they represent “codification and progressive development of the law of the
sea”, although not very successfully. This being so, States will have to employ all their
tolerance and political wisdom in order to avoid any damaging effects resulting from
the meagre results of UNCLOS III in the field of sea boundary delimitation.
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V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA
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Chapter 8

THE 1982 UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW


OF THE SEA AND THE PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES
OF THE SEA*

1. The codification and the progressive development of international rules on the protec-
tion and preservation of the marine environment are one of the major achievements of
the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III). These rules
are mainly contained in Part XII of the new United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea, opened for signature at Montego Bay (Jamaica), on 10 December 1982. The
purpose of this short paper is not to analyse all the Convention’s provisions on the
protection and preservation of the marine environment, but only those relating to the
protection of the living resources of the sea.
2. Some of the general principles on the protection and preservation of the marine
environment, contained in Section 1 of Part XII, do not relate only to the fight against
the pollution of the seas. Thus, the general obligation of States to protect and preserve
the marine environment, codified in art. 192, is applicable to all activities in the marine
environment; the same can be claimed for the principle embodied in art. 193:

“States have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources pursuant to their environmental
policies and in accordance with their duty to protect and preserve the marine environment.”

Art. 196, para. 1 goes beyond the definition of pollution contained in art. 1, para. 1(4)
of the Convention. Namely States have been obliged to “take all measures necessary
to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment resulting from the
use of technologies under their jurisdiction or control, or the intentional or accidental
introduction of species, alien or new, to a particular part of the marine environment, which
may cause significant and harmful changes thereto”.
Finally, art. 194, para. 5 is also worth mentioning in this context. The drafters of
the Convention have stated that the measures taken in order to prevent, reduce or control
pollution “shall Include those necessary to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems
as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of
marine life”.

* First published in Yugoslavia: Legal Framework, Social, Political and Economic Aspects, (Josip Kregar,
Ivan Šimonović, eds.), Narodne novine, Zagreb, 1989. The present text represents a lecture its author
was invited to deliver at a meeting of the European Council of Environmental Law.
114 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

3. Having determined as our main task the analysis of the Convention’s provisions
on the protection of marine life, we have first of all to review all the various regimes
at sea, in which the rights of coastal and all other States have been stated in different
terms.
If the solutions reached at UNCLOS III are compared with previously existing
customary and conventional law, we notice that many changes and innovations have been
adopted in relation to our topic. Some of them can be qualified as a more precise formula-
tion and systematization of existing customary law, which means codification, while others
represent the further development or revision of the existing rules, thus the progressive
development of that part of the law of the sea.
4. As with the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous
Zone, the new overall Convention on the Law of the Sea does not contain substantial
rules on the regime of internal waters. This area is mentioned only incidentaly, mainly
for the purpose of its delimitation along with the territorial sea. That is why there exist
no specific provisions in the new Convention on fishing or the protection of natural
resources in internal waters, rightfully deplored by an IUCN study, as many parts of
internal waters are of primary biological importance for certain species. However, an
interesting new development should be indicated: in the framework of the new legal
regime of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), specific provisions for the conservation
and management of anadromous stocks (art. 66) and catadromous species (art. 67) have
been adopted. We shall deal with these provisions in detail later, in the context of the
EEZ regime, but it should be stressed here that the envisaged system of management
of these species applies not only to the EEZ, but to all waters landward of the outer limit
of the exclusive economic zone, which means also to the territorial seas and the internal
waters. As the primary interest in and responsibility for anadromous stocks has been
recognized by the States of origin of such stocks, the whole system of rules established
in relation to anadromous stocks applies even beyond the sea areas; it includes rivers
in which anadromous stocks originate (art. 66, para. 1).
5. In many aspects the provisions of the new Convention regulating the regime of
the territorial sea further develop the existing law, elaborating in more detail upon the
1958 conventional provisions or codifying customary law as it has developed after the
Geneva codification.
The only provision dealing with fishery in the Geneva Convention on the Territorial
Sea and the Contiguous Zone is art. 14, para. 5 which accords to the coastal State the
right to make laws and regulations in order to prevent foreign fishing vessels from fishing
in its territorial sea. In cases of non-observance of such rules and regulations, the passage
shall not be considered innocent. The idea of the 1958 Convention has been taken over,
redrafted and somewhat broadened in two different provisions of the new Convention
(art. 19, para. 2i and art. 21, para. 1e), but now it has expressly provided for the right
of the coastal State to adopt rules and regulations in respect of “the conservation of the
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 115

living resources of the sea” and “the preservation of the environment of the coastal State
and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution thereof” (art. 21, para. 1d and 1f).
It is the duty of the coastal State to give due publicity to all such laws and regulations,
and foreign ships exercising the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea must
comply with such laws and regulations (art. 22, para. 3 and 4).
Although thus supplemented (and extended now to 12 nautical miles) the regime
of the territorial sea has not been changed in its fundamental elements in relation to the
marine life: the exploration, exploitation, conservation and management of the living
resources of the sea are under the sovereignty of the coastal State.
6. The new regime established for straits used for international navigation – the transit
passage regime – will mainly be applied to territorial waters within straits, although
exceptionally areas of internal waters, exclusive economic zones or even of the high seas
may be part of the straits in which transit passage applies (art. 35-37). Although basically
all these areas retain their original status (art. 35), the State bordering a strait may adopt
rules and regulations relating to the transit passage through the straits “with respect to
fishing vessels, the prevention of fishing, including the stowage of fishing gear” (art.
42, para 1c).
7. The new Convention includes, besides the internal waters and the territorial sea,
a new area under the sovereignty of coastal States – the archipelagic waters of
archipelagic States. For navigation through archipelagic waters foreign ships enjoy either
the right of innocent passage (the same regime they have in the territorial sea) or the
right of archipelagic sea lanes passage. The archipelagic State has the same right to adopt
laws and regulations relating to archipelagic sea lanes passage with respect to fishing
vessels as in the case of transit passage through straits (art. 54). There is a further
provision on fishing in archipelagic waters. Archipelagic States are obliged to respect
existing agreements with other States and they have to recognize traditional fishing rights
and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent neighbouring States in certain
areas falling within archipelagic waters. Nevertheless, the Convention opens the door
for the restriction and extinction of such “historic rights”. They cannot be transfered to
or shared with third States or their nationals, and at the request of any of the States
concerned “the terms and conditions for the exercise of such rights and activities, in-
cluding the nature, the extent and the areas to which they apply, shall, ..., be regulated
by bilateral agreements between them” (art. 51, para. 1).
8. This brief review of the provisions concerning the living resources in sea areas
under the sovereignty of the coastal State shows that the provisions of the Convention
on the Law of the Sea deal mainly with the right of coastal States to adopt laws and
regulations in order to prevent the fishing activities of foreign fishing ships, and, only
in relation to innocent passage in the territorial sea has the right of coastal States to also
legislate in respect of the conservation of the living resources of the sea been pointed
116 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

out. Nowhere has any duty of coastal States in respect to resource management and
conservation been mentioned.
The rights and duties of States concerning the management and conservation of marine
life have become the subject of intense international regulation in areas where coastal
States have only (functional) sovereign rights in respect to living resources and not
(territorial) sovereignty, and in areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
9. The establishment of the exclusive economic zone represents one of the main
innovations in the law of the sea agreed upon at UNCLOS III. There are solid reasons
for the conclusion that this new regime already forms part of the body of customary law
of the sea.
More than eighty States throughout the world established an exclusive economic zone
after the drafting of the basic principles of the regime at the Conference; these principles
are being copied in the majority of national laws on the economic zone. Some coastal
States only proclaimed temporarily exclusive fishing zones, but also within the 200 miles
limit. The majority of States having a territorial sea extending to 200 miles do not claim
more rights in this area than permitted by the EEZ regime. Specialized international
agencies plan their activities taking into account the existence of the regime of the EEZ
(UNEP, FAO). Scholars from various States and representing different concepts of the
law of the sea agree on the adoption of the EEZ regime in general international law.
Such a conclusion concerning the regime of the EEZ necessarily means that all the basic
principles constituting this regime, namely all fundamental norms concerning the rights
and duties of coastal and other States, are also part of customary law. It would be more
difficult to envisage the position of the international community in regard to the more
detailed rules of the EEZ regime if the Convention did not enter into force or were
accepted by only a small number of States.
10. Having the sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, con-
serving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non living, the coastal
State determines the allowable catch of the living resources of its EEZ and its capacity
to harvest the living resources of the EEZ. When it does not have the capacity to harvest
the entire allowable catch, it shall give other States access to the surplus of the allowable
catch. It is the duty of coastal States to promote the objective of optimum utilization
of the living resources in the EEZ, ensuring that their maintenance is not endangered
by over-exploitation. To this end, the coastal State has to take proper conservation and
management measures, taking into account the best scientific evidence available to it,
and co-operating, as appropriate, with competent subregional, regional or global inter-
national organizations. Among such measures, the Convention envisages those designated
to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels which can produce the
maximum sustainable yield, as qualified by the relevant environmental and economic
factors. The list of factors mentioned in the Convention is not exhaustive; among them
can be qualified as environmental “the interdependence of stocks and any generally
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 117

recommended international minimum standards, whether subregional, regional or global”


(art. 61, para. 3). The “interdependence” factor has been separately elaborated (art. 61,
para. 4):

“In taking such measures the coastal State shall take into consideration the effects on species
associated with or dependent upon harvested species with a view to maintaining or restoring
populations of such associated or dependent species above levels at which their reproduction
may become seriously threatened”.

All the States concerned, including States whose nationals are allowed to fish in the EEZ
have to contribute and exchange, on a regular basis, data relevant to the conservation
of fish stocks. Such an exchange shall be carried out through competent international
organizations, whether subregional, regional or global.
11. The Convention contains special provisions concerning the so-called “straddling
stocks” (art. 63. para. 1). For the situation “where the same stock or stocks of associated
species occur within the exclusive economic zones, of two or more coastal States”, the
Convention provides for the duty of these States to seek, either directly or through
appropriate subregional or regional organizations, to agree upon the measures necessary
for the conservation and development of such stocks.
Another provision deals with a stock or stocks of associated species occuring both
within the EEZ and in an area beyond and adjacent to the zone. In such a case, the
obligation of the coastal State and the States fishing for such stocks in the adjacent area
is again only to “seek to agree” upon the necessary conservation measures in the adjacent
areas. Canada and Argentina attempted to amend this provision during several sessions
of the Conference, suggesting the permanent or provisional application beyond the EEZ
of the measures applied by the coastal State within the zone, in cases where the States
concerned are not able to reach agreement on common measures. Because of the opposi-
tion of some States having enormous long-distance fishing fleets, even modest changes
in article 63, para. 2 were not possible.
12. The EEZ regime contains special provisions concerning the exploitation and
conservation of particular species: highly migratory species, marine mammals, anadromous
stocks and catadromous species.
As far as the highly migratory species are concerned, the integral regime of the EEZ
is applicable; in addition to that, the coastal and other States whose nationals fish in the
region for the highly migratory species are obliged to co-operate with a view to ensuring
conservation and promoting the objective of optimum utilization of species throughout
the region, both within and beyond the EEZ. The co-operation can be direct or through
appropriate international organizations; if such organizations do not exist for a region,
the States concerned shall co-operate to establish such an organization and participate
in its work (art. 64). Annex I to the Convention contains a list of 17 highly migratory
species. In relation to marine mammals, the Convention underlines the right of a coastal
118 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

State or the competence of an international organization, as appropriate, to prohibit, limit


or regulate their exploitation more strictly than provided for by the general provisions
on the EEZ regime, which means that the coastal States do not have to promote the
objective or their optimum utilization, as in respect of the other living resources of the
EEZ. Art. 65 also provides for the co-operation of States with a view to the conservation
of marine mammals; in the case of cetaceans, co-operation through the appropriate
international organizations for their conservation, management and study is desirable.
The Convention has vested the primary interest in and responsibility for anadromous
stocks in those States in whose rivers anadromous stocks originate. The State of origin
ensures their conservation by the establishment of appropriate regulatory measures for
fishing in all the waters landward of the outer limits of its EEZ. This State may, after
consultations with other States fishing these stocks establish total allowable catches for
stocks originating in its rivers.
In principle, fishing for anadromous stocks is conducted only in those waters landward
of the outer limit of EEZ. Fishing beyond the outer limits of the EEZ may be permitted
in order not to cause economic dislocation to some third States. In such cases, as well
as in cases where anadromous stocks migrate through the waters landward of the outer
limits of the EEZ of a State other than a State of origin, these States shall co-operate
with the State of origin with regard to the conservation and management of such stocks.
The management of catadromous species is the responsibility of the coastal State in whose
waters these species spend the greater part of their life cycle; those States have to ensure
the ingress and egress of migratoring fish. Harvesting of catadromous species shall be
conducted only in waters landward of the outer limits of the EEZ and it is subject to
the relevant provisions of regimes situated landward of that limit (internal waters, terri-
torial sea, EEZ). In cases where catadromous fish migrate through the EEZ of more than
one State, these States shall conclude agreements on their rational management, including
harvesting, taking into account the responsibilities of the State which, according to the
Convention, has the main responsibility for the catadromous species.
13. The sovereign rights of the coastal State over the natural resources of the seabed
and subsoil beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea embrace the living as well as
the non-living resources of the continental shelf, now extended to a preposterous distance
from the coast. The new definition of the continental shelf comprises not only the seabed
of the continental margin, but also submarine areas to a “distance of 200 nautical miles
from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the
outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance” (art. 76, para. 1).
Thus, the sea-bed and the subsoil of the submarine areas to a distance of 200 miles from
the baselines are submitted to both the regime of the EEZ and the regime of the con-
tinental shelf. The dilema caused by such an overlapping of the two regimes is resolved,
at least as concerns the rights of the coastal States, by the provision of art. 56, para. 3,
saying that “the rights set out in this article with respect to the sea-bed and subsoil shall
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 119

be exercised in accordance with Part VI”. As Part VI contains provisions on the con-
tinental shelf, the consequence of art. 56, para. 3 is the non-applicability of all the
provisions on management, exploration, exploitation and conservation of the living
resources of the EEZ, and the exclusive application of the continental shelf regime to
the sea-bed and subsoil up to 200 miles, in relation to the living resources as well. As
far as the content of the continental shelf rules on living resources is concerned, nothing
has been changed in comparison with the 1958 Convention. The sovereign rights for
the purpose of exploring and exploiting living resources relate to the so-called sedentary
species. Although there was much criticism expressed in relation to the 1958 Convention’s
definition (art. 2, para. 4), the same definition was adopted in the new Convention, and,
unfortunately, there is no list of “sedentary species” included in the Convention. Contrary
to the split regime in relation to the exploitation of the non-living resources of the
continental shelf (art. 82), there is no obligation upon the coastal State to make payments
or contributions in kind in respect of the exploitation of the living resources of the
continental shelf beyond 200 miles.
14. The establishment of the EEZ has not only reduced the total surface of the high
seas; several provisions on conservation and management of the living resources adopted
within the EEZ regime are now applicable to the high seas. This is true in relation to
the above mentioned provisions on straddling stocks and the protection of specific species
(art. 63-67). The freedom of fishing for nationals of all States, whether coastal or land-
locked, is limited by the treaty obligations of States outside the Convention and by their
duty established by the Convention “to take, or to co-operate with other States in taking
such measures for their respective nationals as may be necessary for the conservation
of the living resources of the high seas” (art. 117):

“States whose nationals exploit identical living resources, or different living resources in the
same area, shall enter into negotiations with a view to taking the measures necessary for the
conservation of the living resources concerned” (art. 118).

The obligation to determine the allowable catch or any other particular measure has not
been expressly provided for; there is only an indication of factors that have to be taken
into account in determining the allowable catch and establishing other conservation
measures (art. 119). These factors follow the pattern of the factors also established for
the EEZ (art. 61, para. 2-3). Conservation measures and their implementation must not
lead to discrimination against fishermen of any State. There is also an obligation in
relation to international organizations in the field – not an example of clear drafting:
States “shall, as appropriate, co-operate to establish subregional or regional fisheries
organizations” to the end of facilitating cooperation for the conservation of living
resources.
120 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

The provisions of the new Convention will not only supersede the substantive, material
provisions of the 1958 Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources
of the High Seas, as between States parties to the new Convention; furthermore, the new
general system of settlement of disputes will replace the special arbitral procedure
provided for in the 1958 Convention.
15. After decades of differing claims for a special regime for “small”, “closed” or
“internal” seas, the new Convention introduces the concept of “enclosed or semi-enclosed
seas”, based on a vague definition of such seas, which permits that even large seas,
including not only EEZ, but even parts of the high seas be considered as “enclosed or
semi-enclosed seas” (art. 122). There are few provisions on such seas in the Convention,
suggesting that States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas co-operate with each
other in the exercise of their rights and in the performance of their duties under the
Convention (art. 123). One of the fields in which they shall endeavour, directly or through
an appropriate international organization, to co-ordinate their actions is the management,
conservation, exploration and exploitation of the living resources of the sea. They should
also invite, as appropriate, other interested States or international organizations to co-
operate with them in all the envisaged fields (living resources, protection of the marine
environment, scientific research). Although of a hortatory character, the special provisions
on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas are not totally without value because they relate to
all regimes within such seas (not only high seas and EEZ, but also territorial seas and
internal waters). Besides, these provisions follow the already existing international co-
operation in some smaller, regional seas and can be seen as a stimulus for the continuation
and enlargement of such actions.
16. Living resources are not expressly mentioned in the definition of the resources
of the Area, although the living organisms, if any, of the sea bed and ocean floor and
subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are also part of the common
heritage of mankind. As the whole system of exploration and exploitation of the Area
is focussed on mineral resources, or, more precisely polymetallic nodules, the problem
of the conservation of marine life is not specially dealt with in Part XI of the Convention.
Nevertheless, the need to protect marine life from activities in the Area is mentioned
according to the general principle that these activities shall not cause harmful effects
to the marine environment. Namely, the rules, regulations and procedures that the Author-
ity has to adopt in the field of the protection of the marine environment have to prevent
“interference with the ecological balance of the marine environment” and they shall be
adopted also for “the protection and conservation of the natural resources of the Area
and the prevention of damage to the flora and fauna of the marine environment” (art.
145). Finally, among the principles of the policies relating to activities in the Area, it
is stressed that these activities have to be conducted “in accordance with sound principles
of conservation and the avoidance of necessary waste”.
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 121

On the basis of the provisions of Parts XI and XII, we have to conclude that the
main concern of the Convention’s drafters was the conservation or, more precisely, the
sound management of mineral resources, and when they mentioned living organisms,
they had in mind the living resources of the high seas rather than those possibly existing
in the Area itself.
17. One of the main new characteristics of the Law of the Sea Convention, if com-
pared with the 1958 codification, is the inclusion in the Convention itself of a system
for the settlement of disputes entailing binding decisions. Without the possibility of
engaging in a thorough analysis of this complicated system of disputes settlement, let
us take a look at the solutions adopted in relation to the management and especially
conservation of the living resources (art. 297, para. 3). The first basic principle is that
disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the provisions of the Convention
with regard to fisheries have to be settled by employing one of the compulsory procedures
entailing binding decisions. There is one exception to this principle; the coastal State
is “not obliged to accept the submission to such settlement of any dispute relating to
its sovereign rights with respect to the living resources in the exclusive economic zone
or their exercise, including its discretionary powers for determining the allowable catch,
its harvesting capacity, the allocation of surpluses to other States and the terms and
conditions established in its conservation and management laws and regulations” (art.
297, para. 3a). However, if no settlement has been reached by recourse to “diplomatic
means” of disputes settlement, there are three categories of disputes in which any party
to the dispute may submit the case to conciliation. One of them is disputes when it is
alleged that (i) “a coastal State has manifestly failed to comply with its obligations to
ensure through proper conservation and management measures that maintenance of the
living resources in the exclusive economic zone is not seriously endangered” (art. 297,
para. 3 b, i). Although conciliation in that case is obligatory for all the parties to the
Convention, it does not entail a binding decision but only “proposals to the parties with
a view to reaching an amicable settlement” (art. 6, Annex V). However, parties to the
Convention wishing to submit their dispute relating to questions excluded from the
compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions, are free to do so by submitting jointly
their dispute to one of the following: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
the International Court of Justice, an arbitral tribunal or a special arbitral tribunal. The
last offers parties a special arbitral procedure for four categories of disputes, two of them
being disputes relating to: (a) fisheries, and (b) protection and preservation of the marine
environment. Members of the special arbitral tribunal should preferably be chosen from
the special lists of experts established for this purpose by the specialized UN bodies.
Thus, the list of experts in the field of fisheries shall be drawn up and maintained by
FAO, and in the field of protection and preservation of the marine environment by UNEP.
It goes without saying that any award of the special arbitral tribunal has to be complied
with by all the parties to the dispute (art. 4, Annex VIII; art. 11, Annex VII).
122 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

18. During the work of UNCLOS III, the draft provisions on management exploration,
exploitation and conservation of the living resources of the sea were subject to bitter
criticism; many suggestions for amendments to these provisions were given. All these
comments were based on the sincere wish to establish the most efficient provisions for
the conservation of the marine life, and many of them highlighted the real shortages of
the Draft Convention. They gave real impetus to the work of UNCLOS. Now, when
all the efforts in drafting the Convention are over and we are faced with the final result
of 15 years’ revision of the law of the sea, we have to evaluate calmly the changes and
innovations inserted in that part of international law. Although we might have expected
more, it is my sincere conviction that the results achieved in the field discussed in this
short survey are not disappointing in view of the realities with which the Conference
was faced. Let us look at some of the criticisms to UNCLOS III and the characteristics
of its solutions.
One of the main trends in the recent development of the law of the sea is the ex-
tension of the sovereignty and jurisdiction of coastal States over marine areas adjacent
to their coasts. In view of the anarchy raging in the exploitation of the high seas, such
a development cannot be deplored if we are at all concerned with the protection of the
living resources of the sea. Namely, in principle, coastal States will take more care of
living resources they can consider their own than will the fishery fleets of distant marine
powers. All those who are suspicious of the wish and ability of coastal States to take
care to the stocks under their sovereignty or jurisdiction should also be satisfied with
the basic compromise reached at UNCLOS: Instead of a 200 miles territorial sea, which
was the desire of many coastal States, the EEZ has been established. Thus, instead of
the submission of almost all fish stocks to the sovereignty of the coastal State, a special
regime has been adopted, in which the behaviour of the coastal States in respect to the
living resources has been regulated by an abundance of international provisions.
Although it is true that some of their provisions are of a hortatory character, this
is not a particular characteristic of that part of the Convention’s rules. This over-all
Convention on the Law of the Sea could not have definitely and precisely regulated all
States’ marine activities; for different reasons, UNCLOS had to leave to future special
agreements and conventions, as well as to national legislation, the detailed regulation
of many fields and relations. Some critics are dissatisfied with the absence of integral
regulation of the regime for particular species in the entirety of the marine space. Such
criticism is not really deserved. It disregards the basic reality of the present international
community: the wish of coastal States to extend their power ratione territorii and ratione
materiae as far as possible. In the light of such a reality, the Convention’s solutions in
regard to some specially protected species (marine mammals, anadromous stocks), could
be considered as the first encouraging examples of a comprehensive treatment of living
resources. Besides the way in which some species have been treated, the very fact that
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 123

several specific species have been accorded special regulations on a global level is also
a sign of a promising trend in the development of the law of the sea.
19. The lack of definitions or lists of species and the use of obsolete notions or
unclear standards have also been mentioned. In respect of such reproaches, some remarks
should be made. First, the voice of science and scientists in conferences such as UNCLOS
is, unfortunately, heard only incidentally, sporadically and mainly indirectly through the
UN Secretariat or through States’ delegations. Specialized institutions (governmental
as well as NGO’s) rarely appear in the main bodies, never in direct negotiations, too
often only offering their services and competing among themselves in such offers. Second,
various authors, institutions and organizations offer jurists different and vague solutions
for inclusion in legal texts. It is very difficult for diplomats, their States’ representatives,
to elaborate definitions if there exists no clear-cut answers in the science itself. For
example, the notion and definition of “sedentary species” is not an invention of jurists,
and it is now much critized. New unfortunate “help” offered by science to the establish-
ment of legal institutions is the present formula for the definition of the continental shelf.
Suggested by Irish geologists, defended by the majority of broad-margin States, it is
bitterly attacked as scientifically unsound by Japanese, Soviet and other scientists. Third,
one should not reproach UNCLOS for the absence of solutions to questions beyond its
competence. For example, as UNCLOS was not to deal with land territory, one should
not have expected the acceptance of notions such as “coastal zone management”, as this
notion, besides the territorial sea and internal waters, includes coastal land areas.
Anyhow, the better co-operation of scientists, jurists and diplomats should be provided
for in the implementation of the Convention, as well as in the further development of
the law of the sea through subsequent international agreements and national legislation.
To this end, co-operation among specialized agencies should be improved. They have
been entrusted with many duties in respect to the co-operation of States parties to the
new Convention in the implementation of its provisions. As we have seen, only FAO
and UNEP have been mentioned explicitly but it is clear that the help of IOC, and others
is also required.
20. It is difficult to be completely satisfied with the application of compulsory dispute
settlement procedures entailing binding decisions only in conservation and management
disputes relating to the high seas, although one could argue that even obligatory con-
ciliation in respect of such disputes with respect to the EEZ is a success in view of the
general opposition of many States to any obligatory means of the settlement of disputes.
We do not share that view, but we do consider that the mere fact that a dispute settlement
system is part of the Convention itself is an encouraging event, mainly caused by the
generally recognized necessity of having such a system for the solution of disputes
generated in the exploration and exploitation of the Area.
21. Finally, we have to ask ourselves what will be the future of all these provisions
which, for the moment, are part of an adopted Convention, signed by 155 States, but
124 8 – PROTECTION OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE SEA

not yet entered into force. Today, more than six years after the signature of the Conven-
tion by the first 119 delegations at Montego Bay, it has been ratified by 40 of them (April
1989). 20 additional acts of ratification or accession are necessary for its entry into force.
Although the process of ratification is rather slow, it is difficult to envisage major
obstacles to its entry into force in the forthcoming years. All of the provisions discussed
above will then become applicable conventional law for States parties. However, even
today, with the exception of the provisions on the settlement of disputes, it could be
claimed that UNCLOS III solutions also in respect to the protection of the living resources
have become part of general customary international law.
Chapter 9

COMMON HERITAGE OF MANKIND: A LEGAL CONCEPT FOR THE


SURVIVAL OF HUMANITY*

1. Present international relations are characterized by two divergent trends: the persistent
sensibility of States concerning their sovereignty, and the growing necessity of inter-
national co-operation and unity in coping with the major international problems (food
shortages, nuclear threat, international economic relations, energy problems, protection
of the environment, etc.). These two opposite tendencies also determine the development
of the international law of our time: rules protecting and strengthening the interests and
rights of individual States are being adopted simultaneously with new principles in which
individual States rights are reconciled in the interest of all States. Thus, in the Declaration
on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among
States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (UN General Assembly
Resolution 2625 /XXV/ of 24 October 1970), besides traditional principles such as the
sovereign equality of States or non-intervention in internal affairs, the duty of States to
co-operate with one another in accordance with the Charter has been proclaimed.
The interests of States are, moreover, sometimes replaced by the common interest
of humanity. Thus, the constitution of UNESCO (Paris, 16 November 1945) speaks about
“the world’s inheritance” in the field of culture (Art. I, para. 2/c/) and States Parties to
the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
(The Hague, 14 May 1954) expressed their conviction “that damage to cultural property
belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind,
since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world”. (Preambe, second
operative paragraph).
2. The idea of the joint interest of the whole international community has had the
most direct and strongest impact on the international regulation of some spaces beyond
the limits of national jurisdiction. So, already, in the Antarctic Treaty (Washington, 1
December 1959) the “interest of all mankind” was pointed to as the reason both for the
use of Antarctica only for peaceful purposes and for avoiding it becoming the scene or
object of international disaccord (second preambular paragraph). Although the existing

* First published in The Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States – Ten Years of Implementation,
The Proceedings of the First Yugoslav International Seminar on Legal Aspects of the New International
Economic Order, Belgrade, April 11-13, 1985, Belgrade, 1986.
126 9 – COMMON HERITAGE OF MANKIND

claims to territorial sovereignty were not abolished, no new claims were to be asserted
(Art. IV).
3. The extension of States sovereignty to outer space was rejected at the very begin-
ning of man’s activities beyond the air space. The first legal principles established for
the exploration of outer space resembled the régime of the high seas: they were based
on the res communis omnium concept. However, ever since the first Resolution adopted
in the UN General Assembly concerning the outer space (Resolution 1348 /XIII/ of 13
December 1958), terms like “the common interest of mankind in outer space” and
“exploration and exploitation of outer space for the benefit of mankind” have been
employed. Simultaneously with the establishment of principles which permit equal, but
independent, individual activities of States, mankind as a whole has been recognized
as the ultimate beneficiary of the exploration and use of outer space. This parallelism
is obvious also in regard to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States
in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial
Bodies (London, Moscow and Washington, 27 January 1967). Although this Treaty
recognizes the freedom of States to explore and use outer space and celestial bodies,
as well as the freedom of scientific investigation (coupled with the prohibition of national
appropriation of outer space and celestial bodies), paragraph 1 of Article I determines
the purpose and the limits of these freedoms:

“The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall
be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree
of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind”.

4. Nevertheless, within the framework of the 1967 Treaty on Principles, the designation
of outer space as “the province of all mankind” had no real impact on the established
conventional regime: it was based on the res communis omnium concept. The idea of
humankind as a whole being the beneficiary of the exploration and exploitation of the
spaces beyond the limits of national jurisdiction had a more immediate effect on the
establishment of the legal régime of the sea-bed and its subsoil.
The initiative of Malta came in the year of the adoption of the Treaty on Outer-Space
Principles; the suggestion concerning the sea-bed and its resources as the common heritage
of mankind (CHM) was adopted in the Declaration of Principles Governing the Sea-Bed
and the Ocean Floor, and the Subsoil Thereof beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction
(UN General Assembly Resolution 2749 (XXV) of 17 December 1970). The common
heritage approach, defined in the 1970 Declaration, was opposed to the existing legal
régime of the high seas (res communis omnium), for which it was stated that it “does
not provide substantive rules for regulating the exploration of the aforesaid area and the
exploitation of its resources” (third preambular paragraph). For the purpose of establishing
for the Area and its resources an international régime on the basis of the 1970 Declaration,
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 127

the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea was convened in 1973. The new Law
of the Sea Convention (Montego Bay, 10 December 1982), according to its Preamble,
“develops the principles” embodied in the 1970 Declaration (sixth paragraph); it also
contains an elaborated régime governing exploration and exploitation of the Area. It
repeats that “the Area and its resources are the common heritage of mankind” (Art. 136)
and the legal status of the Area and its resources is defined (Art. 137).
5. In the meantime, several treaties relating to specific outer space problems have
been concluded, the last among them being the Agreement Governing the Activities of
States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (New York, 18 December 1979). In this
agreement the CHM principle, to the establishment of which the law of outer space has
greatly contributed, has been adopted for outer space itself.
As concerns the exploration and use of celestial bodies, the definition of the 1967
Treaty has been preserved: they shall be “the province of all mankind” (Art. 4, para.
1 of the Moon Agreement). The right of all States to explore and use the celestial bodies
has also been confirmed (Art. 4 and 11). However, there are more rules now on the basis
of which the concept of “the province of all mankind” shall be implemented (Art. 4).
6. The main innovation of the Moon Agreement is the proclamation of the moon
and other celestial bodies as “the common heritage of mankind” (Art. 11, para. 1).
Moreover, States Parties to the Agreement have undertaken the obligation “to establish
an international régime, including appropriate procedures, to govern the exploitation of
the natural resources of the moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible.” (Art.
11, para. 5). The main purposes of the future régime have also been given: the orderly
and safe development of the natural resources of the celestial bodies; their national
management and expansion of opportunities in their use; an equitable sharing by all States
Parties of the benefits derived from those resources (Art. 11, para. 7). The establishment
of the international régime will be considered at a review conference to be convened
after the Agreement has been in force for five years (Art. 18).
Summing up the provisions of the Moon Agreement, it has to be stressed that not
all the activities in relation to the celestial bodies, proclaimed the CHM, are subject to
the same regime. Their exploration and use (which does not affect the natural resources),
notwithstanding their denomination as “the province of all mankind”, can be carried out
by individual States. However, an international régime, based on the concept of the CHM
and in accordance with the purposes stated in the Agreement, has to be established for
the exploitation of the natural resources of the celestial bodies. States are not entitled
to undertake individual activities of exploitation prior to the establishment of an inter-
national regime, even if exploitation becomes feasible.
7. In relation to the CHM two main problems have always existed: its legal status
and its content. Today, almost twenty years after the commencement of the use of that
term, it is obvious that both questions have to be answered in a different manner in regard
to various fields of international law. As concerns the law of the sea, the elements
128 9 – COMMON HERITAGE OF MANKIND

constituting the concept of the CHM in this field were already stated in the 1970 Declara-
tion of Principles and developed in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. The whole
evolution of the law of the sea since the 1967 initiative of Malta leaves no doubt con-
cerning the legal nature (customary as well as conventional) of the CHM principle in
that branch of international law; the same is true for other principles contained in the
1970 Declaration and in Part XI, Section 2 (Principles Governing the Area) of the Law
of the Sea Convention.
The evolution of the CHM approach has not reached the same level in other fields
of international law for which the adoption of that concept is envisaged: the regime of
Antarctica, the frequency and orbit spectrum, protection of the environment, preservation
of the cultural heritage, etc. In relation to outer space the conventional scope and the
constituent elements of the CHM principle have been delineated above. The further
development of that principle in the law of outer space will depend upon many political,
technological, economic and legal circumstances, which will influence the process of
ratification of the Moon Agreement and its impact on customary international law.
8. On the basis of the acceptance and application of the CHM in particular fields
of international law (law of the sea, law of outer space, etc.), it is possible to detect some
common elements of that principle for broader areas of international law (for example
regimes of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, protection of the environment).
Finally, taking together all the already achieved results in the implementation of the CHM
concept, the existing trends in some new fields and the suggestions in others, it is
possible, de lege ferenda rather than de lege lata, to deduce some general elements of
the CHM principle relevant to each field in which this principle is applied:
– it has to be applied to such areas, resources and values the rational management and/
or protection of which is essential to mankind as a whole;
– the exploration, management, protection, preservation, use and exploitation of such
areas, resources and values shall be based on internationally agreed régimes;
– international machineries (organizations) shall be established for the implementation
of the agreed régimes;
– all rights in such areas, and in releation to such resources and values, shall be vested
in mankind as a whole (present and future generations of all peoples of the world,
whether organized as States or not); States and appropriate international organizations
shall act on behalf of mankind;
– all countries and peoples shall equitably share the benefits derived from the CHM;
the interests and needs of developing countries and, in some cases, other States (land-
locked States, countries which have contributed to the exploration of an area, etc.)
shall be given special consideration;
– areas, resources and values which are the CHM shall be preserved exclusively for
peaceful purposes.
V – NATURAL RESOURCES OF THE SEA 129

The CHM principle was, on its appearance, judged a slogan void of any legal significance,
notwithstanding the existence of some similar solutions in municipal laws (res publica
trust, social property, etc.). Nevertheless, it has been favoured by the great majority of
States as the only legal concept appropriate for the solution of problems unsolvable on
the basis of traditional concepts and principles. The protection of the human environment,
the prevention of drastic weather changes, the management of new sources of energy,
the protection of the cultural heritage, the administration of areas beyond the limits of
national jurisdiction, and the establishment of the New International Economic Order
are some of the tasks whose achievement could be aided considerably by the application
of the CHM principle. It is one of the modest contributions international law can offer
to humanity in its struggle to survive.

Bibliographical note

J. Andrassy, “Pravna narav morskog dna i podzemlja otvorenog mora kao “baštine čovječanstva”,
Jugoslovenska revija za medunarodno pravo, Vol. 22, Nos. 1-2, 1975, pp. 128-137.

C.Q. Christol, “The Common Heritage of Mankind Provisions in the 1979 Agreement Governing
the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies”, International Lawyer, Vol. 14,
No. 3, 1980, pp. 429-483.

D. Goedhuis, “The Conflicts in the Interpretation of the Leading Principles of the Moon Treaty of
1979”, The International Law Association, Report of the Sixtieth Conference, Montreal 1982, pp.
479-509.

A.-C. Kiss, “La notion do patrimoine commun de l’humanite”, Recueil des cours de l’Académie
de droit international, Vol. 175 (1982-11), pp. 99-256.

S. Novaković, “Zajednička baština čovečanstva u pravu mora”, Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje


prava i medunarodno pravo, Vol. 15, No. 17, 1982, pp. 170-231.

M. Škrk, Pravna narava skupne dediščine človeštva v pomorskem mednarodnem pravu, thesis,
Ljubljana, 1984.

B. Vukas, “Zajednička baština čovječanstva”, Institut za medunarodnu politiku i privredu, Godišnjak,


1981/82, pp. 190-211.
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VI – NAVIGATION
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Chapter 10

THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION: A VIEW FROM


THE MEDITERRANEAN*

1. INTRODUCTION

1. The Mediterranean coastal States, as the coastal States in many other seas, have
established regional and sub-regional rules concerning exploration, management, protection
and use of the sea they border. The delimitation of maritime areas, fisheries, exploration
and exploitation of natural resources of the sea-bed, protection and preservation of the
marine environment are subjects dealt with by many bilateral and multilateral agreements
concluded between Mediterranean coastal States. However, besides this intensive regional
and subregional legislation, the importance of the general international law of the sea
has never diminished in respect of the Mediterranean Sea. At the time of its revision,
undertaken at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1973-1982),
the Contracting Parties to the 1976 Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the
Mediterranean Sea against Pollution expressed their position on the relation of regional
and general law of the sea:

“Nothing in this Convention shall prejudice the codification and development of the law of
the sea by the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea convened pursuant to resolution
2750 C(XXV) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, nor the present or future claims
and legal views of any State concerning the law of the sea and the nature and extend of coastal
and flag State jurisdiction” (Art. 3, para. 2).

2. Without getting into the bothersome question of individualising peremptory rules within
the international legal order of the seas, it is obvious that some issues can adequately
be resolved only by norms applicable to all seas and oceans. For example, principles
determining the jurisdiction of the coastal State over maritime areas or the relation of
the flag State and its ship have to be applied on global basis. International navigation
is one of the subjects where regional and local rules should play only secondary role.
General international rules are to be applied in all seas; particular solutions not en-

* First printed in The Law of the Sea with emphasis on Mediterranean Issues, Thesaurus Acroasium
of the Institute of Public International Law and International Relations of Thessaloniki, Volume XVII,
Thessaloniki 1991.
134 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

dangering international navigation may be agreed upon for the purpose of protecting the
safety of navigation, preventing the pollution of the sea or securing the interests of the
coastal States. Laws and regulations of coastal States may be adopted only within the
limits permitted by international rules.
3. At the already mentioned Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the
Sea (UNCLOS III) many innovations have been adopted; they are inserted in the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention), opened for signature at
Montego Bay (Jamaica), on 10 December 1982.1 The achievements in the Convention
have been qualified as “codification and progressive development of the law of the sea”
(seventh preambular paragraph) and they range from slight precisions in the previously
existing law to the establishment of completely new régimes at sea. However, due to
the geographical characteristics of the Mediterranean, not all the general law of the sea
is to be applied to this sea.2 For example, in the Mediterranean there are no “archipelagic
States” in the sense of Article 46(a) of the LOS Convention, and as consequence no
archipelagic waters under the sovereignty of coastal Mediterranean States. Furthermore,
due to the size of the Mediterranean and the new definition of the continental shelf (Art.
76), the existence of the Area in the Mediterranean is not envisaged.
4. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the solutions adopted at UNCLOS III for
the international navigation from the Mediterranean perspective. Therefore, the basis of
our analysis bas to be the LOS Convention. However, as this Convention has not yet
entered into force, the applicability of some of its rules is in question.3 Some of the
innovations at UNCLOS III are so widely adopted by States legislations and practice
that their applicability does not depend upon the entry into force of the LOS Convention
(e.g. the extension of the territorial sea to 12 nautical miles, the establishment of the
exclusive economic zone). On the contrary, it is difficult to qualify as general law some
of the solutions adopted at UNCLOS III after protracted negotiations, even before the
expression of consent to be bound by the Convention by the minimum number of States
required for its entry into force (e.g. the extension, of the contiguous zone to 24 miles).
Apart from the attitude of States in respect of the Convention adopted during the
negotiations, at the moment of its adoption, signature or ratification, recently adopted
respective laws and regulations in these countries indicate their position concerning the

1 UN Document A/CONF. 62/122 of 7 October 1982.


2 For the purposes of these lectures the Mediterranean Sea is considered to include also the Black Sea. Such
a broad definition of the Mediterranean, for political reasons not used very often, is based on the genuine
geographical concept of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the Yugoslav Encyclopaedia of Maritime Affairs
defines the Black Sea as “the easternmost part of the Mediterranean”; Pomorska enciklopedija Vol. II, 2nd
ed., Zagreb 1975, p. 55.
3 See: B. Vukas, The Impact of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea on Customary
Law, in: The New Law of the Sea, ed. by Ch. L. Rozakis and C.A. Stephanou, Amsterdam – New York
– Oxford 1983, pp. 33-54.
VI – NAVIGATION 135

new law of the sea. Moreover, some declarations and statements made in accordance
with Article 310 of the Convention and objections concerning them registered with the
Secretary-General demonstrate clearly that not all the signatory States have identical
positions concerning the Convention’s rules on navigation.
The differences in views between Mediterranean coastal States in respect of navigation
are based on their geographical location, the strength of their merchant and military fleets
and their relations to their neighbours.

2. INNOCENT PASSAGE IN THE TERRITORIAL SEA

5. The provisions on the right of innocent passage in the LOS Convention contain many
precisions and innovations in comparison with the hitherto existing rules of customary
international law and the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous
Zone. In respect to the meaning of passage, besides the traditionally recognized purposes
(traversing the territorial sea, entering internal waters or making for the high seas from
internal waters), the right of innocent passage has been recognized for the purpose of
calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal waters (Art. 18, para. 1 of the LOS
Convention). It has been emphasized that the passage has to be continuous and expedi-
tious; “rendering assistance to persons, ships or aircraft in danger or distress” has been
added to the reasons previously permitting stopping and anchoring (navigation require-
ments, force majeure, distress – Art. 18, para. 2).
In accordance with customary law, both the 1958 Geneva Convention (Art. 14, para.
4) and the LOS Convention (Art. 19, para. 1), provide that “passage is innocent so long
as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State”. The LOS
Convention adds to this general rule a long list of activities which are prohibited to
foreign ships in innocent passage. Moreover, this Convention also prohibits any other
activity (not explicitly mentioned in the list) “not having a direct bearing on passage”.
Engagement in any of these activities is “considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good
order or security of the coastal State” (Art. 19, para. 2).
The rules on the right of coastal States to adopt laws and regulations relating to
innocent passage have also been considerably elaborated (Art. 21). Whereas the 1958
Geneva Convention mentioned only laws and regulations adopted in order to prevent
foreign fishing vessels from fishing and those concerning transport and navigation (Art.
14, para. 5; Art. 17), the LOS Convention explicitly permits States to adopt laws and
regulations in respect of various matters (Art. 21). The increased density of maritime
traffic, particularly that of tankers, nuclear-powered ships and ships carrying nuclear or
other inherently dangerous or noxious substances or materials, has caused the adoption
of specific provisions concerning ships’ routeing. The coastal State may require of foreign
ships exercising the right of innocent passage through its territorial sea to use sea lanes
136 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

and traffic separation schemes it had designated or prescribed bearing in mind the safety
of navigation (Art. 22).
Within the obligation of the coastal State not to hamper the innocent passage of
foreign ships through the territorial sea, the LOS Convention lists examples of behaviour
to be avoided: a) the imposition of requirements on foreign ships which have the practical
effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage; b) the discrimination against
the ships of any State (Art. 24, para. 1).
6. More provisions than in 1958 have been adopted at UNCLOS III concerning the
innocent passage of warships and other government ships operated for non-commercial
purposes. Apart from repeating the provisions concerning the right of the coastal State
to require any foreign warship to leave immediately the territorial sea if it disregards
any request for compliance with the laws and regulations of the coastal State (Art. 30),
the new Convention provides for the international responsibility of the flag State for
damage caused by a warship or other government ship operated for non-commercial
purposes (Art. 31). However, such ships enjoy immunities (with the exceptions provided
for in this Convention – Art. 32).
Unfortunately, UNCLOS III was also not able to give a clear-cut answer to the
question of the right of the coastal State to condition the innocent passage of foreign
warships by a prior authorization or notification. This is the result of the confrontation
of two groups of States of almost equal strength. The first, composed of the coastal States
not possessing powerful navies and anxious to protect their security, many of them non-
aligned countries, favoured a provision permitting coastal States to require prior authoriza-
tion or notification for the passage of foreign warships. The second group was composed
of maritime powers and the majority of their allies; it defended the right of warships
to unconditional innocent passage. Due to their different characteristics and attitudes the
Mediterranean coastal States belonged to one or the other of the two groups.
On the basis of these different approaches to the problem of innocent passage of
warships, disputing suggestions were made in the Sea-Bed Committee and at UNCLOS
III. One of them was put forward by a group of States the majority of which were
Mediterranean: Cyprus, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, Spain and
Yemen proposed that coastal States should be given the right to require prior notification
of the passage of a warship or even to condition the passage of a warship or even to
condition the passage by prior authorization.4 However, the other group prevailed and
the first informal draft of the future LOS Convention – the Informal Single Negotiating
Text (ISNT) – contained a provision explicitly saying that warships also enjoy the right
of innocent passage.5 As the opposition of States against unconditional right of foreign
war ships to innocent passage was not ceasing, the Chairman of the Second Committee

4 Art. 21 of UN Document A/AC. 138/SC. II/L.18.


5 Art. 29, para. 2 of A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/Part II of 7 May 1975.
VI – NAVIGATION 137

left out from the next draft-the Revised Single Negotiating Text (RSNT) – the provision
on the application of the right of innocent passage to warships.6 However, this omission
has not changed the draft’s solution in respect of the passage of warships. Although the
draft does not mention the right of warships to innocent passage, as the warships are
not explicitly excluded from the right, contained among the rules “applicable to all
ships”,7 it is implicit that they are included within the categories of ships that enjoy the
right of innocent passage. The situation is basically the same as in 1958 Convention on
the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone apart from an additional confirmation of
the intention on the part of the drafters of the new Convention to grant innocent passage
also to warships. Namely, among the listed activities forbidden to ships in passage there
are some activities in which only warships can be engaged: threat or use of force; exercise
or practice with weapons; launching, landing or taking on board aircraft or military
devices (Art. 19, para. 2).
Coastal States repeatedly tried to amend the Convention’s draft in respect of the
passage of warships. Between 1978 and 1982 they submitted several amendments sug-
gesting the recognition of the right of coastal States to require prior notification or
authorization for the passage of warships.8 Faced with the firm resistance of maritime
powers, the coastal States eventually asked only for the inclusion of “security” among
the matters in respect of which the coastal State may adopt laws and regulations under
Article 21, paragraph 1(h) of the Convention.9 Among 28 sponsors of this last effort
of coastal States seven were Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Malta,
Morocco, Romania and Syria. However, responding to the President’s appeal the group
did not press their amendment to a vote under the condition that the President reads out
the following statement to the plenary of the Conference:

“Although the sponsors of the amendment in document A/CONF. 62/L.117 had proposed the
amendment with a view to clarifying the text of the draft convention, in response to the Presi-
dent’s appeal they have agreed not to press it to a vote. They would however, like to reaffirm
that their decision is without prejudice to the rights of coastal States to adopt measures to
safeguard their security interests, in accordance with articles 19 and 25 of the draft conven-
tion”.10

7. Although the reading out of this statement by the President, T.T.B. Koh, avoided
voting, the problem of the passage of warships was thus not resolved. On the contrary,

6 Art. 28 of A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/Rev. 1/Part II of 6 May 1976.


7 Subsection A “Rules applicable to all ships” in Section 3 “Innocent passage in the territorial sea”.
8 Suggestions: C.2/Informal Meeting/30 of 4 May 1978; C.2/Informal Meeting/58 of 20 March 1980; C.2/
Informal Meeting/58/Rev. 1 of 19 March 1982; A/CONF. 62/L.97 of 13 April 1982.
9 A/CONF. 62/L.117 of 13 April 1982.
10 See: UNCLOS III, Official Records, Vol. XVI, p. 132 (para. 1).
138 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

the President’s statement became source of new disagreements based on different inter-
pretations. Thus, for example, the written statement made by the United States on
completion of the Conference claims that the President’s statement “clearly placed coastal
States security interests within the context of articles 19 and 25” of the LOS Convention
which do not permit the imposition of notification or authorization requirements.11
On the other hand, declarations and statements made in accordance with Article 310
of the Convention by some of the sponsors of the amendment preceding the President’s
statement make it clear that they do not share interpretations which favour unconditional
passage of warships. Some of them (Cape Verde, Romania, Sudan, Sao Tome and
Principe) stress the right of the coastal State to adopt laws and regulations aimed at
safeguarding its security; Cape Verde, Romania and Sudan base this claim explicitly
on the President’s statement.12 Taking into account the attitude of these States at
UNCLOS III and legislations of some of them, it is difficult to believe that these declara-
tions have in view any other purpose than to justify the conditioning of the passage of
warships by a previous notification or authorization.13 Iran, on the contrary, stated
explicitly that the coastal State has the right to require “prior authorization for warships
willing to exercise the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea”,14 Yemen
requires that “nuclear-powered craft, as well as warships and warplanes in general” obtain
“prior agreement of the Yemen Arab Republic before passing through its territorial
waters...”.15
Egypt requires prior notification for innocent passage through its territorial sea.16
Another Mediterranean State, Yugoslavia, upon its ratification of the LOS Convention
made the following declaration:

“... Yugoslavia considers that a coastal State may, by its laws and regulations, subject the passage
of foreign warships to the requirement of previous notification to the respective coastal State
and limit the number of ships simultaneously passing, on the basis of the international customary
law and in compliance with the right of innocent passage (articles 17-32 of the Convention)”.17

11 A/CONF. 62/WS/37 and Add. 1 and 2. See also: W.E. Butler, Innocent Passage and the 1982 Convention:
The Influence of Soviet Law and Policy, 81 American Journal of International Law 335 (1987).
12 Law of the Sea Bulletin (LSB), Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Law
of the Sea, No. 5, July 1985, pp. 39-40.
13 Thus e.g. Sudan’s legislation requires prior authorization; see: D. Rudolf, Medunarodno pravo mora, Zagreb
1985, p. 99.
14 LSB, No. 5, p. 39.
15 Ibid., p. 40.
16 LSB, Special Issue I, p. 3.
17 Ibid., p. 8.
VI – NAVIGATION 139

For the time being, the Law on the Coastal Sea and the Continental Shelf of Yugoslavia
(1965) does not require prior notification; it only limits to three the number of ships flying
the same flag and simultaneously passing through the Yugoslav territorial sea.18
The declarations of Finland and Sweden are rather vague; according to them the two
States will “continue to apply the present régime for the passage of foreign warships
and other government-owned vessels used for non-commercial purposes ...”.19 “The
present régime”, which in their view is “fully compatible with the Convention”, seems
to be the régime of prior notification.20
There is only one statement under Art. 310 – the one made by Italy – aimed at
equalizing all categories of ships in respect of innocent passage:

“None of the provisions of the Convention, which corresponds on this matter to customary
international law, can be regarded as this matter to customary international law, can be regarded
as entitling the coastal State to make innocent passage of particular categories of foreign ships
dependent on prior consent or notification”.21

However, besides Italy, FR of Germany, France, United Kingdom and the United States
replied to the views expressed by some delegations at the final part of the eleventh session
at Montego Bay, in which directly or indirectly the right of coastal States to require prior
notification or authorization was mentioned. In their written statements these Western
States claimed such conditions concerning warships to be contrary to the LOS Convention
and to customary law.22
8. Contrary to the declarations in accordance with Art. 310, which are an indication
of the resistance of coastal States to the equal treatment of warships with all other
categories of ships concerning innocent passage, the laws and regulations of States adopted
after the LOS Convention was opened for signature, mainly confirm this right of warships.
The recent laws and regulations of Vanuatu,23 France,24 Equatorial Guinea,25
Mexico26 and Senegal27 grant the right of innocent passage to all ships; thus, this right
is also applied to warships. Only from the Royal Decree of Oman it may be concluded
that this State has a general negative attitude in respect to innocent passage through its

18 Službeni list SFRJ, No. 22 (1965).


19 LSB, No. 5, pp. 39 and 40.
20 See: D. Vignes, Les déclarations faites par les Etats signataires de la Convention sur le Droit de la Mer
sur la base de l’article 310 de cette Convention, 29 Annuaire Français de Droit International 724(1983).
21 LSB, No. 5, p. 39.
22 A/CONF. 62/WS/37 and Add. 1 and 2.
23 LSB, No. 1, September 1983, p. 67.
24 LSB, No. 6, October 1985, p. 14.
25 Ibid., p. 19.
26 LSB, No. 7, April 1986, p. 59.
27 Ibid., p. 72.
140 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

territorial sea. Namely, emphasizing its sovereignty over the territorial sea, the Royal
Decree explicitly confirms only “the principle of innocent passage of ships and planes
of other States through international straits.”28
At the time of the conclusion of the 1958 Geneva Conventions the Soviet Union
had negative attitude and, national legislation concerning the unconditioned passage of
foreign warships through its territorial sea. Therefore, upon ratification of the Convention
on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone the USSR stated that “the coastal State
has the right to establish procedures for the authorization of the passage of foreign
warships through its territorial waters”.29 Since that time the Soviet Union has consider-
ably developed its navy which, due to the geographical location of the USSR, more than
the navies of other maritime powers, depends upon the passage through the waters
belonging to other States. As a consequence thereof at UNCLOS III the Soviet Union
defended the right of warships to innocent passage and after the adoption of the LOS
Convention changed its legislation. However, even under the new Soviet legislation (1982-
1983), the right of foreign warships to innocent passage is considerably restricted: for
navigation through the territorial sea for the purpose of entering or leaving internal waters,
or for calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal waters, foreign warships need
a prior authorization from the Soviet authorities.30 Navigation through the territorial
sea for the sole purpose of traversing that sea is also limited: warships have to confine
their passage to traffic separation systems enumerated for warships in the 1983 Soviet
Rules on innocent passage (Art. 12).31
The other superpower – the United States – has a more liberal position concerning
the innocent passage of warships. In a communication transmitted to all members of the
United Nations in 1985, protesting against various measures and limitations of navigation
proclaimed by Libya, the United States claim that all categories of vessels enjoy the right
of innocent passage and that the coastal State may not condition that right upon prior
notification.32
9. As demonstrated above, the text of the LOS Convention and the negotiating history
of the provisions on innocent passage should be interpreted as not distinguishing warships
from other categories of ships in respect of their right to innocent passage. Therefore,
once the Convention enters into force, prior authorization should not be required by a
Party to the Convention in respect of a warship flying the flag of any other State Party
to the LOS Convention.

28 LSB, No. 1, p. 33.


29 Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, Status as at 31 December 1985, ST/LEG/SER.E/4,
p. 679.
30 LSB, No. 4, September 1985, p. 28; Butler, op. cit., p. 339.
31 Butler, op. cit., p. 343.
32 LSB, No. 6, p. 40.
VI – NAVIGATION 141

The requirement of prior notification, the limitation of the number of ships simul-
taneously passing through the territorial sea or other similar precautions taken by coastal
States do not hamper innocent passage of warships and, therefore, are not in contradiction
with the right of all categories of ships to innocent passage. The purpose of such,
measures is only to assure the coastal State of the innocence of passage; they are not
“requirements on foreign ships which have the practical effect of denying or impairing
the right of innocent passage” and they are not contrary to the Convention as long as
they do not discriminate against the ships of any State (Art. 24, para. 1). The measures
taken by the coastal State can be considered permissible on the basis of some of the
provisions of the Convention themselves. States’ legislations requiring prior notification
of the passage of warships or limiting the number of warships in passage are in ac-
cordance with Article 21 of the Convention permitting the coastal State to adopt laws
and regulations in respect of, inter alia: the safety of navigation and the regulation of
maritime traffic (para. 1/a/) and the preservation of the environment of the coastal State
and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution thereof (para. 1/f/). Moreover, such
requirements, due to the very nature and purpose of warships, can also be considered
as “necessary steps” the coastal State is allowed to take “in its territorial sea to prevent
passage which is not innocent” (Art. 25, para. 1).
10. As the LOS Convention is not yet in force and in their declarations, statements,
laws and regulations States – many of which are not likely to become parties to the
Convention – expressed different opinions on the right of innocent passage of warships,
the problem of the state of customary law concerning this question is relevant and
intriguing. Moreover, even the LOS Convention itself leaves an open door to the applica-
tion of customary law in respect to innocent passage. Namely, there is a sentence in
Article 19, paragraph 1 stating:

“Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of
international law”.

In respect of the passage of warships, the matter even at UNCLOS III resolved in a rather
vague manner, unsatisfactory to many States, there is a possibility of further development
of customary law. It may confirm, develop and clarify the provisions of the LOS Conven-
tion or even amend and replace them.
However, before trying to find out the answer to the above question, concerning
customary law of today, the question of customary law before the conclusion of the LOS
Convention should be asked. The practice and legislation of States was heterogenous:
many coastal States required prior notification or authorization, or limited the number
of warships in passage, but there were many others which permitted unconditioned and
unrestricted passage. It is therefore, difficult to claim that there had been a general rule;
142 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

the only possible conclusion is that in respect to innocent passage warships were not
treated equally with other categories of ships.
Such a variety of practice on the part of States prevailed at the time of application
of the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone which, as well
as the Conference at which it was adopted, in respect of warships provided more vague
solutions than UNCLOS III. It should, therefore, be observed how the State practice will
react to the new LOS Convention. The positions of States expressed until now (declara-
tions, statements, laws and regulations) are heterogeneous almost in the same measure
as before UNCLOS III. As many of such unilateral acts of States are yet to come, it
is difficult to give a definite answer concerning the content of customary law, which
is being developed primarily through the reaction of States to the LOS Convention. T.
Treves gives his opinion on customary law, still in evolution, which we would not dare
to share. In his view the present positions of States “portent à penser qu’on se trouve
en présence d’une évolution vers la pleine applicabilité du principe du passage inoffensif
aux navires de guerre”.33

3. STRAITS USED FOR INTERNATIONAL NAVIGATION

11. The extension of the territorial sea to 12 nautical miles, confirmed at UNCLOS III,
has been proclaimed by many States long before the commencement of the Conference.
As a consequence of the application of this rule, in order to pass through many straits
important for international navigation, ships have to navigate through the territorial sea
of either of the coastal States. In such a situation the maritime powers did not consider
the innocent passage régime as sufficient to ensure international navigation through straits,
particularly the adequate mobility and efficiency of their navies.34 Although considered
as one of the crucial issues before the beginning of UNCLOS III, the régime of the
passage through straits did not prove to be a very difficult issue at the Conference
itself.35 However, the problem has been dealt with more extensively than at the 1958
United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I) and several regimes
for the passage through straits were adopted (Part III of the LOS Convention).

33 T. Treves, La navigation, in: R.J. Dupuy, D. Vignes, Traité du Nouveau Droit de la Mer, Paris – Bruxelles
1985, p. 775.
34 Art. 16, para. 4 of the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone reads: “There
shall be no suspension of the innocent passage of foreign ships through straits which are used for international
navigation between one part of the high seas and another part of the high seas or the territorial sea of a
foreign State”.
35 For a survey of the negotiations concerning straits at UNCLOS III see D. Dugošević, Tjesnaci koji služe
medunarodnoj plovidbi, in: 15 Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje prava i medunarodno pravo, Novo pravo
mora, Zagreb 1982, pp. 34-47.
VI – NAVIGATION 143

The régime of innocent passage is retained only in respect of two kinds of straits
used for international navigation (Art. 45): a) a strait formed by an island of a State
bordering the strait and its mainland, if there exists seaward of the island a route through
the high seas or through an exclusive economic zone of similar convenience with respect
to navigation and hydrographical characteristics; b) a strait between a part of the high
seas or an exclusive economic zone and the territorial sea of a foreign State (Art. 38,
para. 1; Art. 45, para. 1). As the régime of innocent passage is more restrictive than the
other régime envisaged in the Convention for the passage through straits – the transit
passage – it is plausible that innocent passage has been, retained for straits mentioned
under a) as in this case the strait is only one of the similarly convenient routes in the
same direction. On the contrary, the category of straits mentioned under b) should not
be excluded from the transit passage régime because in the case of some “foreign States”
the strait which they are not bordering is the only route to their shores and ports.36
12. The very scope of Article 38, paragraph 1 and Article 45, paragraph 1(a) is clear
in the case of straits such as the Corfu Channel or the straits of Pemba and Zanzibar,
where “there exists seaward of the island a route through the high seas or through an
exclusive economic zone”, although the question whether a route is of “similar con-
venience with respect to navigational characteristics” in many cases depends upon the
destination of a ship. In order to make it clear that it considers the strait of Messina as
belonging to the category of straits envisaged in Article 45, paragraph 1(a), Italy in 1979
adopted a ministerial order concerning the right of ships to innocent passage in this
strait.37
However, Article 38, paragraph 1 does not provide a solution for the case where
the route seaward of the island is not a route through the high seas or through an ex-
clusive economic zone, but a route through the territorial sea belonging to the same coastal
State as the waters of the strait. Thus, in the case of States possessing archipelagos
adjacent to their coasts, the alternative routes would pass through another strait between
two islands belonging to the same State. It is obvious that at least in one of the straits
all ships should enjoy the right of transit passage, but the coastal State should not be
obliged to permit the application of the liberal régime of transit passage in all the straits
serving the same route of international navigation. The problem was noticed by Tullio
Treves:

36 According to Pharand, there are only about 20 such straits; for commercial shipping the most important
are: Juan de Fuca, Lema Channel, Jacques Cartier Pass and Jubal Strait; D. Pharand, International Straits,
in: 7 Thesaurus Acroasium, The Law of the Sea, Thessaloniki 1977, p. 76. In our view, the Strait of Tiran
belongs to the kind of straits envisaged in Art. 45, para. 1(b) of the LOS Convention. However, the Treaty
of Peace concluded between Egypt and Israel on 26 March 1979 contains specific regime for that strait
(Art. 5, para. 2); 18 International Legal Materials 362 (1979).
37 Order of the Ministry of the Merchant Navy of 5 November 1979; Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica
Italiana, no 328, 1 December 1979. See also: Treves, op. cit., pp. 776 and 789.
144 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

“... les raisons qui ont conduit à adopter l’exception prévue à cet article (Art. 38, para. 1-B.V.)
valent aussi dans le cas ou il y a une ou plusieurs routes alternatives passant entre des îles du
même Etat. La différence est que, dans ce cas, il faut déterminer quel est le détroit où vaut
le passage en transit et quel est le détroit où est applicable le passage inoffensif”.38

Faced with this problem two of the Mediterranean coastal States made declarations in
accordance with Article 310 of the LOS Convention. At the time of signing the Conven-
tion Greece made the following declaration:

“The present declaration concerns the provisions of Part III “on straits used for international
navigation” and more especially the application in practice of articles 36, 38, 41 and 42 of the
Convention on the Law of the Sea. In areas where there are numerous spread out islands that
form a great number of alternative straits which serve in fact one and the same route of inter-
national navigation, it is the understanding of Greece, that the coastal State concerned has the
responsibility to designate the route or routes, in the said alternative straits, through which ships
and aircrafts of third countries could pass under transit passage regime, in such a way as on
the one hand the requirements of international navigation and overflight are satisfied, and on
the other hand the minimum security requirements of both the ships and aircrafts in transit as
well as those of the coastal State are fulfilled”.39

The declaration of Greece was objected by Turkey, which qualified it as contrary to the
Convention and principles of international law.40
The declaration made by Yugoslavia at the time of ratification is based on similar
considerations as that of Greece:

“The Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia... considers that it may, on
the basis of article 38, paragraph 1, and article 45, paragraph 1(a) of the Convention, determine
by its laws and regulations which of the straits used for international navigation in the territorial
sea of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will retain the régime of innocent passage,
as appropriate”.41

13. The régime of transit passage, generally adopted for straits used for international
navigation, is a compromise between the wish of maritime powers for a free passage
and the efforts of States bordering straits to retain the regime of innocent passage in

38 Treves, op. cit., p. 790.


39 LSB, No. 5, pp. 13 and 45; see also: Treves, op. cit., pp. 789-790.
40 A/CONF.62/WS/37 of 25 April 1983.
41 LSB, No. 8, November 1986, p. 9.
VI – NAVIGATION 145

respect of all straits.42 The new régime accords States bordering straits sufficient legis-
lative powers to regulate the passage; the ship has to proceed without delay through the
strait, observing international rules and laws and regulations of the State bordering the
strait. Transit passage shall be applied to all “straits which are used for international
navigation between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another
part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone” (Art. 37), with the exception of
the already mentioned case of straits formed by the mainland and an island belonging
to the same State (Art. 38, para. 1). Thus, the application of the transit passage régime
does not depend upon any specific volume of international navigation but the existence
of such navigation must be confirmed and not only potential.
Although in respect to both passages no suspension is permitted, there are several
considerable differences between the régimes of innocent and transit passage. Innocent
passage is applicable only to ships; the régime of transit passage is enjoyed also by
aircraft. More clear than in the case of innocent passage, it has been pointed out that
“all ships and aircraft enjoy the right of transit passage” (Art. 38, para. 1), i.e. warships
and military aircraft are included. These last are even in a better position than civil
aircraft. They are required only “normally” to comply with safety measures established
by the ICAO (Art. 39, para. 3/a/). Spain, which has never accepted the principe that transit
passage includes overflight, on signing the Convention made a declaration interpreting
the word “normally” as meaning “except in cases of force majeure or distress”.43 This
interpretation, much as it should be supported in the interest of the safety of air naviga-
tion, is obviously contrary to the intentions of the drafters of Article 39, paragraph 3(a),
who envisaged the international rules covering air space superjacent to the high seas
applicable also to the overflight in transit passage.44
Another difference between the régimes of innocent and transit passage has also been
adopted in favour of navies: while exercising the right of transit passage submarines are
not required to navigate on the surface and to show their flags, as in the régime of
innocent passage. (Art. 20).45 Furthermore, neither criminal nor civil jurisdiction of the
coastal State in relation to foreign ships is provided for in the régime of transit passage.
States bordering straits are entitled to adopt laws and regulations in respect to a more
limited range of issues than in the régime of innocent passage. Their legislation may

42 Cf. the proposals of the United States (A/AC.138/SG.II/L.4) and the Soviet Union (A/AC.138/SC.II/L.7)
with the joint proposal of Cyprus, Greece, Indonesia, Malesia, Morocco, Philippines, Spain and Yemen
(A/AC.138/SC.II/L.18). The transit passage régime has been elaborated on the basis of the proposal of the
United Kingdom (A/CONF.62/G.2/L.3).
43 LSB, No. 5, p. 42.
44 See: Treves, op. cit., p. 799.
45 Opposite views concerning the passage of submarines in the regime of transit passage have been expressed;
see: W.M. Reisman, The Regime of Straits and National Security: An Appraisal of International Lawmaking;
J. Norton Moore, The Régime of Straits and the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea,
74 American Journal of International Law, pp. 48-121 (1980).
146 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

relate to: a) safety of navigation and the regulation of maritime traffic by designating
sea lanes and prescribing traffic separation schemes (with a more emphasized role of
the IMO than in respect of innocent passage); b) the protection of the marine environment,
but only by giving effect to applicable international regulations regarding the discharge
of oil, oily wastes and other noxious substances in the strait; c) the prevention of fishing;
d) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person in contravention of
the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of States bordering straits
(Art. 42, para. 1). The list of activities expressly prohibited to ships in transit passage
is also restricted. They must refrain from any threat or use of force, research and survey
activities and any other activities other than those incident to their normal modes of
continuous and expeditious transit (Art. 39 and 40).
The most important difference between the two regimes lays in the absence in the
transit passage regime of an analogous power to the one which is possessed by the coastal
State in respect of innocent passage: the right to take necessary steps to prevent passage
which is not innocent (Art. 25, para. 1). This cannot mean that States bordering straits
have no possibility to protect themselves from acts committed in their territorial sea by
ships and aircraft exercising the right of transit passage. Treves bases the right of the
coastal State-sovereign over its territorial sea – to intervene in respect of ships and aircraft
violating the régime of transit passage on Article 38, paragraph 3 which reads:

“Any activity which is not an exercise of the right of transit passage through a strait remains
subject to the other applicable provisions of this Convention”.46

At any rate, peaceful settlement of disputes, for which rules are provided for in this
Convention (Part. XV), should have priority over the use of force, except in cases of
real and imminent danger for the coastal State.
14. There are two other categories of straits to which under the LOS Convention
neither the regime of innocent passage nor transit passage applies. The first is the case
of “a strait used for international navigation, if there exists through the strait a route
through the high seas or through an exclusive economic zone of similar convenience
with, respect to navigational and hydrographical characteristics” (Art. 36). The Conven-
tion’s drafts did not provide for any régime of passage or navigation through such straits;
the only purpose of mentioning them in the Part of the Convention dealing with straits
was to exclude the applicability of the régimes of both transit and innocent passage to
such straits.
Yugoslavia, whose international maritime traffic depends upon the unimpeded
navigation through a strait belonging to the kind envisaged in Article 36 – the Strait of

46 Treves, op. cit., pp. 799-800.


VI – NAVIGATION 147

Otranto – insisted in specifying that freedom, of navigation apply to such straits.47 A


satisfactory formula was eventually agreed upon by the Drafting Committee and the
freedoms of navigation and overflight were confirmed in the second phrase of Article 36:

“... in such routes, the other relevant Parts of this Convention, including the provisions regarding
the freedoms of navigation and overflight, apply”.

15. The fourth category of straits under the LOS Convention is “straits in which passage
is regulated in whole or in part by long-standing international conventions in force
specifically relating to such straits”. It has been confirmed that “nothing in this Part (Part
III – Straits Used for International Navigation – B.V.) affects” the legal régime in such
straits in which passage is regulated by “long-standing international conventions” (Art.
35/c/).
It is clear that this provision is to be applied to the straits of Bosporus and Darda-
nelles, in which passage is regulated “in whole” by the 1936 Montreux Convention.48
However, commentaries differ in respect to the application of Article 35 (c) to straits
concerning which treaties have been concluded, but they regulate passage only “in part”;
such are the Danish Straits (Treaty of 14 March 1857)49 and the Strait of Magellan
(Treaty of 23 July 1881).50 While for K.L. Koh examples of treaties envisaged in Article
35(c) are the Turkish Straits, “the Strait of Magellan, and the Danish Straits,51 T. Treves
states that in negotiating this article delegations had in mind the Turkish Straits and the
Strait of Magellan.52 Be that as it may, some States are inclined to extend the scope
of Article 35(c). Thus, Sweden and Finland, at the time of signature of the LOS Conven-
tion expressed their understanding that the exception from the transit passage régime
provided for in Article 35(c) is applicable to the strait between Finland (the Åland Islands)
and Sweden, as in that strait the passage is regulated in part by a long-standing inter-
national convention.53 Neither of the two States indicated to which convention this
referred to, but they must have had in mind the Convention concluded on 20 October
1921 in Geneva.54 Sweden also excluded the application of the transit passage régime
in respect to Oresund, whereas the other State bordering that strait, Denmark made in
this respect no comment. Article 35(c) can in no way be applied to the Treaty of Peace
concluded between Israel and Egypt on 26 March 1979, whereby the two States deter-

47 See: B. Vukas, Konvencija Ujedinjenih naroda o pravu mora i plovidba Otrantom, in: Uporedno pomorsko
pravo i pomorska kupoprodaja, 1984, No. 103-104, pp. 515-532.
48 M.O. Hudson, 7 International Legislation 386-403.
49 Text in: V. Ibler, Sloboda mora, Zagreb 1965, pp. 102-106.
50 See: J. Andrassy, Medunarodno pravo, 9th ed., Zagreb 1987, p. 189.
51 K.L. Koh, Straits in International Navigation – Contemporary Issues, 1982, p. 149.
52 Treves, op. cit., pp. 791-792.
53 LSB, No. 5, pp. 41 and 43.
54 9 League of Nations Treaty Series 211. See also: Treves, op. cit., p. 992, note 25.
148 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

mined the régime of the Strait of Tiran and the Bay of Aqaba (Art. 5, para. 2). Article
35(c), relating to “long-standing international conventions” was drafted even, before the
conclusion of this Peace Treaty. Therefore, even Israel, which claims that “the régime
of the Peace Treaty will continue to prevail and to be applicable” to the Bay of Aqaba
and the Strait of Tiran, does not refer to Article 35(c).55 On his side, Egypt stresses
that the provisions of the Peace Treaty “come within the framework of the general régime
of waters forming straits referred to in part III of the Convention...”.56
As far as the Mediterranean is concerned, Article 35(c) could be referred to in respect
to the Strait of Gibraltar. Namely, the Declaration adopted on 8 April 1904 (London)
by France and Great Britain granted free, passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. On
the basis of the Convention concluded between France and Spain on 27 November 1912
(Madrid), Spain acceeded to the 1904 Declaration.57 For the time being neither of the
States bordering the Strait of Gibraltar has referred to Article 35(c), although at the time
of signing the Convention Spain made several comments concerning the regime of straits.

4. THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE

16. For maritime powers and for many other States the granting of the freedom of
navigation in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was a conditio sine qua non for the
acceptance of that new and specific legal régime at sea. Moreover, they have accomplished
their goal that the freedom of navigation (as well as the freedoms of overflight and of
the laying of submarine cables and pipelines) be the one “referred to in article 87”, i.e.
in the régime of the high seas (Art. 58, para.1).58 As a consequence thereof there are
no specific rules on navigation in the Convention’s Part on the EEZ. Rules on navigation
on the high seas are to be applied in the EEZ not only as a consequence of Article 58,
paragraph 1, which refers to the freedom of navigation as to a freedom of the high seas,
but also on the basis of paragraph 2 of the same Article, which provides for the applica-
tion in the EEZ of Articles 88 to 115 (general provisions on the high seas) “in so far
as they are not incompatible” with the specific rules on the EEZ (Part. V). However,
it must be pointed out that some of the rules on the high seas have already been amended
taking into account the establishment of the EEZ. For example, the hot pursuit of a foreign
ship may now commence also for violations of the laws and regulations of the coastal
State in its EEZ (Art. 111, para. 2).

55 Note by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations sent to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations, dated 9 December 1984; LSB, No. 4, p. 23.
56 Declaration E made by Egypt upon ratification of the LOS Convention, LSB, Special issue I p. 3.
57 For the texts: Ibler, op. cit., p. 122.
58 See: B.H. Oxman, The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: The 1977 New York Session,
72 American Journal of International Law 72 (1978).
VI – NAVIGATION 149

Notwithstanding the recognition of the high seas freedom of navigation, it is obvious


that the rights and the jurisdiction of the coastal State, in practice shall inevitably limit
and hamper the freedom of navigation in the EEZ. Thus, the construction of artificial
islands, installations and structures and the establishment of safety zones around them
may cause interference to free navigation except “to the use of recognized sea lanes
essential to international navigation” (Art. 60, para. 7). On the other hand the coastal
State may, exercising its sovereign rights in respect to the living resources of its EEZ
“take such measures including boarding, inspection, arrest and judicial proceedings, as
may be necessary to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations adopted by it in
conformity with this Convention” (Art. 73, para. 1). However, in order not to impair
navigation unnecessarily, paragraph 2 of Article 73 provides that “arrested vessels and
their crews shall be promptly released upon the posting of reasonable bond or other
security”.
The jurisdiction of the coastal State with regard to the protection and preservation
of the marine environment is very often being quoted as a threat to the freedom of
navigation (para. 1/b/ /iii/, Art. 56). Particularly relevant in this sense is the right of the
coastal State to adopt and enforce laws and regulations with respect to pollution by
dumping and pollution from vessels.59 However, safeguards have been provide (for in
order not to unduly impair the freedom of navigation in the EEZ.60 Although it is not
explicitly mentioned in the LOS Convention, the possibility of determining sea lanes
and prescribing traffic separation schemes exists also in the EEZ (as well as on the high
seas). Ships’ routeing beyond the limits of national jurisdiction has been provided for
in the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea, 1972,61 and the
elaborated routeing measures are adopted by IMO. Contrary to the territorial sea, where
the final decision remains with the coastal State, in respect to routeing systems any part
of which lies beyond the territorial sea, the final decision is taken by IMO.62 Such a
procedure ensures that in the adoption of routeing systems the interests of the coastal
States as well as the freedom and safety of navigation be taken into account.
17. Due to the wide acceptance of the EEZ by coastal States, this régime was con-
sidered as a part of general customary international law even before the completion of

59 Articles 210, 211, 216 and 220.


60 Part XII, Section 7.
61 Rule 1 and 10; Službeni list SFRJ, No. 60 (1975).
62 General Provisions On Ships’ Routeing, 3.8, IMO, Amendment No. 6 to the fifth edition of Ships’ Routeing,
Amendments adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee at its fifty-second session (January 1986). For
the time being the traffic separation schemes in the Mediterranean are: in the Strait of Gibraltar, off Cani
Island, off Cape Bon, in the Approaches to the Piraeus Harbour, in the Southern Approaches to the Kerch
Strait, between the Ports of Odessa and Ilichevsk and in the Approaches to the Ports of Odessa and Ilichevsk;
IMO Ships’ Routeing, fifth ed., London 1984, Part B, Section III.
150 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

UNCLOS III.63 Today 69 States have proclaimed their EEZs and 20 other have estab-
lished an exclusive fishery zone of 200 nautical miles.64 Although they belong to all
oceans and seas, in the Mediterranean a certain self-restraint in proclaiming the EEZs
is to be noticed. There are only two States which proclaimed their EEZs and adopted
elaborated regulations in respect to this régime: the Soviet Union and Romania.65 Egypt
has proclaimed its EEZ by a declaration made upon its ratification of the LOS Conven-
tion.66 It is unclear whether the claim of Morocco to a 200-mile EEZ is limited only
to its Atlantic coast or whether it includes the Mediterranean coast.67 Malta claims only
a fishery zone of 25 miles and Turkey limits its fishery zone to 12 miles.68
France and Spain do not apply their laws on the EEZ to the Mediterranean69 and
also the 200-mile fishery zone of the European Economic Community has not been
proclaimed in that sea.70
Such a reserved attitude in respect to the EEZ is concurrent with the opinion that
this régime corresponds to the oceans and not to small, semi-enclosed seas, such as the
Mediterranean.71
18. The resistance of some States to the establishment of the EEZs in the Mediter-
ranean is due to several reasons, one of them being the fear that their establishment could
cause problems to free navigation in that sea. Apart from the inevitable limitations to
the freedom of navigation under the régime of the EEZ mentioned above under 16,
statements made by some delegations at the final part of the eleventh session of UNCLOS
III and the declarations of some States made in accordance with Article 310 of the LOS
Convention justify such fears. Thus, Brazil, Cape Verde and Uruguay state that under
the régime of the EEZ there is no right to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres
in the EEZ of another State.72 Although these declarations were not made by Mediter-

63 See: B. Conforti, Aspetti transitori della disciplina della zona economica esclusiva, in: La zona economica
esclusiva, ed. by B. Conforti, Milano 1983, p. 4; L. Caflisch, Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone:
An Overview, in: The International Legal Regime of the Mediterranean Sea, ed. by U. Leanza, Milano
1987, p. 170.
64 There are still 13 States which maintain 200 miles as the breadth of their territorial seas; LSB, No. 8, p.
28.
65 LSB, No. 4, pp. 31-40; No. 8, pp. 17-22.
66 LSB, Special Issue I, p. 4.
67 The Law of the Sea, National Legislation on the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Economic Zone and the
Exclusive Fishery Zone, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Law of the
Sea, United Nations, New York 1986, pp. 195-198.
68 LSB, No. 2, March 1985, pp. 55 and 85.
69 Ibid., pp. 31 and 78; The Law of the Sea, National Legislation on the Exclusive Economic Zone..., pp. 101-
109, 282-283.
70 See: L. Lucchini, M. Voelckel, Les Etats et la Mer, le nationalisme maritime, La Documentation française,
Paris 1977, pp. 406-407.
71 See R.J. Dupuy, in: The International Legal Regime of the Mediterranean Sea..., p. 274.
72 LSB, No. 5, p. 45.
VI – NAVIGATION 151

ranean coastal States (which in their laws and regulations confirm the right of all States,
whether coastal or land-locked, to the freedom of navigation), Italy denied such claims:

“- according to the Convention, the coastal State does not enjoy residual rights in the exclusive
economic zone. In particular the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State in such zone do
not include the right to obtain notification of military exercises or manoeuvres or to authorize
them”.73

It is obvious that for the sake of peace and security military exercises and manoeuvres
in foreign EEZs should be avoided. However, such a restriction to the freedom of
activities of navies was not intended by the drafters of the LOS Convention. Article 58,
paragraph 1 grants freedom of navigation and overflight “referred to in article 87”, i.e.
in the régime of the high seas, where military exercises and manoeuvres are legitimate
activities. It may be claimed that to a certain degree they are an indispensible element
of the free navigation of warships. Moreover it should not be forgotten that besides the
freedoms of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines,
all ships enjoy in the EEZ “other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these
freedoms, such as those associated with the operation of ships, aircraft and submarine
cables and pipelines...” (Art. 58, para. 1). There is no doubt that exercises and manoeuvres
of navies are “uses of the sea related” to their freedoms of navigation and overflight and
that they are “associated with the operation” of warships and military aircraft.74 These
were, indeed, the activities that the military powers had in mind when they insisted on
drafting the quoted final phrase of Article 58, paragraph 1. It is, therefore, erroneous
to define these activities as “residual rights in the exclusive economic zone” as the Italian
declarations states. In 1978 Peru tried to prevent such an effect of Article 58, paragraph 1
by suggesting the insertion of a new paragraph 2:

“Foreign warships and military aircraft passing through the exclusive economic zone shall refrain
from engaging in manoeuvres or using weapons without the consent of the coastal State”.75

The Peruvian suggestion was not accepted, and the result of this failure to change the
Draft Convention can now not be remedied by declarations claiming the interdiction of
military exercises or manoeuvres without consent of the coastal State. However, it should
be pointed out that in carrying out such military activities foreign States must “have due
regard to the right and duties of the coastal State and shall comply with the laws and
regulations adopted by the coastal State in accordance with the provisions of this Conven-

73 Ibid., pp. 15 and 45.


74 In this sense: T. Treves, Le nouveau régime des espaces marins, paper presented to the Conference: Les
institutions face aux nouvelles données de la présence en mer, Paris, 26-28 May 1983, p. 20.
75 C.2/Informal Meeting/9 of 27 April 1978.
152 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

tion and other rules of international law ...” (Art. 58, para. 3) and that they have to be
carried out with the restraint “from any threat or use of force” against the coastal State
(Art. 301). In so far as military exercises and manoeuvres of foreign navies are not
contrary to these provisions of the LOS Convention they should not be considered
contrary to the régime of the EEZ and prior authorization should not be required.

5. SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES CONCERNING NAVIGATION

19. Contrary to the 1958 codification of the law of the sea, when a special treaty was
adopted concerning the settlement of disputes arising out of the interpretation or applica-
tion of the Geneva Conventions – the Optional Protocol of Signature Concerning the
Compulsory Settlement of Disputes – the LOS Convention itself contains a system of
disputes settlement (Part. XV). The basic principle of this system is that any dispute
concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention not settled by recourse
to other means provided for in the Convention (Part XV, Section 1), shall be submitted
at the request of any party to the dispute to the court or tribunal having jurisdiction under
the Convention (Art. 286). For such judicial settlement of disputes States may choose
one or more of the following means: a) the International Tribunal for the Law of the
Sea established in accordance with the Convention; b) the International Court of Justice;
c) an arbitral tribunal also constituted in accordance with the Convention; d) a special
arbitral tribunal which may be constituted for four categories of disputes – one of them
being disputes concerning “navigation, including pollution from vessels and by dumping”
(Art. 1, Annex VIII to the LOS Convention). The Soviet Union, the Ukrainian SSR and
Egypt are the only Mediterranean States which have made their choice until now.76
The USSR and Ukraine have chosen an arbitral tribunal as the basic means for the
settlement of disputes and a special arbitral tribunal for the four specified categories of
disputes. Egypt has accepted the general arbitral procedure for all disputes.
20. However, the Convention provides also some limitations on (Art. 297) and
optional exceptions to (Art. 298) the applicability of the mentioned compulsory procedures
entailing binding decisions. One of them permits a State to declare that it does not accept
any one or more of these procedures with respect to disputes “concerning military
activities, including military activities by government vessels and aircraft engaged in
non-commercial service...” (para. 1(b), Art. 298). Tunisia, the Soviet Union and the
Ukrainian SSR have already declared that they do not accept compulsory procedures
entailing binding decisions for the consideration of disputes concerning military activi-
ties.77 It is obvious that this optional exception relates to all maritime areas; the extent

76 LSB, No. 5, p. 23; Special Issue I, p. 4.


77 LSB, No. 5, p. 23; Special Issue I, p. 8.
VI – NAVIGATION 153

to which navigation of government vessels itself can be considered as a “military activity”


is less clear.
Taking into account all the limitations and exceptions, the general picture concerning
the applicability of the compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions to different
maritime areas is the following:

a) Although disputes concerning the freedom of navigation on the high seas are not particularly
mentioned, it is obvious that the compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions are
fully applicable to such disputes as they are not subject to any specific limitation or optional
exception.
b) Compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions are to be applied also to disputes
concerning navigation in the exclusive economic zone (para. l(a) and (b), Art. 297).
c) The answer to the question of the applicability of compulsory procedures entailing binding
decisions to disputes concerning navigation in the internal waters, the archipelagic waters
and the territorial sea is vague. There is no explicit exclusion of disputes concerning these
areas under the sovereignty of coastal States from the application of these procedures but,
according to A.O. Adede, such an exclusion was not necessary:

“Disputes arising from the conduct of states in their territorial sea are assumed to be unquestion-
ably within the competence of domestic courts, as in the case of those arising in the land territory
of a state. Thus, no specific exclusion was required under paragraph 1 of Article 17 (of the
RSNT – para. 1, Art. 297 of the LOS Convention – B.V.) with respect to such disputes”.78

In general, this conclusion seems plausible if we take into account the fact that com-
pulsory procedures entailing binding decisions for disputes concerning the EEZ and the
continental shelf, where the coastal State has only sovereign rights and jurisdiction and
not sovereignty, have been envisaged only in respect of some, explicitly mentioned,
categories of disputes (Art. 297, para. 1). However, we could not share Adede’s con-
clusion in respect to all uses of the territorial sea. It is difficult to accept the interpretation
that States would not enjoy the protection of international courts or tribunals (after the
exhaustion of local remedies – Art. 295) in respect of the right of innocent passage in
the territorial sea or the right of transit passage through straits used for international
navigation.79
21. The right of the coastal State to take, within the limits of its jurisdiction, different
measures (arrest included) against foreign ships violating its laws and regulations adopted
in accordance with international law, may hamper the interests of international navigation
considerably. As a safeguard against this danger the LOS Convention provides that

78 A.O. Adede, Law of the Sea: The Scope of the Third-Party Compulsory Procedures for Settlement of
Disputes, 71 American Journal of International Law 307 (1977).
79 W. Riphagen comes to the same conclusion by extending the application of Art. 297, para. 1(a) and (b)
also to other areas besides the EEZ; W. Riphagen, Dispute Settlement in the 1982 United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea, in: The New Law of the Sea..., pp. 288-289.
154 10 – THE NEW LAW OF THE SEA AND NAVIGATION

arrested vessels and their crews have to be promptly released upon the posting of reason-
able bond or other security.80 Moreover, the settlement of disputes system contains
specific rules for disputes where “it is alleged that the detaining State has not complied
with the provisions of this Convention for the prompt release of the vessel or its crew
upon the posting of a reasonable bond or other financial security...” (Art. 292, para. 1).
Such a question may be submitted to any court or tribunal agreed upon by the parties.
If there is no agreement within 10 days from the time of detention, the case may be
submitted to a court or a tribunal accepted by the detaining State or to the International
Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, unless the parties otherwise agree. “The court or tribunal
has to deal without delay with the application for release, without prejudice to the merits
of any case before the appropriate domestic forum against the vessel, its owner or crew”
(Art. 292, para. 3). The court or tribunal determines the bond or other security, and once
they are posted, the authorities of the detaining State have to comply promptly with that
decision concerning the release of the vessel or its crew (Art. 292, para. 4).
Several States have made declarations choosing the court or tribunal for disputes
concerning the prompt release of vessels. As far as the Mediterranean coastal States are
concerned, the Ukrainian SSR and the Soviet Union have recognized the competence
of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.81
The rules on the prompt release of vessels confirm the fact that the LOS Convention
is an inseparable whole and that in substantial and procedural provisions relative to
navigation the interests of different groups of States are carefully balanced. It would thus
be harmful, dangerous and unjust to depend upon customary law developed on the basis
of several parts of the LOS Convention and not to apply the whole Convention as treaty
law. The Mediterranean States should ratify the Convention and thus contribute to its
early entry into force.

80 Articles 73, 216, 218, 220 and 226 of the LOS Convention.
81 LSB, No. 5, p. 58.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA
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Chapter 11

L’UTILISATION PACIFIQUE DE LA MER, DÉNUCLÉARISATION


ET DÉSARMEMENT*

1. GENERALITES

1.1. La mer, lieu de paix?

A. L’utilisation de la mer et l’emploi de la force

1. Observation générale
De tous temps, la satisfaction des besoins de l’homme a été étroitement liée à un désir
de rendre impossible la satisfaction de ces mêmes besoins chez un autre homme. Au
fil de l’histoire, des tribus, des peuples et des Etats sont entrés en conflit pour s’assurer
leur nourriture, leur établissement, des voies de communication, des matières premières,
etc. La compétition parmi les peuples et les Etats existait même lorsqu’il y avait suffi-
samment de richesses et d’espace pour tous; la course aux régions inexplorées, aux
colonies, aux sphères d’influence en sont des exemples.
Ainsi, en ce qui concerne les espaces marins et leurs ressources, les puissances
maritimes les plus importantes s’efforçaient d’acquérir une position privilégiée et de rendre
plus difficile et même impossible aux autres peuples et Etats l’utilisation de la mer pour
la pêche ou la navigation. Ils utilisèrent dans ce but toutes les formes possibles de pression
et de menace, voire employèrent la force. L’homme engageait donc la force dans des
activités, pacifiques en elles-mêmes, dont il souhaitait exclure l’autre. Cependant, sauf
dans la compétition entre les Etats en vue de l’utilisation de la mer elle-même, la force
sur mer était employée également lors de la plupart des guerres entre les Etats, provoquées
par des raisons qui n’avaient le plus souvent aucun lien avec la mer elle même.
Dans cette perspective historique, la situation actuelle doit malheureusement nous
sembler bien plus dangereuse que toutes celles que l’humanité a connues jusqu’à présent.
A la différence de l’époque où la mer paraissait être un réservoir inépuisable de poissons
et une voie navigable indestructible pour un nombre relativement restreint d’Etats, elle

* Chapitre 21 du livre Traité du Nouvea Droit de la MER, (Sous la direction de René-Jean Dupuy et
Daniel Vignes), Economica-Paris, Bruylant-Brussels, 1985.
158 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

est de nos jours surexploitée et polluée et pourtant elle doit encore aujourd’hui satisfaire
les intérêts de cent soixante pays en matière de pêche, de ressources minérales et de
navigation. D’autre part, la course effrénée à l’armement nucléaire, qui est une grave
menace pour la survie de l’humanité, aboutit à donner aux marines de guerre une impor-
tance sans précédent. En effet, les grandes puissances sont persuadées que les sous-marins
nucléaires équipés de missiles balistiques sont un garant de leur équilibre nucléaire mutuel
et un facteur de dissuasion de la première attaque nucléaire.

2. Objet du chapitre
La quinzaine d’années de durs efforts accomplis pour parvenir à la Convention des
Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer et le contenu volumineux et complexe de celle-ci
montrent l’ampleur du rôle actuel de la mer et l’importance d’une réglementation des
rapports entre les Etats dans ce domaine. On remarque néanmoins dans cette convention
une disproportion, quant à leur nombre et leur précision, des règles sur les activités à
caractère économique ou scientifique et sur les autres utilisations pacifiques de la mer
par rapport aux dispositions régissant l’utilisation de la mer à des fins militaires. Il
convient, à cet égard, de souligner qu’il existe des normes du droit de la mer qui régissent
les activités, qu’elles soient de nature civile ou militaire, mais que les règles qui délimitent
les activités civiles des activités militaires manquent de précision.
Les activités à caractère économique ou scientifique et les autres utilisations pacifiques
de la mer ainsi que leur réglementation sont traitées dans les autres parties du présent
ouvrage, nous n’en parlerons donc que très rarement dans ce chapitre. Par ailleurs, notre
tâche n’est pas d’examiner les règles internationales relatives à la guerre maritime. Ce
sur quoi nous nous pencherons, ce sont les dispositions concernant l’utilisation de la mer
à des fins militaires en période de paix. Ces dispositions ne sont pas nombreuses; beau-
coup d’entre elles ont été adoptées il y a bien longtemps et l’on peut souvent se demander
si elles sont encore en vigueur; elles ne sont pas systématiques et sont, dans bien des
cas, valables seulement pour des espaces restreints et pour un petit nombre d’Etats. Leur
contenu est de deux sortes: les unes définissent l’utilisation de la mer à des fins militaires
en temps de paix (par exemple l’immunité des navires de guerre), tandis que les autres
limitent ou interdisent certaines actions militaires (par exemple l’installation d’armements
nucléaires). Pourtant, les différences entre ces deux catégories de dispositions s’effacent
souvent, car les activités militaires sont parfois strictement limitées aussi par les dis-
positions de la première catégorie (par exemple le passage des navires de guerre dans
les détroits turcs).
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 159

B. Affectation de la mer à des fins pacifiques

1. Origine du principe
La notion d’affectation exclusive d’un espace “à des fins pacifiques” n’a été introduite
dans le droit de la mer que lors de sa dernière révision. Ce terme a commencé à être
employé dans le Traité sur l’Antarctique du 1er décembre 19591 et dans le Traité du
27 janvier 1967 sur les principes régissant les activités des Etats en matière d’exploration
et d’utilisation de l’espace extra-atmosphérique, y compris la Lune et les autres corps
célestes.2 Ces deux traités, dont le but a été d’établir une coopération internationale en
matière de recherche d’espaces nouveaux, en même temps que d’affirmer le principe
de leur utilisation exclusive à des fins pacifiques, imposent la démilitarisation de ces
espaces. Cependant, comme le dit Quéneudec, bien que la démilitarisation – donc l’inter-
diction d’installations et d’activités militaires – soit une condition de l’affectation exclusive
à des fins pacifiques, elle n’est pas réglementée de la même façon pour l’Antarctique
et pour l’espace extra-atmosphérique; elle est beaucoup plus complète dans le cas de
l’Antarctique.3

2. Droit de la mer
En ce qui concerne le droit de la mer, l’affectation à des fins pacifiques n’est véritable-
ment mentionnée pour la première fois que dans la Déclaration des principes régissant
le fond des mers et des océans au-delà des limites de la juridiction nationale, adoptée
le 17 décembre 1970 par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Il y est dit que la
zone internationale des fonds marins sera affectée à des fins exclusivement pacifiques,
et l’on prévoit la conclusion d’accords internationaux “de manière à appliquer effective-
ment ce principe et à faire un pas vers l’exclusion du fond des mers et des océans, ainsi
que leur sous-sol, de la course aux armements” (8ème principe).
Dans la Convention sur le droit de la mer, on reprend le principe de l’utilisation de
la zone internationale des fonds marins “à des fins exclusivement pacifiques” (art. 141).
Pourtant, dans la Convention, ce principe s’étend également à la mer elle-même. Ainsi,
dans l’art. 88, il est dit que “la haute mer est affectée à des fins pacifiques”. En vertu
de l’art. 58, cette disposition s’applique aussi à la zone économique exclusive. Quant
à la recherche scientifique marine, “elle est menée à des fins exclusivement pacifiques”
(art. 240, a).
Quelle est l’importance de l’adoption de ce nouveau principe dans le droit de la mer?
Signifie-t-elle qu’il est désormais interdit d’utiliser la mer à des fins militaires? Il est

1 R.T.N.U., vol. 402, p. 71.


2 R.T.N.U., vol. 610, p. 205.
3 J.P. QUÉNEUDEC, Le Statut international des espaces el les armes, in Le Droit international et les armes,
Journées de la Société française pour le Droit International, Montpellier 1982, Pedone, 1983, pp. 250 et s.
160 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

compréhensible que les Etats n’aient pas pu accepter l’interdiction, par cette convention,
des activités militaires en mer, alors qu’ils comptent – et cela fermement – sur la mer
comme théâtre de guerre. En outre, il ressort de la Convention elle-même que les activités
militaires ne sont pas interdites en mer: les règles relatives à la navigation et au survol
concernent également les avions et les navires de guerre; dans tes dispositions sur le
règlement des différends, une disposition spéciale se rapporte aux “différends relatifs
à des activités militaires” (art. 298, par. 1, b).
Cela veut-il dire alors que l’utilisation des mers à des fins pacifiques est un simple
slogan dans la Convention, qui n’entraîne aucune conséquence quant au comportement
des Etats? La signification de cette notion se trouve définie à l’art. 301 de la Convention:

“Dans l’exercice de leurs droits et l’exécution de leurs obligations en vertu de la Convention,


les Etats Parties s’abstiennent de recourir à la menace ou à l’emploi de la force contre l’intégrité
territoriale ou l’indépendance politique de tout Etat, ou de toute autre manière incompatible
avec les principes du droit international énoncés dans la Charte des Nations Unies.”

Comme conséquence de cette disposition, on peut dire que le principe de l’affectation


de la mer à des fins pacifiques dans les rapports entre les Etats riverains n’a, dans le
droit de la mer, que le sens d’une application formelle de certains principes de base du
droit international général et de la Charte des Nations Unies. Il ne restreint expressément
aucune activité militaire en mer. Des limitations concrètes à l’utilisation de la mer à des
fins militaires peuvent, en revanche, être introduites par des accords internationaux
(comme l’a prévu la Déclaration sur les fonds marins de 1970, et comme l’a traduit dans
les faits le traité interdisant de placer des armes nucléaires et d’autres armes de destruction
massive sur le fond des mers et des océans, ainsi que dans leur sous-sol, ouvert à la
signature le 11 février 1971;4 elles peuvent aussi découler du droit coutumier (par
exemple l’interdiction des essais nucléaires en haute mer).

C. Zones de paix

1. Initiatives
Parallèlement à l’adoption dans le droit de la mer du principe de l’affectation à des fins
pacifiques, des efforts ont été déployés afin que certaines régions et surtout des espaces
marins soient proclamés “zones de paix”. Les raisons de ces initiatives sont les mêmes
que celles qui ont conduit la plupart des pays à insister à la troisième Conférence des
Nation Unies sur le droit de la mer sur le principe de l’utilisation à des fins pacifiques:
on souhaite empêcher la militarisation de la mer et de son sous-sol (en dépit et en raison
d’une intensité croissante de cette militarisation), de même que la confrontation, de plus

4 Texte dans R.G.D.I.P., 1971, p. 387.


VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 161

en plus dangereuse, des flottes militaires des grandes puissances, laquelle s’étend quasi-
ment à toutes les mers. Cette identité de motifs fait naître aussi les mêmes difficultés
dans la mise en œuvre de l’idée: la proclamation d’une zone de paix sur la mer se heurte
à d’énormes difficultés, car les grandes puissances ne sont pas disposées à retirer leurs
marines de guerre ni, pour des raisons stratégiques, à les confiner dans une partie quel-
conque de la mer.

2. L’océan Indien
Actuellement, l’océan Indien est l’unique zone de paix, proclamée telle seulement par
une Déclaration contenue dans la résolution 2832 (XXVI), du 16 décembre 1971, de
l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Selon cette Déclaration, l’océan Indien ainsi
que l’espace aérien surjacent et les fonds marins sous-jacents sont désignés pour toujours
comme zone de paix. Pendant les travaux du Comité ad hoc de l’océan Indien (créé en
1973), les principes de la Déclaration ont été modifiés et complétés, de sorte qu’ils
comportent aujourd’hui: l’arrêt du processus d’escalade et d’expansion de la présence
militaire des grandes puissances, l’élimination des bases et autres installations militaires
des grandes puissances, la dénucléarisation, le non-recours à la force et le règlement
pacifique des différends, l’interdiction de recours à la menace ou à l’emploi de la force
de la part des navires de guerre ou des avions contre la souveraineté, l’intégrité territoriale
ou l’indépendance des Etats du littoral et de l’arrière-pays, l’utilisation libre et sans
entrave de la zone de l’océan Indien par les navires de tous les pays conformément aux
normes et principes du droit international.5
En vue de la mise en œuvre de ces principes, les pays riverains et ceux de l’arrière-
pays ont demandé la convocation d’une conférence sur l’océan Indien qui définirait les
mesures à prendre pour l’application des principes de la Déclaration de l’Assemblée
générale. Jusqu’à présent, les grandes puissances ont évite la convocation de cette
conférence, prévue cependant pour 1985 (à Sri Lanka). La septième Conférence des Chefs
d’Etat ou de gouvernement des pays non alignés, qui s’est tenue à New Delhi en mars
1983, s’est prononcée une fois de plus pour la désignation de l’océan Indien comme une
zone de paix, elle a condamné vigoureusement l’escalade de la rivalité des grandes
puissances dans cet océan et elle a invité tous les pays à contribuer au succès de la
Conférence de Sri Lanka.6

3. La Méditerranée
Bien avant l’océan Indien et avec beaucoup plus d’intensité, la mer Méditerranée est
devenue un lieu de confrontation des flottes des deux blocs. Quant à cette mer, des idées

5 Cf. H.L. LABROUSSE, L’océan Indien “zone de paix”, Le Droit international et les armes, op. cit., pp.
258 et s.
6 Medunarodna politika, 1983, no 792, p. 27.
162 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

et des propositions apparaissent qui ont pour but la réduction des forces armées dans
la région, la diminution des tensions, la solution pacifique des différends et le développe-
ment de la coopération entre les pays riverains. Conscients du lien qui existe entre la
paix et la sécurité en Europe et en Méditerranée, les Etats participants à la Conférence
sur la sécurité et la coopération en Europe ont adopté, dans l’Acte Final de la Conférence,
une partie spéciale consacrée aux “Questions relatives à la sécurité et à la coopération
en Méditerranée”.
La proclamation de la Méditerranée comme zone de paix est également proposée
ces dernières années; ainsi, la septième Conférence au sommet des non-alignés a soutenu
l’effort des Nations Unies tendant à transformer la Méditerranée en zone de paix et de
coopération.7
Ce concept de “zone de paix” (en général et plus particulièrement en mer) est encore
beaucoup moins précis aujourd’hui que ne le sont les notions de “zone démilitarisée”
ou de “zone dénucléarisée”, dont nous parlons plus loin. Le contenu du régime de chaque
zone particulière sera défini par le document international qui établit une telle zone.
Néanmoins, pour qu’une zone de paix sur des mers et des océans mérite ce nom, le
document par lequel elle est créée devrait reprendre au moins les principes énoncés par
la résolution 2832 (XXVI) de l’Assemblée générale relative à l’océan Indien.

1.2. La mer et la stratégie contemporaine

1. Introduction
Dès qu’il eut mis au point les moyens de navigation, l’homme commença à utiliser la
mer comme théâtre de guerre. Les marines de guerre s’y affrontaient au cours de combats
navals; elles servaient également au transport de troupes en terre étrangère. Au cours
des siècles, l’utilisation de la mer à des fins militaires est devenue de plus en plus variée:
on empêche l’adversaire d’exploiter les richesses de la mer, on l’empêche d’utiliser la
mer pour le transport, et on empêche aussi les neutres de maintenir avec lui des relations
commerciales et de transport. Cependant, la force militaire est employée sur la mer non
seulement à des fins strictement belliqueuses, mais encore en vue de l’application d’une
politique de puissance et de pression en temps de paix. Les marines de guerre ont pour
tâche de faciliter par leur présence les conquêtes coloniales et d’établir des sphères
d’intérêts, de maintenir en place les gouvernements amis et d’aider à renverser les régimes
ennemis, d’impressionner et de tenir en état de subordination les petits Etats côtiers,
d’assurer leurs propres communications maritimes, etc.

7 Ibid., p. 32.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 163

2. La stratégie navale d’aujourd’hui


Contrairement à ce que pourrait laisser prévoir l’intense développement de l’aviation,
l’importance des marines de guerre est aujourd’hui plus grande que jamais; un nombre
croissant d’Etats possèdent des forces navales de plus en plus puissantes, qu’ils sont
toujours prêts à employer. Toutefois, le danger essentiel provient de ce que les grandes
puissances maritimes sont dotées d’armements nucléaires et que les superpuissances
fondent, en bonne partie, leur conception de l’équilibre des forces sur leur capacité
nucléaire maritime.8 Des missiles stratégiques nucléaires sont installés sur les sous-marins
nucléaires, et les grandes puissances estiment que cette partie de leur arsenal nucléaire
est moins vulnérable que celle qui est installée sur la terre ferme. Cette appréciation vaut
toujours, car il n’existe pas encore de moyen de détection des sous-marins à toutes les
profondeurs. Un sous-marin dans les profondeurs des océans est, affirm-t-on, le moyen
de dissuasion le plus efficace contre une attaque nucléaire. Toutefois, comme les grandes
puissances ne souhaitent, de par leur nature même, ni l’équilibre nucléaire ni aucun autre
équilibre, elles s’empressent de nos jours de perfectionner leurs moyens de détection
et de destruction des sous-marins et construisent, parallèlement, une panoplie toujours
plus grande de nouveaux armements nucléaires, en mettant au point ceux qu’elles pos-
sèdent déjà. Les sous-marins sont de moins en moins tributaires de leur propre capacité
de faire surface et de retourner à leur base, et les missiles ont un nombre croissant de
têtes nucléaires susceptibles d’être dirigiées de façon indépendante sur des objectifs
différents. En plus des sous-marins se développent des installations qui peuvent être
placées directement sur le fond des mers et des océans ou dans leur sous-sol.9

1.3. Le droit de la mer et les activités militaires

En parlant de l’utilisation de la mer à des fins pacifiques, nous avons déjà mentionné
la caractéristique fondamentale du droit de la mer au point de vue des activités militaires,
à savoir le faible nombre de règles particulières qui régissent ces activités. La Convention
des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer contient, certes, un peu plus de dispositions
sur ce point que les Conventions de Genève de 1958, mais l’on ne pourrait dire qu’elle
a éclairci toutes les questions essentielles de l’utilisation des espaces marins aux fins

8 M.T. KLARE, Superpower Rivalry at Sea, Foreign Policy, 1975-76, no 21, p. 86 et s.; S. TURNER, The
Naval Balance: Not Just a Numbers Game, Foreign Affairs, 1977, no 2, pp. 339 et s.; G.J. MANGONE,
Marine Policy for America, 1977, pp. 43-73.
9 Voir: Tactical and Strategic Antisubmarine Warfare, S.I.P.R.I., 1974; Armaments and Disarmament in the
Nuclear Age, S.I.P.R.I., 1976, pp. 90-96; sur le rôle du droit: D.P. O’CONNELL, The Influence of Law
on Sea Power, 1975; World Armaments and Disarmament, S.I.P.R.I. Yearbook 1979, pp. 329-452; D.
LARSON and P. TARPGAARD, Law of the sea and A.S.W.: national security versus arms control, Marine
policy, 1982, no 2, pp. 90-102.
164 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

militaires.10 Vu l’insuffisance du droit conventionnel général, nous devons souvent


essayer de trouver les réponses dans le droit coutumier ainsi que dans les traités internatio-
naux qui régissent certaines questions particulières, de portée restreinte.

A. Navires de guerre

1. Définition
La définition du navire de guerre de la Convention de Genève sur la haute mer (art. 8,
par. 2) a été reprise, avec de légères modifications, dans la Convention des Nations Unies
sur le droit de la mer (art. 29). Par “navire de guerre” on entend “tout navire qui fait
partie des forces armées d’un Etat, qui porte les marques extérieures distinctives des
navires de guerre de sa nationalité, qui est placé sous le commandement d’un officier
de marine au service de cet Etat, et dont l’équipage est soumis aux règles de la discipline
militaire”. Cependant, à la différence de la codification de Genève, alors que cette
définition ne concernait que la haute mer, elle s’applique désormais à l’ensemble de la
matière régie par la nouvelle convention. Cette définition restrictive du navire de guerre,
sur la base de quatre éléments formels, trouve son origine dans le souhait que le statut
de navire de guerre, lequel a certains droits particuliers en haute mer, soit accordé à un
nombre aussi restreint que possible de navires, à savoir seulement ceux pour lesquels
leurs Etats remplissent toutes les conditions formelles requises par le droit international.
Ladite définition est valable dans toute partie de la mer où se trouve le navire, y inclus
les lieux où les bâtiments de guerre, en raison de leur affectation, jouissent de moins
de droits que les autres navires. Il s’ensuit donc qu’en définissant les navires de guerre,
on n’aurait pas dû se fonder seulement sur des caractéristiques formelles du navire, telles
que le commandant et son équipage. Dans les rapports du navire de guerre avec l’Etat
côtier dans la mer territoriale duquel il se trouve, la “mission” qu’effectue le navire de
guerre joue un rôle essentiel pour la détermination de son statut. Aussi aurait-il été
opportun, nous semble-t-il, que la Conférence eût inséré également dans la définition
le caractère réel, fonctionnel, du navire, à savoir son appartenance effective à la marine
de guerre d’un Etat ou même, plus précisément, son affectation à une mission militaire
(existence d’équipements particuliers faisant présager une telle mission).

2. Immunités
La Convention sur le droit de la mer confirme les immunités des navires de guerre en
ce qui concerne le passage inoffensif dans la mer territoriale, en haute mer et dans la
zone économique exclusive (art. 32 et 95).

10 Voir: Security Aspects in the Law of the Sea Debate, World Armaments and Disarmament, S.I.P.R.I. Yearbook
1975, pp. 593-603; Military Issues in the Law of the Sea, Law of the Sea: Neglected Issues, Proceedings
Law of the Sea Institute Twelfth Annual Conference, octobre 23-26, 1978, La Haye, 1979, pp. 325-421.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 165

Dans le cadre des dispositions relatives à la protection et à la préservation du milieu


marin, il est prévu que celles-ci ne s’appliquent pas aux navires de guerre. Cependant,
on demande aux Etats de prendre des mesures appropriées n’affectant pas les opérations
ou la capacité opérationnelle de ces navires “de façon à ce que ceux-ci agissent, autant
que faire se peut, d’une manière compatible avec la Convention” (art. 236).
Enfin, malgré l’immunité des navires de guerre, l’Etat du pavillon porte la responsabi-
lité internationale de toute perte ou de tout dommage causé par son navire de guerre.
Ce principe est explicitement mentionné dans la Convention à propos du passage in-
offensif (art. 31), mais il est valable également à l’égard de toutes autres activités.

B. Activités militaires

1. Navigation et manœuvres navales


La constatation selon laquelle beaucoup de questions restent ouvertes dans la Convention
sur le droit de la mer de 1982 vaut précisément en ce qui concerne la navigation des
navires de guerre.
Les débats de la Conférence, de même que les dispositions de la partie II, section 3,
de la Convention, donnent l’impression que la troisième Conférence des Nations Unies
sur le droit de la mer a été plus explicite que la première Conférence, en confirmant que
les navires de guerre, tout comme les navires de commerce, jouissent du droit de passage
inoffensif dans la mer territoriale. Toutefois, les prises de position, les propositions et
les déclarations finales de beaucoup d’Etats côtiers confirment qu’il existe des différences
d’interprétation de la Convention quant au droit d’un Etat côtier de soumettre à autorisa-
tion ou à une notification préalable le passage des navires de guerre étrangers.11
En ce qui concerne le passage en transit dans les détroits servant à la navigation
internationale, il n’a pas été répondu de façon précise à la question du droit des sous-
marins de naviguer en plongée.12 De plus, on n’a pas non plus donné une définition
claire et nette des détroits auxquels s’applique le régime du passage inoffensif.
La liberté de navigation de tous les navires, y compris les navires de guerre, est
clairement confirmée dans la Convention pour la zone économique exclusive. Inclut-elle
cependant aussi le droit de la marine de guerre de faire des manœuvres navales dans

11 Voir les interventions: Roumanie (A/CONF.62/PV.189), Yémen démocratique et Yémen, doc. (XXI.6) C.N.7.
1983, Treaties-1 (Annex B), émanant du Secrétariat démocratique populaire de Corée (A/CONF.62/PV.192),
et les déclarations faites à l’occasion de la signature de la Convention à Montego Bay (Jamaïque), le 10
décembre 1982, par les délégations de Cap-Vert, Finlande, Iran, Roumanie, Soudan, Suède et Yémen, doc.
(XXI.6) C.N.7. 1983, Treaties-1 (Annex B), émanant du Secrétariat général des Nations Unies en sa qualité
de dépositaire.
12 Voir la discussion sur la navigation des sous-marins à travers les détroits entre W.M. REISMAN, The regime
of Straits and National Security: an Appraisal of International Law, et J. NORTON MOORE, The Regime
of Straits and the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, A.J.I.L., 1980, no 1, pp. 48-121.
166 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

une zone économique étrangère? Certains commentateurs déduisent l’existence de ce


droit de la disposition de l’art. 58, par. 1, de la Convention, selon laquelle, outre les
libertés de navigation et de survol, est également garantie “la liberté d’utiliser la mer
à d’autres fins internationalement licites liées à l’exercice de ces libertés et compatibles
avec les autres dispositions de la Convention”.13 Cependant, lors de la signature de la
Convention, certains Etats riverains ont déclaré qu’ils n’acceptaient pas cette interprétation
de l’art. 58 et qu’ils n’autoriseraient pas de manœuvres navales dans leur zones écono-
mique exclusive.14
Pour ce qui est de la haute mer, on n’a pas encore résolu le problème de la légalité
des manœuvres navales, ainsi que du lancement de missiles, en ce que ceux-ci empêchent
l’utilisation de grandes parties de la haute mer par d’autres Etats.15 Bien qu’il n’y ait
pas de règles ni de dispositions explicites conventionnelles régissant l’interdiction des
essais nucléaires en haute mer, nous sommes persuades que cette interdiction existe en
tant que principe coutumier (voir plus loin, section II, sous-section IV, division B).

2. Installations et ouvrages dans la zone économique exclusive


Les règles concernant la zone économique exclusive renferment une imprécision dans
le cas des installations et ouvrages envisagés dans cette zone. En effet, en vertu de l’art.
60, para. 1, “l’Etat côtier a le droit exclusif de procéder à la construction et d’autoriser
et réglementer la construction” de toutes les îles artificielles. Cependant, pour ce qui est
des installations et ouvrages, l’Etat côtier a ce droit exclusif seulement lorsque ces
installations et ouvrages sont “affectés aux fins prévues à l’article 56 ou à d’autres fins
économiques” ou “pouvant entraver l’exercice des droits de l’Etat côtier dans la zone”.
Estimant que le principe ainsi formulé pourrait laisser à des pays tiers la possibilité
de construire dans la zone d’un autre Etat – sans l’autorisation de celui-ci – des installa-
tions et ouvrages à des fins militaires, certains Etats côtiers ont proposé de donner à l’Etat
côtier le droit exclusif à l’égard de tous ouvrages et installations, comme dans le cas
des îles artificielles.16 Certaines puissances maritimes se sont opposées à cette modifica-
tion, et la véhémence avec laquelle elles ont repoussé le changement de l’art. 60, par. 1,
prouve qu’elles n’excluent pas la possibilité d’ériger des installations ou ouvrages à des
fins militaires dans des zones économiques étrangères.

13 Voir T. TREVES, Le nouveau régime des espaces marins et la circulation des navires, rapport pour la
Conférence “Les institutions face aux nouvelles données de la présence en mer”, Paris, 26-27-28 mai 1983,
p. 20.
14 Voir les déclarations du Brésil, du Cap-Vert et de l’Uruguay, doc. cité supra note 11.
15 Cf. Ch. ROUSSEAU, Droit international public, t. IV, Les relations internationales, 1980, pp. 315 et s.;
O.L. LISSITZYN, Electronic Reconnaissance from the High Seas and International Law, U.S. Naval War
College International Law Studies, vol. 61, 1980, pp. 563-571.
16 Voir les propositions officieuses du Pérou (C.2/Informal Meeting/9), du Brésil et de l’Uruguay (C.2/Informal
Meeting/11), du 27 avril 1978.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 167

3. Recherche scientifique marine


Le principe général de la Convention selon lequel la recherche scientifique marine doit
être menée à des fins exclusivement pacifiques (art. 240, a) se trouve répété dans les
art. 246 et 143 à propos de la recherche scientifique dans la zone économique exclusive,
sur le plateau continental et dans la Zone. L’application du principe de la recherche
scientifique à des fins pacifiques ne signifie pas nécessairement l’interdiction de l’emploi
de personnel ou de matériel militaire pour les recherches scientifiques. Il est cependant
clair que la présence de personnel ou de matériel militaire sera une raison permettant
à un Etat côtier de refuser son consentement à l’exécution d’un projet de recherche
scientifique par un autre Etat ou par une organisation internationale dans sa zone écono-
mique ou sur son plateau continental.

4. Règlement des différends


En ce qui concerne les “différends relatifs à des activités militaires, y compris les activités
militaires des navires et aéronefs d’Etats utilisés pour un service non commercial”, les
Etats ont le droit de ne pas accepter les procédures de règlement des différends aboutissant
à des décisions obligatoires (art. 298, par. 1, b). Cette disposition laisse cependant ouverte
la question de savoir si la navigation pratiquée par un navire de guerre est une “activité
militaire”.

2. LE DESARMEMENT ET LA MAITRISE DES ARMEMENTS NAVALS

2.1 Apercu historique

A. Le XIXème siècle
Premières limitations de la guerre
Le XIXème siècle, marqué, d’une part, par de nombreuses guerres opposant les grandes
puissances pour la domination de l’Europe et le partage des colonies et, d’autre part,
par des tentatives armées des peuples opprimés pour secouer le joug des grands, voit
les idées et les mouvements contre la guerre se faire jour. Les idées pacifistes conduisent
à la fondation de l’Institut de Droit International et de l’International Law Association
(1873), alors que les témoignages sur les souffrances des victimes de la guerre donnent
lieu aux premières conférences internationales ayant pour but de réglementer la guerre
(Genève, 1864 et 1868; Saint-Pétersbourg, 1868; Bruxelles, 1874). Les règles adoptées
à ces conférences se portent aussi, en partie, sur la guerre maritime (par ex. la Déclaration
de Saint-Pétersbourg du 11 décembre 1868 sur l’emploi des balles explosives).17 Cepen-
dant, la tentative pour adapter à la guerre maritime les règles de la Convention de Genève

17 Texte dans Les deux Conférences de la Paix, Rousseau, 1909, pp. 193-4.
168 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

du 22 août 1864 sur l’amélioration du sort des blessés dans les armées en campagne
échoua.18
Il convient de mentionner également dans le cadre de ce chapitre que quelques traités
– dont on parlera plus loin – conclus au XIXème siècle avaient pour but d’exclure la guerre
de certains espaces maritimes.

B. Les Conférences de Paix de La Haye de 1899 et 1907

1. Première Conférence
La réprobation de plus en plus grande de la guerre comme moyen de solution des
problèmes entre les Etats, ainsi que la forte augmentation des budgets militaires, dépassant
les forces économiques de certaines grandes puissances, aboutirent à la première Confé-
rence de paix de La Haye (1899).19 La Conférence devait examiner: la non-augmentation
des effectifs des forces armées de terre et de mer tout comme celle des budgets militaires;
l’interdiction de mettre au point de nouvelles armes; la limitation de certaines armes
existantes; l’adaptation de la Convention de Genève de 1864 à la guerre maritime; et
la solution pacifique des conflits internationaux.
A cette conférence fut signée la Convention pour le règlement pacifique des conflits
internationaux; de même furent acceptées de nombreuses règles concernant le droit de
guerre et fut adaptée à la guerre maritime la Convention de Genève de 1864. Par les
Déclarations qui faisaient partie de l’Acte final de la Conférence, furent interdits le
lancement de projectiles et d’explosifs du haut de ballons, l’emploi de projectiles ayant
pour but unique de répandre des gaz asphyxiants ou délétères, de même que l’emploi
de balles éclatant dans le corps humain, mais presque rien ne fut obtenu dans le domaine
du désarmement.20 En dépit de longues délibérations sur la trêve des armements, seuls
furent acceptés une résolution recommandant de limiter les charges militaires et un vœu
invitant les gouvernements à envisager la possibilité d’une entente en matière de limitation
des forces armées de terre et de mer et à limiter leurs budgets militaires. Un autre vœu
exprimait le souhait que les Etats examinent la question de l’introduction de nouveaux
types et calibres de fusils et de canons de marine en vue d’arriver à une entente au sujet
de ce problème. Les projets proposant à la Conférence de s’exprimer en faveur de
l’interdiction de l’emploi des torpilles et de certaines catégories de bâtiments de guerre
furent rejetés.

18 Texte dans L. LE FUR et G. CHKLAVER, Recueil des textes de Droit Inlernational Public, 1934, p. 71.
19 H. WEHBERG, La contribution des Conférences de la Paix de La Haye au progrès du droit international,
R.C.A.D.I., 1931, t. 37, pp. 533 et s.; J. BROWN SCOTT, Les Conférences de la Paix de ta Haye de 1899
et 1907, t. I et II, 1927.
20 Texte de l’Acte final dans LE FUR et CHKLAVER, op. cit., pp. 162 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 169

2. Deuxième Conférence
Comme la première Conférence de La Haye n’avait pas réussi à résoudre tous les pro-
blèmes considérés, elle proposa dans son Acte final la convocation d’une nouvelle
conférence. La deuxième Conférence de paix de La Haye, tenue en 1907, fut provoquée
par l’aggravation de la situation internationale, par la continuation de la course à l’arme-
ment et par le déclenchement de nouvelles guerres. Elle permit l’amélioration de la
Convention pour le règlement pacifique des conflits internationaux et l’adoption de
nouvelles règles de la guerre sur terre, ainsi que l’amélioration de la Convention de 1899
sur l’application des principes de la Convention de Genève de 1864 à la guerre maritime.
En ce qui concerne la guerre navale et les autres tâches qu’elle se proposait, la deuxième
Conférence de La Haye n’obtint qu’un succès partiel. Par la Xème Convention, les principes
de la Convention de Genève de 1906 furent adaptés à la guerre maritime, mais il n’y
eut pas d’accord général sur les règles de la guerre navale. Toutefois, certaines questions
de moindre importance furent réglées: le régime des navires de commerce ennemis au
début des hostilités (Convention VI); la transformation des navires de commerce en
bâtiments de guerre (Convention VII); la pose des mines sous-marines automatiques de
contact (Convention VIII); le bombardement par des forces navales en temps de guerre
(Convention IX); le droit de capture dans la guerre maritime (Convention XI); l’établisse-
ment d’une Cour internationale des prises (Convention XII). En outre, ont été codifiées
les règles sur les droits et les devoirs des puissances neutres en cas de guerre maritime
(Convention XIII).21
Toutes les autres questions ayant trait à la guerre navale furent réglées dans la
Déclaration navale de Londres de 1909. Celle-ci n’entra jamais en vigueur, mais elle
a toujours été considérée comme la codification de la coutume internationale.22
Les Conférences de La Haye ont permis de codifier quelques parties du droit inter-
national, y compris les règles relatives à la guerre navale. Mais, dans le domaine du
désarmement, rien ne fut possible. C’est ainsi que la deuxième Conférence adopta
seulement une résolution engageant les gouvernements à étudier sérieusement la question
de la limitation des charges militaires. Les puissances qui dictaient le comportement de
la communauté internationale d’alors acceptèrent les principes qui régissaient la guerre,
mais pas pour autant les restrictions quant au droit de mener la guerre ni les restrictions
relatives a l’armement. Lorsque la première guerre mondiale éclata, les préparatifs pour
la création du Comité préparatoire d’une troisième Conférence de La Haye étaient en
cours.

21 Ibid., pp. 174 et s.


22 Ibid., pp. 263 et s.
170 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

C. Traités de paix entre 1919 et 1923

1. Traité de Versailles
Les Traités de paix conclus avec les puissances centrales à la suite de la première guerre
mondiale comprennent bien des limitations quant aux forces militaires des Etats vaincus,
dont un certain nombre se rapportent aux forces navales, aux installations militaires et
aux côtes des Etats ayant perdu la guerre.23 C’est ainsi que l’on y trouve des clauses
sur la limitation des effectifs de la marine de guerre, sur le nombre, le déplacement et
la catégorie des bâtiments, de même que sur la démilitarisation de certaines îles et de
certains espaces côtiers.
En vertu de Traité de paix signé à Versailles le 28 juin 1919,24 on fixa à l’Allemagne
le nombre maximum de divers types de navires qu’elle pouvait posséder, le déplacement
maximum dans le cas de remplacement des bâtiments existants, les délais pour ce rem-
placement. L’Allemagne fut privée de sous-marins, même de commerce. Les principales
puissances alliées et associées devaient décider de la quantité permise d’armes, de
munitions et de matériel de guerre des navires.
Afin d’assurer l’accès dans la Baltique à tous les Etats, une zone fut déterminée,
avec des coordonnées géographiques précises, dans laquelle l’Allemagne ne pouvait
posséder aucune fortification, ni avoir aucune artillerie commandant les routes maritimes
entre la mer du Nord et la Baltique. En outre, la construction de nouvelles fortifications
fut interdite et l’armement de celles qui existaient déjà fut réduit dans toute la zone côtière
sur une profondeur de 50 km, ainsi que sur les îles allemandes du littoral.

2. Autres traités de paix


En vertu du Traité de paix signé avec les Alliés à Saint-Germain en Laye le 10 septembre
1919,25 l’Autriche était devenue un pays sans littoral; elle fut aussi privée de tous ses
navires de guerre. Certains croiseurs auxiliaires et bâtiments auxiliaires, une fois désarmés,
purent être utilisés comme navires de commerce.
La Hongrie, deuxième Etat sans littoral et née à la suite de la dissolution de
l’Autriche-Hongrie (Traité de paix conclu le 4 juin 1920 à Trianon),26 dut se soumettre
à des clauses presque identiques à celles acceptées par l’Autriche. En vertu du Traité
de paix signé le 27 novembre 1919 à Neuilly,27 la Bulgarie fut privée de tous ses navires

23 S. VEROSTA, Peace Treaties after World War I, in Encyclopedia of Public International Law, t. 4, 1982,
pp. 110 et s.
24 Texte dans LE FUR et CHKLAVER, op. cit., pp. 297 et s. Voir E. von PUTTKAMER, Versailles Peace
Treaty (1919), Encyclopedia of Public International Law, t. 4, pp. 276 et s.
25 Texte (abrégé) dans C.-A. COLLIARD, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, Documents choisis,
3e éd., t. I, 1955, pp. 474 et s.
26 Texte (abrégé) dans COLLIARD, op. cit., pp. 501 et s.
27 Texte (abrégé) dans COLLIARD, op. cit., pp. 493 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 171

de guerre, excepté un petit nombre indispensable au contrôle du trafic sur le Danube.


Le Traité de paix avec la Turquie fut signé le 24 juillet 1923 à Lausanne.28 En vertu
de l’article 13 de ce traité, le groupe d’îles de la mer Egée appartenant à la Grèce fut
démilitarisé.

D. Société des nations

1. Le Pacte
Dans le Pacte de la Société des Nations, les Etats membres soutenaient que le maintien
de la paix exigeait la réduction des armements “au minimum compatible avec la sécurité
nationale et avec l’exécution des obligations internationales imposées par une action
commune” (art. 8, par. 1). En vue de réaliser les tâches dans le domaine de la réduction
de l’armement et du désarmement, plusieurs comités furent créés au sein de la Société.
Dès 1925, on prépara également une Conférence pour le désarmement. Celle-ci se réunit
finalement en 1932, mais fut suspendue sans avoir abouti à un résultat.

2. Traité de Washington
Contrairement à l’échec au sein de la Société des Nations, un accord provisoire fut obtenu
en dehors d’elle quant aux restrictions de l’armement naval des puissances maritimes.
Le traité conclu à Washington le 6 février 192229 limita le tonnage total des marines
de guerre des cinq Etats contractants: la France, l’Italie, le Japon, la Grande-Bretagne
et les Etats-Unis, et détermina la proportion du tonnage de leur flottes, fixa les limites
de l’armement ainsi que le déplacement permis à certains types de navires.
Les limites décidées à Washington furent considérées comme un grand succès du
pacifisme et un pas sérieux sur la voie de désarmement. Cependant, tout cela fut possible
principalement parce que ces mesures convenaient à certaines puissances maritimes
épuisées sur le plan financier après la première guerre mondiale et, qui plus est, parce
que ces limites donnaient la possibilité de s’orienter vers des navires de guerre plus petits,
plus efficaces et plus rapides. Les limites arrêtées à Washington et dans certains autres
traités de cette époque n’empêchèrent pas les desseins agressifs de se manifester: le Japon
dénonca le Traité le 29 décembre 1934 et se mit à construire une grande marine de
guerre.30 Il fut prouvé au procès de Nuremberg que l’Allemagne avait violé, elle aussi,
les engagements acceptés.
Certains traités sur la guerre navale ont eu une importance plus durable. Un traité
sur ce sujet également conclu à Washington le 6 février 192231 ne fut pas ratifié, mais

28 Texte dans LE FUR et CHKLAVER, op. cit., pp. 752 et s.


29 Texte dans LE FUR et CHKLAVER, op. cit., pp. 714 et s.
30 Voir C.J. COLOMBOS, The International Law of the Sea, 5e éd., 1962, p. 24.
31 Texte dans M.O. HUDSON, International Legislation, vol. II, 1931, pp. 794 et s.
172 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

le Protocole de Londres, du 6 novembre 1936, concernant les règles de la guerre sous-


marine32 représente encore aujourd’hui le droit positif. Le Protocole de Genève, du 17
juin 1925, concernant la prohibition de l’emploi à la guerre de gaz asphyxiants, toxiques
ou similaires et de moyens bactériologiques33 se rapporte également à la guerre navale.

E. Traités de paix de 1947

1. Clauses navales
Les traités de paix conclus après la deuxième guerre mondiale (Paris, 10 février 1947)
comportent toute une série de clauses limitant de diverses façons les droits des Etats
vaincus en ce qui concerne l’usage de la mer aux fins militaires. Ces limitations touchent
le plus souvent les marines de guerre des pays en question, mais aussi des parties de
leur territoire, y compris des espaces maritimes.34
Dans les traités conclus avec la Bulgarie, la Finlande et la Roumanie,35 on souligne
que l’armement maritime (tout comme l’armement terrestre et aérien), de même que les
fortifications, se limitent aux tâches d’ordre intérieur et à la défense locale des frontières.
Les effectifs maximums de la marine de guerre et le tonnage total des navires y sont
précisés: pour la Bulgarie 3 500 personnes et 7 250 tonnes, la Finlande 4 500 personnes
et 10 000 tonnes, la Roumanie 5 000 personnes et 1 500 tonnes.
On interdit à ces Etats de posséder, de construire ou d’essayer “aucune arme atomique,
aucun projectile automoteur ou dirigé, ni aucun dispositif employé pour le lancement
de ces projectiles autre que les torpilles ou dispositifs de lancement de torpilles faisant
partie de l’armement normal des navires autorisés par le présent Traité, aucune mine
marine ou torpille fonctionnant par un mécanisme à influence, aucune torpille humaine,
aucun sous-marin ou autre bâtiment submersible, aucune vedette lance-torpille, ni aucun
type spécialisé de bâtiment d’assaut” (art. 13 du Traité avec la Bulgarie). Quant aux autres
moyens de guerre et à l’armement, les trois Etats se limitent aux quantités nécessaires
à l’équipement de leurs forces maritimes.

2. Traité de Paix avec l’Italie


En ce qui concerne l’Italie,36 les effectifs de la marine de guerre furent fixés à 25 000
officiers et marins. Dans l’annexe XII du Traité, on citait les bâtiments de guerre que
l’Italie pouvait conserver, les autres devant être remis aux Aliés. A ce pays il fut aussi
interdit de posséder des armes atomiques ainsi que les autres armes mentionnées dans

32 Texte dans HUDSON, op. cit., vol. VII, 1941, pp. 490 et s.
33 R.T.S.N., vol. XCIV, p. 65, et J.O.R.F., 29 août 1928, p. 9807.
34 Sur les clauses militaires des Traités de paix, voir G.G. FITZMAURICE, The juridical clauses of the peace
treaties, R.C.A.D.I., 1948, t. 73, pp. 318-323.
35 R.T.N.U., vol. 41, p. 21; vol. 48, p. 203; vol. 42, p. 3.
36 R.T.N U., vol. 49, p. 3.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 173

les traités avec les autres trois pays, à cette différence près que ces pays ne pouvaient
posséder aucun sous-marin ou autre bâtiment submersible, aucune vedette lance-torpille,
ni aucun type spécialisé de bâtiment d’assaut, tandis qu’on interdisait à l’Italie les canons
d’une portée supérieure à 30 kilomètres.
L’Italie s’engagea à démilitariser certaines îles et à démilitariser partiellement son
territoire le long de sa frontière avec la France et avec la Yougoslavie. Elle fut obligée
de démilitariser une bande côtière près de la frontière avec ces Etats, pour ne pas mettre
en danger leur territoire et leurs eaux territoriales. En Sicile et en Sardaigne, des mesures
de démilitarisation furent aussi décidées; par exemple, des mesures touchant l’artillerie
de défense des côtes de la Sardaigne furent prises en vue de la protection des eaux
territoriales françaises. Le territoire libre de Trieste fut aussi démilitarisé et proclamé
neutre.
Il était prévu que toutes les clauses navales demeureraient en vigueur aussi longtemps
qu’elles ne seraient pas modifiées partiellement ou entièrement par un accord entre les
Puissances Alliées et Associées et l’Etat en question ou bien par un accord entre ce
dernier et le Conseil de sécurité, après l’accès de cet Etat aux Nations Unies. Aucun
accord ne fut jamais conclu dans aucune de ces catégories.
Ajoutons que l’Italie, avec l’approbation de ses nouveaux alliés de l’O.T.A.N., se
considère, depuis 1951, comme libérée de toutes les limitations militaires (et navales)
imposées par ledit traité de paix.37

F. Nations unies

1. La Charte
Le maintien de la paix et de la sécurité internationale dans la nouvelle organisation
mondiale devait se fonder sur l’action commune des Etats membres, pouvant impliquer
l’emploi de la force sous la direction du Conseil de sécurité. Parallèlement à cette mission
principale, le Conseil de sécurité a pour tâche d’élaborer, avec l’aide du Comité d’état-
major, des plans de réglementation des armements et de désarmement éventuel. En ce
qui concerne l’Assemblée générale, il est dit dans la Charte qu’elle peut étudier les
principes généraux régissant le désarmement et la réglementation de l’armement et faire
des recommandations aux Membres de l’Organisation et au Conseil de sécurité dans ce
domaine.

37 Voir les échanges de notes entre l’Italie et la Grande-Bretagne (R.T.N.U., vol. 121, p. 89), la Nouvelle-Zélande
(R.T.N.U., vol. 150, p. 157), les Etats-Unis (R.T.N.U., vol. 167, p. 163) et l’Australie (R.T.N.U., vol. 190,
p. 222). Cf. G. VEDOVATO, La revisione del Trattato di Pace con l’Italia, Rivista di Studi Politici Internazio-
nali, 1974, no 3, 375 et s.
174 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

2. Les résultats
En dépit de la participation de nombreux organes des Nations Unies aux activités touchant
le désarmement, y compris les deux sessions spéciales de l’Assemblée générale consacrées
aux problèmes du désarmement, les résultats en sont très modestes. Ils le restent même
si l’on y associe les résultats des négociations des Etats membres qui ont été obtenus
en dehors de l’Organisation. Qui plus est, il est possible de conclure que, précisément
à l’époque des Nations Unies, l’humanité s’est montrée absolument incapable de contrôler
son armement. Même si on établit une comparaison avec les étapes précédents, le bilan
se montre tragiquement pauvre dans ce domaine:
– La course à l’armement le plus moderne n’est plus seulement l’obsession des grandes
puissances ou des Etats particulièrement agressifs ou menacés. La grande majorité
des Etats s’arment jusqu’aux limites extrêmes de leurs forces économiques et, souvent
aidés par des alliés, au-delà même de leurs possibilités réelles. C’est pourquoi un
nombre d’hommes et de moyens matériels toujours grandissant est consacré au
renforcement de l’armement, ce qui paralyse la communauté internationale dans son
développement.
– A côté de l’armement classique, l’armement nucléaire est, à notre époque, déjà très
développé et parfois employé. L’utilisation isolée de ces armes provoque déjà des
souffrances inimaginables jusqu’à nos jours; une véritable guerre nucléaire représente-
rait, elle, la fin de la civilisation et peut-être même de notre planète.
– Dans la rivalité stratégique, qui existe avant tout entre les superpuissances, tous les
endroits de la terre sont exploités – sa surface, son sous-sol, ses mers, sa couche
atmosphérique, et la course à l’armement se poursuit même dans l’espace extra-
atmosphérique. Dans le cadre de ce chapitre, il convient surtout de souligner que
l’équilibre des grandes puissances est fondé actuellement essentiellement sur les
missiles nucléaires installés à bord de sous-marins cachés dans les profondeurs
océaniques.
En raison du caractère inquiétant de ces développements, les textes de droit international
élaborés dans le cadre des Nations Unies et limitant certaines formes de la course à
l’armement doivent être considérés comme véritablement insignifiants. Les résolutions
des Nations Unies sur ces questions sont très nombreuses mais sont encore plus ignorées
par les grandes puissances que les résolutions adoptées dans d’autres domaines, tandis
que les traités dont on parle plus loin ne sont ratifiés, le plus souvent, que par les Etats
dont les efforts en vue de s’armer ne sont pas limités par la teneur des accords en
question.
A côté du travail accompli par l’Organisation des Nations Unies, il faut toutefois
noter de nouvelles conventions sur le droit humanitaire (Genève, 12 août 1949),38

38 R.T.N.U., vol. 75, p. 31.


VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 175

élaborées sous l’égide de la Croix-Rouge. Ces conventions ont été modifiées et complétées
par deux protocoles, signés à Berne le 12 décembre 1977.39
L’époque des négociations et de la détente entre les grandes puissances eut pour
résultat la conclusion d’accords bilatéraux entre l’Union soviétique et les Etats-Unis,
parmi lesquels les accords S.A L.T. sont estimés comme les plus importants. La période
de la détente aboutit à la Conférence sur la sécurité et la coopération en Europe, dont
l’Acte final (Helsinki, 1er août 1975) promettait beaucoup en matière de limitation de
la menace de guerre. Malheureusement, cet Acte solennel n’a pu empêcher les blocs
militaires d’enterrer la détente peu après sa signature, de recommencer la guerre froide
et de conduire l’humanité presque au seuil de la guerre.

2.2. Sources du droit

A. Les traités internationaux

1. Les Traités et les grandes puissances


Dans cette partie du droit de la mer – comme d’ailleurs dans tous les domaines du droit
international – les traités internationaux présentent des traits spécifiques qui se rencontrent
moins fréquemment dans d’autres matières. Ainsi, une place à part revient, dans l’établis-
sement de ces traités, aux puissances militaires et en particulier aux puissances nucléaires.
Elles règlent souvent par des conventions bilatérales des questions de fond intéressant
d’autres Etats; le contenu de bien des traités qui par la suite constitueront des conventions
multilatérales est négocié exclusivement entre les grandes puissances; celles-ci se réservent
le droit de contrôle et de modification de ces traités; elles se portent garantes des traités
dont elles ne seront même pas parties contractantes, etc.

2. “Régimes objectifs”
Parmi les traités dont nous aurons à nous occuper au présent chapitre, le problème des
effets des traités que la doctrine qualifie de traités régissant des “régimes objectifs” est
très actuel.40 En effet, bon nombre d’auteurs, dont la plupart sont des adeptes de la
doctrine de Scelle, adoptent le point de vue selon lequel certains traités établissant pour
l’objet qu’ils réglementent un régime juridique objectif concernent également les Etats
tiers. Sir Humphrey Waldock, rapporteur de la Commission du droit international, avait
même préconisé à cet égard l’introduction d’un article particulier relatif aux “régimes
objectifs” dans la Convention sur le droit de traités.41

39 Texte dans la Revue internationale de la Croix-Rouge, 1977, no 704-705, pp. 3 et s.


40 B. VUKAS, Relativno djelovanje medunarodnih ugovora, 1975, pp. 133-150.
41 Doc. A/CN.4/167, pp. 75-76.
176 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

M. Colliard explique les effets de tels traités à l’égard d’Etats tiers par le fait que
ces traités constituent un droit assumé par un groupe d’Etats qui, quant à un objet donné,
jouent le rôle de législateur international, si les règles qu’ils adoptent sont conformes
“au but propre du droit international” et au “droit positif objectif”.42
Parmi les traités représentant des “régimes objectifs”, on cite ceux qui ont trait à
la navigation dans les canaux et les détroits, à la démilitarisation et la neutralisation et
à l’exploitation d’espaces marins.
Quant aux effets des traités qui, selon la doctrine, représentent des “régimes objectifs”
et dont l’intérêt nous a paru considérable dans le contexte du présent chapitre, nous
sommes d’avis qu’il faut distinguer, d’un côté, les traités portant sur des espaces soumis
exclusivement à la compétence des contractants et, de l’autre, les traités par lesquels les
parties contractantes se mettent d’accord sur le régime d’espaces ne relevant pas entière-
ment ou nullement de leur souveraineté ou de leur juridiction.
Les traités qui définissent le régime d’un espace ressortissant à la compétence d’une
ou de plusieurs parties contractantes se fondent sur le droit du souverain territorial de
déterminer le statut juridique de son territoire en respectant les règles du droit international
général. Les effets de tels traités sur les Etats non contractants doivent être évalués à
partir des règles relatives aux dispositions in favorem et in detrimendum tertii.
La question se pose différemment lorsqu’il s’agit des traités par lesquels un groupe
d’Etats entendent fixer le régime d’un territoire qui n’est pas soumis à leur juridiction
– tels que l’Antarctique ou la haute mer en Amérique latine. Ces traités sont conclus
par un grand nombre d’Etats ou, le cas échéant, par ceux dont la participation paraît la
plus importante au regard de l’objet du traité. Cependant, quelle que soit l’autorité des
parties contractantes et si acceptables que puissent paraître les solutions conventionnelles
retenues, on ne saurait affirmer que ces traités lient effectivement un Etat tiers, notamment
lorsque celui-ci s’y oppose formellement. L’exemple nous est fourni par l’opposition
de la Chine et de la France, qui refusent de se voir liées par le Traité de Moscou sur
l’interdiction des essais nucléaires. De tels traités multilatéraux qui tendent à créer des
normes de droit général ne peuvent aboutir à cette fin que si leur contenu incite à la
création d’un droit coutumier général.

B. Les actes unilateraux

L’arrêt de la Cour internationale de Justice relatif aux essais nucléaires du 20 décembre


197443 a contribué à raffermir la conception de la promesse en tant qu’acte unilatéral
générateur d’obligations internationales.

42 C.A. COLLIARD, Institutions internationales, 5e éd., 1970, pp. 253-254.


43 C.I.J. Recueil 1974, pp. 253 et s. et 457 et s. Voir J. ANDRASSY, Povodom presude Medunarodnog suda
o nuklearnim pokusima, Rad Jugoslavenske akademije znanosti i umjetnosti, 1978, no 375, pp. 5 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 177

Dans le cas d’espèce, la Cour a confirmé la validité de la promesse donnée hors de


la Cour, même après la clôture du débat oral; elle a évalué son sérieux et sa portée en
tenant compte de plusieurs déclarations d’organes français visant toutes le même objectif,
à savoir la cessation d’essais nucléaires dans l’atmosphère.
Dans le cadre des considérations de ce chapitre, un autre acte unilatéral considéré
comme une promesse peut être cité. C’est la déclaration de l’Egypte sur le canal de Suez,
du 24 avril 1957.44 Par cette déclaration, l’Egypte confirme effectivement les obligations
qui lui sont fixées par la Convention de Constantinople de 1888. En outre, elle assume
d’autres obligations relatives à ses actions futures dans le cadre des nouvelles conditions
fixes pour la gestion nationale du canal.
Finalement, la déclaration de l’Union soviétique faite à la deuxième session spéciale
de l’Assemblée générale consacrée au désarmement au sujet de la renonciation unilatérale
de cet Etat à employer la première les armes nucléaires doit aussi être qualifiée de
promesse créant une obligation internationale.

C. Les actes des organisations internationales et des conférences internationales

1. Résolutions de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies


Outre les traités, les organisations internationales et les conférences internationales
adoptent différents actes qui sont d’un intérêt primordial dans l’optique de la matière
dont nous nous occupons. Bien entendu, il se pose également ici, en premier lieu, la
question des résolutions de l’Assemblée générale, particulièrement nombreuses en matière
de désarmement et de limitation des armements. Leur intérêt consiste avant tout en ce
qu’elles expriment les positions et les appréhensions de la grande majorité de l’humanité
en demandant aux grandes puissances de mettre en œuvre différentes mesures, à savoir:
cessation des essais nucléaires, conclusion de traités sur le désarmement, limitation de
l’armement nucléaire, établissement de zones dénucléarisées, etc. Il faut cependant noter
que de temps à autre l’Assemblée générale a formulé ses résolutions sous forme de
proclamations énonçant les principes de conduite valables tant pour l’Organisation dans
son ensemble que pour ses membres. Ainsi, par exemple, elle a proclamé “l’interdiction
permanente des armes nucléaires” en qualifiant l’utilisation de telles armes de “crime
contre l’humanité”.
Une telle position de l’Assemblée générale en matière d’armes nucléaires est justifiée
puisque par ces résolutions elle proclame l’interdiction d’armes qui sont, à notre avis,
déjà interdites par le droit coutumier. Cependant, étant donné les craintes des Etats, en
particulier des grandes puissances, de se voir, sans leur assentiment, imposer des limites
dans leurs efforts militaires, il ne serait pas exact d’affirmer que les résolutions de

44 R.T.N.U., vol. 265, p. 299.


178 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

l’Assemblée générale, même celles qui sont adoptées à une grande majorité, peuvent
constituer une source directe du droit international.

2. Acte final de Helsinki


Les différentes conférences internationales ayant lieu en dehors des Nations Unies
adoptent, elles aussi, des documents en matière de désarmement. A cet égard, l’appel
lancé par la VIIème Conférence des chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement des pays non alignés
est particulièrement significatif et dramatique. La nature de la plupart de ces actes est
claire: ils constituent des concertations politiques, des plans d’action des Etats participants
ou des appels adressés à d’autres Etats.
Citons cependant l’exemple de l’Acte final de la Conférence sur la sécurité et la
coopération en Europe, dont la nature a fait l’objet de nombreuses discussions, à commen-
cer par la question de savoir s’il s’agit ou non d’un traité international. Bien qu’il soit
évident que les Etats participants à la Conférence n’ont pas eu l’intention de conclure
un traité international – c’est pourquoi cet acte ne constitue pas un traité – , il n’en est
pas moins vrai qu’il contient de nombreuses règles de droit international.
En premier lieu, certaines clauses ne font qu’exprimer, déclarer le droit international
déjà existant (par exemple la déclaration sur les principes régissant les relations mutuelles
des Etats participants).
D’autres dispositions sont formulées de façon à constituer une promesse mutuelle
donnée par les Etats participants sur leur conduite future (p. ex. l’obligation de notification
préalable des manœuvres d’envergure). Si l’on se réfère à l’arrêt de la Cour internationale
de Justice qui reconnaît qu’une promesse unilatérale est susceptible de devenir un acte
générateur d’obligations pour l’Etat qui a fait la promesse, on n’a pas de raisons de douter
que la possibilité qu’une telle promesse collective – ou mieux un accord non formel dans
le cadre d’un acte général – soit considéré comme source de droits et d’obligations pour
les Etats européens.
Enfin, l’Acte final de Helsinki contient également de nombreuses clauses qui fixent
le plan d’une action future, les objectifs de la future coopération en Europe, les règles
de conduite des Etats, etc. Beaucoup de ces règles – qui ne sont en fait pas obligatoires –
sont susceptibles, dans une situation européenne plus favorable, d’aboutir à la création
d’un droit coutumier. Cependant, comme le processus à la C.S.C.E. se maintient à peine
en vie, il serait, pour le moment, trop risqué de conclure que l’une ou l’autre de ces
clauses serait déjà passée dans le droit coutumier.

D. Le droit coutumier

1. Généralités
Que les Etats non contractants puissent accepter les solutions adoptées par un (ou plus
d’un) traité à l’égard duquel ils sont tiers, est un fait qui trouve sa confirmation non
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 179

seulement dans la doctrine mais également dans l’arrêt du Tribunal militaire international
de Nuremberg dans une matière voisine de celle qui nous intéresse. Par cet arrêt, il a
été reconnu qu’à l’époque de son adoption, la IVème Convention de La Haye concernant
les lois et coutumes de la guerre sur terre de 1907 constituait un essai de révision des
lois et coutumes générales de la guerre existant alors, pour autant que les règles contenues
dans cette convention fussent reconnues en 1939 par toutes les nations civilisées, de sorte
que ces règles ont pu être considérées comme une preuve des lois et coutumes de la
guerre.45

2. Le désarmement en mer
Dans la matière dont nous nous occupons, il est également possible que des traités
internationaux ou des documents adoptés par des organisations internationales donnent
naissance à du droit coutumier, étant toutefois remarqué que la conclusion selon laquelle,
dans un tel cas, un droit coutumier s’est effectivement créé doit être formulée avec une
circonspection encore plus grande que dans d’autres domaines du droit international.
En effet, sur le plan de l’armement et du désarmement, les intérêts des Etats particuliers
et des groupes d’Etats sont très souvent tout à fait divergents; les Etats ne cherchent même
pas à cacher les différences qui les séparent, étant persuadés qu’il s’agit de questions
fondamentales de leur existence; au contraire, lorsqu’il est question de matières telles
que le droit des traités, le droit diplomatique et même la protection de l’environnement
ou les droits de l’homme, les intérêts de tous les Etats sont moins divergents; même s’il
y a différence d’intérêts, les Etats hésiteront à s’opposer ouvertement aux principes
préconisés par la majorité. Cependant, en matière de limitation des armements, la Chine
ou la France, par exemple, n’ont pas hésité à rendre publique leur position au sujet des
essais nucléaires, position qui a été très mal accueillie par l’opinion mondiale et qui
empêche que les interdictions prévues dans le Traité de Moscou (1963) puissent être
considérées comme faisant partie du droit général.

2.3. Mesures de désarmement et maitrise des armements navals


A. Limitation des effectifs de la marine de guerre et de son armement

1. Introduction
La limitation des forces navales a depuis toujours dépendu des grandes puissances. Celles-
ci imposaient de telles limitations aux Etats moins forts et, de temps à autre, elles en
acceptaient elles-mêmes. Les traités de paix imposent habituellement des limitations aux
Etats vaincus, affectant les effectifs des marines de guerre, le nombre, les catégories et
le tonnage des navires de guerre ainsi que leur armement et la possibilité de leur rem-

45 Voir L.B. SOHN, Cases and Other Materials on World Law, 1950, p. 1008.
180 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

placement. Dans les traités par lesquels les grandes puissances acceptent mutuellement
des limitations, l’élément essentiel réside dans la proportion respective du tonnage des
flottes.
Quant aux armes destinées à la guerre navale, de nombreux traités (dont certains
se rapportent également à la guerre sur terre) ont jusqu’à présent été conclus et ils sont
l’expression des efforts tentés en vue de limiter le commerce des armes, d’interdire leur
perfectionnement, de réglementer ou même d’interdire totalement l’utilisation de certaines
armes, d’interdire enfin toute possession de certaines espèces d’armes.
Toutefois, ces efforts n’ont que très incomplètement contribué à réduire le droit que
se reconnaissent les marines de guerre de se munir d’armes navales aussi modernes et
aussi efficaces que possible et d’en mettre au point de nouvelles. Dans la présente
division, il sera question uniquement de la limitation de l’armement classique; les efforts
déployés en vue d’une limitation des armes nucléaires feront l’objet d’une division
particulière.

2. Commerce des armes


A l’époque de l’expansion coloniale des puissances européennes dans certains territoires
extra-européens, il y eut des tentatives pour régler et limiter le commerce des armes sur
la base de traités internationaux. Cet état de choses a duré jusqu’à l’accession à l’indépen-
dance des pays de ces régions. Ainsi fut réglé par l’Acte de Bruxelles du 2 juillet 1890
le trafic des armes et des munitions dans certaines régions d’Afrique.46 Les clauses
concernant ce trafic furent remplacées par la Convention de Saint-Germain-en-Laye du
10 septembre 1919, relative au contrôle du commerce des armes et des munitions.47
L’objectif principal de cette convention a été d’établir “une surveillance spéciale du
commerce et de la détention des armes et des munitions” sur la quasi-totalité du territoire
africain et sur les régions d’Asie où se trouvaient des territoires sous mandat. Le droit
des Etats contractants d’exercer le contrôle s’étendait également à la haute mer et aux
eaux territoriales de la mer Rouge, du golfe d’Aden, du golfe Persique ainsi que de la
mer d’Oman. Faute d’un nombre suffisant de ratifications, la Convention n’entra pas
en vigueur. Ce fut aussi le cas de la Convention signée à Genève le 17 juin 1925,48
qui devait remplacer la Convention de 1919.
Actuellement, après l’écroulement des rapports coloniaux, il n’est plus possible qu’un
nombre restreint d’Etats limitent l’armement d’autres Etats. Toutefois, il est à regretter
qu’au sein des Nations Unies et dans le cadre des efforts visant au désarmement, une
attention suffisante ne soit pas accordée à la limitation du commerce des armes.

46 Voir COLOMBOS, op. cit., pp. 375-376.


47 Texte dans COLLIARD, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, 1955, t. 1, pp. 83 et s.
48 Texte dans HUDSON, op. cit., vol. III, 1931, p. 1634, et au R.T.S.D N., 94, 1929, p. 65.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 181

3. Limitation des armements


L’interdiction conventionnelle de certaines armes date encore des Conférences de Saint-
Pétersbourg et de La Haye, dont les résultats – mentionnés dans l’aperçu historique –
sont toujours en vigueur. En ce qui concerne la guerre maritime, les dispositions de la
Convention relative à la pose de mines sous-marines automatiques de contact méritent
une attention spéciale. Les mines automatiques de contact non amarrées doivent être
construites de manière à devenir inoffensives une heure au maximum après que l’Etat
qui les a placées en aura perdu le contrôle. Les mines automatiques de contact amarrées
doivent devenir moffensives dès qu’elles rompent leur amarres. Les torpilles doivent
devenir inoffensives lorsqu’elles manquent leur but. La Convention interdit de placer
des mines automatiques de contact devant les côtes et les ports de l’adversaire, dans le
seul but d’intercepter la navigation de commerce. A la fin de la guerre, les mines doivent
être enlevées.
Le Protocole concernant la prohibition de l’emploi, en temps de guerre, de gaz
asphyxiants, toxiques ou similaires et de moyens bactériologiques fut signé à Genève
le 17 juin 1925, et les interdictions imposées par le protocole furent complétées par la
Convention du 10 avril 1972 sur l’interdiction de la mise au point, de la fabrication et
du stockage des armes bactériologiques (biologiques) ou à toxines et sur leur destruc-
tion.49
Le 18 mai 1977 fut signée à Genève la Convention sur l’interdiction d’utiliser des
techniques de modification de l’environnement à des fins militaires ou toutes autres fins
hostiles,50 d’après laquelle est interdite “toute technique ayant pour objet de modifier
– grâce à une manipulation délibérée de processus naturels – la dynamique, la composition
ou la structure de la Terre, y compris ses biotes, sa lithosphère, son hydrosphère et son
atmosphère, ou l’espace extra-atmosphérique” (art. II) “ayant des effets étendus, durables
ou graves, en tant que moyens de causer des destructions, des dommages ou des pré-
judices à un autre Etat partie” (art. I, par. 1).
Outre la Convention sur l’interdiction ou la limitation de certaines armes classiques
qui peuvent être considérées comme produisant des effets traumatiques excessifs ou
comme frappant sans discrimination (New York, 10 avril 1980), trois protocoles ont été
conclus. En ce qui concerne notre sujet, des règles pertinentes peuvent être trouvées dans

49 Texte dans Arms Control: A Survey and Appraisal of Multilateral Agreements, p. 103 et s., et dans
COLLIARD et MANIN, Droit international et Histoire diplomatique, t. 1, 1975, p. 102. Voir également
G. FISCHER, Chronique du désarmement, A.F.D.I., 1971, pp. 85-130.
50 Texte dans R.G.D.I.P., 1977, I, pp. 329-398. Voir en outre Ph. BRETTON, La Convention du 10 avril 1981
sur l’interdiction ou la limitation de l’emploi de certaines armes classiques qui peuvent être considérées
comme produisant des effets traumatiques excessifs ou comme frappant sans discrimination, A.F.D.I., 1981,
p. 127 et s.
182 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

le Protocole I relatif aux éclats non localisables et le Protocole III sur les armes incendi-
aires.51
Enfin, force nous est de soulìgner certaines règles fondamentales du Protocole
additionnel aux Conventions de Genève du 12 août 1949 relatif à la protection des
victimes de conflits armés internationaux, à l’égard desquelles on peut affirmer qu’elles
représentent non seulement la codification mais aussi le développement progressif du
droit international:

“1. Dans tout conflit armé, le droit des parties au conflit de choisir des méthodes ou moyens
de guerre n’est pas illimité. 2. Il est interdit d’employer des armes, des projectiles et des matières
ainsi que des méthodes de guerre de nature à causer des maux superflus. 3. Il est interdit
d’utiliser des méthodes ou moyens de guerre qui son conçus pour causer, ou dont on peut
attendre qu’ils causeront, des dommages étendus, durables et graves à l’environnement naturel.”
(Art. 35).52

B. Espaces démilitarisés

1. Définition
Se fondant sur la pratique des Etats et la doctrine, on dit dans la nouvelle Encyclopédie
du droit international public que la démilitarisation “entails the obligation of a State under
international law not to station military forces, and not to maintain military installations,
in specified areas or zones of its territory, including territorial waters, rivers and canals
and the air space above”.53
Cette définition correspond, en général, aux engagements que les Etats prennent pour
démilitariser une partie de leur territoire; dans la doctrine, elle est parfois caractérisée
aussi comme une servitude militaire.54 Cependant, la véritable signification de la démili-
tarisation dans chaque cas particulier ne saurait être comprise que d’après l’acte internatio-
nal établissant la démilitarisation d’un territoire déterminé. Dans ces actes, on précise,
plus ou moins clairement, les engagements pris par les Etats par rapport au territoire
démilitarisé, les frontières du territoire auxquelles se rapporte la démilitarisation et les
Etats que la démilitarisation engage. Toutefois, la démilitarisation est souvent liée ou
confondue, dans ces actes, avec la neutralisation, c’est-à-dire avec l’obligation d’exclure
totalement un territoire déterminé, en cas de guerre, du théâtre de la guerre.
Le contenu de la démilitarisation va de l’interdiction de toute force ou installation
militaire sur un territoire jusqu’à l’élimination de certaines armes ou fortifications seule-
ment ou à la limitation des effectifs des forces armées. Actuellement, les efforts visant

51 International Legal Materials, Vol. XIX, No. 6, 1980, pp. 1523, 1529 and 1534.
52 Revue internationale de la Croix-Rouge, 1977, nos 704-705, pp. 35-36.
53 J. DELBRICK, Demilitarization in Encyclopedia of Public International Law, t. 3, p. 150 et s.
54 Cf. J. ANDRASSY, Medunarodno pravo, 7e éd., 1978, p. 224.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 183

à démilitariser de grands espaces, englobant les territoires d’un grand nombre d’Etats
et les espaces situés en dehors des limites de la juridiction nationale, prennent de plus
en plus d’importance; la démilitarisation lie, dans ces cas, un grand nombre d’Etats ou
même tous les Etats.

2. Démilitarisation et espaces marins


Vu l’objet de la présente étude, il importe de souligner que, dans certains actes établissant
la démilitarisation, on ne répond pas de façon suffisamment claire à la question de savoir
dans quelle mesure la démilitarisation d’un territoire donné s’étend aux espaces marins
voisins. C’est ainsi que l’on ne précise pas toujours si, et dans quelle mesure, la démilita-
risation des îles se rapporte à la mer adjacente. De toute façon, même si cette question
n’est pas traitée à part, la démilitarisation des îles implique toujours celle des ports, des
bases navales, ainsi que des autres parties de la mer étroitement liées aux îles elles-mêmes.
De façon générale, force nous est de conclure qu’il est nécessaire de prendre en considéra-
tion, en plus du texte du traité lui-même, toutes les circonstances qui ont mené à démilita-
risation, le contenu du droit international général, et avant tout celui du droit de la mer,
valable au moment de la conclusion du traité dont il s’agit, afin de pouvoir établir dans
quelle mesure la démilitarisation d’une partie donnée du continent s’applique également
à la mer. Nous nous en tiendrons aux cas de démilitarisation où il est évident qu’elle
se rapporte aussi, au moins partiellement, à la mer, en tenant compte des règles que l’on
peut considérer comme faisant partie du droit international positif.

§1 – Les îles

1. Les îles d’Åland


Dans le passé, comme le fait remarquer Quéneudec, à part la démilitarisation des zones
frontalières, ce sont des traités portant le plus souvent sur la démilitarisation des îles
qui ont été conclus.55 C’est ainsi que le 30 mars 1856, en annexe au Traité de paix de
Paris, fut conclue une Convention entre la France, la Grande-Bretagne et la Russie sur
la neutralité des îles d’Åland dans laquelle les trois monarques déclaraient que “les îles
d’Åland ne seront pas fortifiées et qu’il n’y sera maintenu ni créé aucun établissement
militaire ou naval” (art. 1er).56 Après la première guerre mondiale, le Conseil de la
Société des Nations reconnut la souveraineté de la Finlande sur les îles d’Åland, sous
condition de les neutraliser et de ne pas les fortifier.57 Une nouvelle Convention fut
conclue (Genève, 20 octobre 1921) qui complétait la Convention de 1856.58 A part

55 QUÉNEUDEC, op. cit., p. 241.


56 Texte dans COLLIARD et MANIN, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, 1970, t. II, p. 26.
57 Texte de la recommandation du Conseil de la S.D.N. du 25 juin 1921, ibid., p. 72.
58 Texte ibid., p. 73.
184 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

l’interdiction de toute installation militaire et navale, il était stipulé qu’“aucune force


militaire, navale ou aérienne d’aucune Puissance” (art. 4) ne pouvait entrer dans la zone
des îles d’Åland. Une seule exception était permise: les visites périodiques des navires
de guerre légers de surface finlandais. Les navires de guerre étrangers avaient la liberté
du passage inoffensif à travers les eaux territoriales, mais la Finlande ne pouvait accorder
le droit d’entrer et de mouiller dans l’archipel qu’à un seul navire de guerre de toute
autre puissance. En cas de guerre, l’archipel serait considéré comme zone neutre, mais
la Finlande aurait le droit de prendre les dispositions d’ordre maritime nécessaires en
vue de protéger cette neutralité.
Le Traité entre la Finlande et l’Union soviétique du 11 octobre 1940 confirma la
démilitarisation des îles d’Åland. En se fondant sur l’article 12 du Traité de paix avec
la Finlande de 1947, l’Union soviétique fit savoir à ce pays, le 13 mars 1948, que ce
traité restait en vigueur.59 Cependant, le Traité de paix avec la Finlande confirma lui-
même la démilitarisation des îles d’Åland: “Les îles d’Åland demeureront démilitarisées
comme elles le sont actuellement” (art. 5).60

2. Autres îles
La démilitarisation et la neutralisation, établies par le Traité de Londres du 14 novem-
bre 1863, furent limitées aux îles de Corfou et de Paxos par le Traité du 29 mars 1864.61
En vertu de l’article 115 du Traité de paix de Versailles, l’Allemagne devait détruire
les fortifications, les établissements militaires et les ports des îles de Héligoland et de
Dune, à l’intérieur d’une zone déterminée par des coordonnées géographiques; elle n’avait
pas le droit de reconstruire les ouvrages détruits ou analogues.
Le 9 février 1920, à Paris, fut signé le Traité relatif à l’archipel du Spitsberg,62
actuellement encore en vigueur. La Norvège, à qui la souveraineté sur les îles de Spitsberg
avait été donnée à la suite de ce traité s’engageait à ne pas créer de bases navales sur
ces îles et à ne le permettre à personne d’autre. En outre, la construction de fortifications
fut interdite sur ces îles, qui ne pourraient jamais être utilisées dans des buts de guerre.
Tous ces engagements se rapportaient à une zone déterminée par ses cordonnées géo-
graphiques.

3. Traités de paix de 1947


En ce qui concerne l’ampleur de la démilitarisation, le Traité de paix de 1947 avec l’Italie,
qui démilitarisait certaines îles italiennes (Pantellaria, les îles Pélage, Pianosa – art. 49),

59 Cf. ANDRASSY, Medunarodno pravo, note 4 à la p. 224.


60 R.T.N.U., vol. 48, p. 233.
61 Voir M. SIBERT, Traité de droit international public, 1951, t. I, p. 401.
62 Texte dans HUDSON, op. cit., vol. I, 1931, p. 436 et s. et dans R.T.S.N., 1920, II, p. 8. Voir B. BROMS,
The Demilitarization of Svalbard (Spitsbergen), Essays in Honour of Eric Castrén, 1979, pp. 6 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 185

ainsi que les îles cédées à la Yougoslavie (Pelagosa – art. 11) et à la Grèce (les îles du
Dodécanèse – art. 14) est très précis. A l’annexe XIII du Traité sont données les défini-
tions des termes “démilitarisation” et “démilitarisé”. Aux fins du Traité, ces termes
“doivent s’entendre comme interdisant, sur le territoire et dans les eaux territoriales en
cause, toutes installations et fortifications navales, militaires ou d’aviation militaire ainsi
que leurs armements, les obstacles artificiels, militaires, navals ou aériens; l’utilisation
de bases par des unités militaires, navales ou d’aviation militaire ou le stationnement
permanent ou temporaire de ces mêmes unités; l’instruction militaire sous toutes ses
formes et la fabrication du matériel de guerre. Cette interdiction ne vise pas le personnel
de sécurité intérieure limité en nombre à l’exécution de tâches de caractère intérieur et
pourvu d’armes qui peuvent être transportées et servies par une seule personne, ainsi
que l’instruction militaire nécessaire à un tel personnel”.63 (Cette définition ne s’applique
pas aux mesures de démilitarisation partielle en Sicile et en Sardaigne.)
Toutefois, comme nous l’avons mentionné (p. 173), l’Italie se trouve libérée, par
ses alliés d’après-guerre, de toutes les clauses militaires, navales et aériennes du Traité
de paix, de sorte que l’obligation de démilitariser les îles italiennes est remise en question.
Cette incertitude doit évidemment se refléter dans le statut de la démilitarisation des îles
que la Grèce et la Yougoslavie ont acquises grâce à ce traité et qui sont aussi démilita-
risées.64

§2 – Les détroits

1. Détroits turcs
Afin d’assurer la liberté de navigation, et encore plus à cause des intérêts stratégiques
des grandes puissances maritimes, on insère fréquemment dans les traités des dispositions
sur la démilitarisation (neutralisation) des voies de navigation reliant deux parties de la
haute mer, c’est-à-dire des détroits et des canaux.
Déjà par l’accord conclu entre les grandes puissances européennes et la Turquie le
15 juillet 1840,65 on interdisait aux navires de guerre étrangers d’entrer dans les détroits
du Bosphore et des Dardanelles, tant que la Turquie était en paix. Cette interdiction fut
confirmée par la Convention sur la fermeture des détroits du 13 juillet 184l,66 avec pour
seule exception le droit du sultan de permettre le passage de bâtiments légers naviguant
sous un pavillon de guerre mais au service des ambassades de puissances amies. Ce

63 R.T.N.U., vol. 49, pp. 113-114.


64 Cf. Ph. DRAKIDES, Le sort actuel des démilitarisations en Méditerranée (Italie, Grèce), Revue Hellénique
de Droit International, 1977, no 1-4, p. 42 et s.
65 Texte dans MARTENS, Nouv. rec. gén., I, 156.
66 Texte ibid., II, 128.
186 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

régime des détroits fut confirmé par la Convention sur les détroits figurant en annexe
au Traité de paix de Paris, du 30 mars 1856, qui neutralisait la mer Noire.67
Bien qu’avec le Traité de Londres sur la mer Noire, du 13 mars 1871,68 on renonçât
à la neutralisation de celle-ci, la fermeture des détroits aux navires de guerre resta en
vigueur, le sultan étant cependant autorisé à ouvrir les détroits, en temps de paix, aux
navires de guerre des puissances amies et alliées si la Turquie le considérait comme
nécessaire pour assurer la mise en application des dispositions du Traité de Paris de
1856.69 L’article 13 du Traité de Berlin, du 13 juillet 1878, confirma le régime des
détroits en vigueur jusqu’alors.
Le 24 juillet 1923 fut conclue à Lausanne une convention sur le régime des dé-
troits,70 établissant la liberté complète de passage, y compris celle des navires et des
aéronefs de guerre. La seule limitation pour ceux-ci consistait en ce que la flotte d’un
Etat qui serait plus grande que la flotte du plus puissant Etat de la mer Noire ne pourrait
pas passer par les détroits en direction de la mer Noire. Cette limitation était valable même
en temps de guerre, tant que la Turquie restait neutre. La Convention ordonnait la
démilitarisation des côtes, des détroits et des îles avoisinantes ainsi que de celles se
trouvant dans la mer de Marmara. En cas de guerre, si la Turquie restait neutre, les
belligérants ne pouvaient commettre d’actes de guerre dans la zone des détroits.71
La Convention de Lausanne fut remplacée par la convention conclue à Montreux
le 20 juillet 193672 et qui règle aujourd’hui encore le régime des détroits. Par cette
convention, on renonça à la démilitarisation des côtes et des îles à proximité des détroits.
Le passage des navires de guerre étrangers se trouve considérablement restreint (en
nombre et en tonnage), mis à part le traitement plus favorable dont jouissent les Etats
côtiers de la mer Noire; en tout état de cause, le passage doit toujours être annoncé à
la Turquie par voie diplomatique. Le passage est interdit aux sous-marins, exception faite
pour les sous-marins des Etats côtiers de la mer Noire. Le survol des avions de guerre
non plus n’est pas permis. En cas de guerre, si la Turquie reste neutre, le passage des
navires des Etats belligérants est interdit, à quelques exceptions près. Si la Turquie est
en guerre, les navires des Etats lui faisant la guerre n’ont pas le droit au passage.

2. Autres détroits internationaux


Certaines mesures de démilitarisation et de neutralisation ont été prévues pour deux autres
détroits. La déclaration du 8 avril 1904 de la Grande-Bretagne et de la France73 engage

67 Texte ibid., XV, p. 770 et s.


68 Texte ibid., XVIII, p. 303 et s.
69 Voir ROUSSEAU, op. cit., p. 411.
70 Texte dans LE FUR et CHKLAVER, op. cit., p. 821 et s.
71 V.A. ROUGIER, La question des détroits et la convention de Lausanne, R.G.D.I.P., 1924, p. 309 et s.
72 Texte dans COLLIARD, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, p. 96 et s.
73 Texte dans MARTENS, Nouv. rec. gén., 2ème série, vol. XXXII.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 187

les contractants à ne pas permettre la fortification de la côte marocaine à proximité du


détroit de Gibraltar, afin d’assurer le passage à travers le détroit. A cette déclaration
l’Espagne s’associa par la convention signée avec la France le 27 novembre 1912.74
L’Argentine et le Chili signèrent, le 23 juillet 1881, un traité qui les engageait à ne
pas élever de fortifications sur les côtes du détroit de Magellan, à ne pas y exercer d’actes
de guerre et à respecter la liberté de navigation à travers cette voie maritime.75

§3 – Les canaux internationaux

1. Le canal de Suez
L’internationalisation et la neutralisation du canal de Suez furent instituées par la Conven-
tion de Constantinople du 29 octobre 1888.76 Les navires de commerce ou de guerre
jouissaient du droit de libre passage en temps de guerre comme en temps de paix, mais
il était interdit de maintenir des bâtiments de guerre dans les eaux du canal. La Conven-
tion prévoyait le libre passage pour les navires de guerre des belligérants, même si la
Turquie (suzerain égyptien d’alors) était en guerre (art. IV). Cette disposition ne contre-
disait pas seulement la logique mais aussi l’article X de la Convention, qui permet
l’adoption de mesures nécessaires à la défense de l’Egypte et au maintien de l’ordre
public, de sorte que l’on ne pourrait pas, en raison du caractère anachronique de l’article
IV, exiger actuellement de l’Egypte de tolérer le passage des Etats en guerre avec elle.
Les Etats contractants s’engageaient à ne commettre aucun acte d’hostilité dans le
canal et ses ports d’accès, ni dans un rayon de trois milles marins de ces ports.

2. Le canal de Panama
La neutralisation et la non-fortification du canal traversant l’Amérique centrale ont été
établies avant le commencement de sa construction, par le Traité Clayton-Bulwer, du
19 avril 185077 puis par deux Traités Hay-Pauncefote, datant du 5 février 190078 et
du 18 novembre 1901;79 tous ces traités étaient conclus entre la Grande-Bretagne et
les Etats-Unis. Finalement, le Panama ayant acquis son indépendance, les Etats-Unis
conclurent avec l’Etat nouvellement créé le Traité Hay-Bunau-Varilla, du 18 novembre
1903,80 qui s’appliqua après l’ouverture du canal de Panama en 1914. Les règles figurant
dans la Convention de Constantinople entraient en ligne de compte comme règles de
base pour la neutralisation du canal de Panama; mais la différence essentielle par rapport

74 Texte dans de MARTENS, Nouveau Recueil général des Traités, 3ème série, t VII, p. 323 et s.
75 Texte dans de MARTENS, Nouveau Recueil général des Traités, 2ème série, t. XII, p. 491 et s.
76 Texte dans COLLIARD, op. cit., p. 106 et s.
77 Voir ROUSSEAU, op. cit., p. 576.
78 Voir ANDRASSY, Medunarodno pravo, p. 199.
79 Texte dans COLLIARD, op. cit., p. 109.
80 Texte dans COLLIARD, op. cit., p. 112 et s.
188 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

au canal de Suez était le droit de maintenir des troupes et de fortifier le canal dont béné-
ficiaient les Etats-Unis dans la zone du Canal sous leur administration et qui leur per-
mettait de construire des bases navales et aériennes.81
Au cours des décennies suivantes, le Panama fit des efforts pour changer sa situation
de dépendance à l’égard des Etats-Unis en ce qui concerne le Canal.82 Il n’obtint satis-
faction qu’avec les traités du 7 septembre 1977. Un de ces traités porte sur la neutralisa-
tion permanente du canal. Les navires de guerre conservent le droit de passage, mais
celui-ci doit s’effectuer aussi promptement que possible. Dans le Canal, les actes d’hosti-
lité sont interdits. Un autre accord, conclu ultérieurement (Washington, 14 octobre 1977),
dispose que les Etats-Unis n’interviendront pas dans les affaires intérieures du Panama,
tout en leur reconnaissant “le droit d’agir contre toute agression ou menace dirigée contre
le Canal ou contre le passage pacifique des navires à travers le Canal”.83

3. Le canal de Kiel
Par le Traité de paix de Versailles, le canal de Kiel fut internationalisé et ouvert aux
navires de guerre et de commerce. Dans l’affaire du “Wimbledon”, la Cour Permanente
de Justice Internationale, dans son arrêt du 17 août 1923, confirma l’obligation de
l’Allemagne de laisser passer les navires même s’ils transportaient des matériaux de guerre
destinés à des belligérants.84
Etant donné que l’Allemagne a dénoncé unilatéralement toutes les clauses fluviales
des traités de paix (le 14 novembre 1936), il existe diverses réponses à la question de
savoir si les dispositions du Traité de Versailles sont toujours en vigueur. Nous considé-
rons comme plus juste l’interprétation de Symonides et de quelques autres auteurs
soutenant que ces dispositions relèvent encore du droit international positif.85

§4 – La mer

1. Introduction
La démilitarisation de la mer Noire par le Traité de Paris de 1856 est le seul exemple
de démilitarisation conventionnelle d’une mer.86 En vertu de ce traité, la Turquie et
la Russie renonçaient au droit d’avoir sur les côtes de la mer Noire des arsenaux militaires
et navals et de posséder des navires de guerre, excepté quelques navires de guerre

81 Voir ROUSSEAU, op. cit., p. 579 et s.


82 Texte dans International Legal Materials, 1977, no 5, p. 1021 et s., et dans COLLIARD et MANIN,
Documents de droit international et d’histoire diplomatique. 1979, 2, pp. 208-213.
83 Texte dans R.G.D.I.P., 1978, p. 279.
84 Vapeur Wimbledon, arrêts, C.P.J.I., 1923, série A, no 1.
85 J. SYMONIDES, Obowiazywanie postanowien traktata wersalskiego doticzacych Kanalu Kilonskiego,
Technika i gospodarska morska, 1967, p. 244 et s.
86 Texte dans FLEISCHMANN, op. cit., p. 50.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 189

seulement, nécessaires au service côtier. L’accès des eaux et des ports de la mer Noire
était interdit aux navires de guerre étrangers.
A la différence de ce cas de démilitarisation comme moyen de solution des rapports
politiques entre les grandes puissances, on tend aujourd’hui à exclure certains espaces
marins de la course aux armements, dans ce but, on y interdit certaines activités militaires
ou l’emploi de certaines armes. A cet égard, les résultats les plus importants sont obtenus
dans le cas de la mer adjacente à l’Antarctique et des fonds marins.

2. L’Antarctique
Bien que le Traité sur l’Antarctique, signé à Washington le 1er décembre 1959, n’emploie
pas directement le terme “démilitarisation”, la démilitarisation fut, sans aucun doute, un
des buts essentiels des Etats contractants qui s’engageaient à utiliser l’Antarctique
uniquement à des “fins pacifiques”.87 Or l’obligation d’utiliser un espace exclusivement
à des fins pacifiques ne peut être interprété dans ce traité de la même façon que dans
d’autres actes internationaux dans lesquels cette obligation n’est pas incompatible avec
la présence de forces militaires et de toutes sortes d’armes (par ex. l’art. 88 de la Conven-
tion des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer). Le sens de l’obligation d’utiliser l’Ant-
arctique exclusivement à des “fins pacifiques” est précisé dans le Traité par des exemples
d’activités qui ne sont pas permises et il s’agit justement des activités qui font l’objet
des traites internationaux sur la démilitarisation. On interdit “entre autres, toutes mesures
de caractère militaire telles que l’établissement de bases, la construction de fortifications,
les manœuvres, ainsi que les essais d’armes de toutes sortes” (art. I, par. 1). Toutefois,
on admet l’emploi de personnel ou de matériel militaires pour la recherche scientifique
ou pour toute autre fin pacifique, ce qui montre que la démilitarisation de l’Antarctique
n’est pas complète.
Le Traité sur l’Antarctique et, partant, également ses règles sur la démilitarisation
s’appliquent “à la région située au sud du 60ème degré de latitude sud, y compris toutes
les plates-formes glaciaires” (art. VI). Cependant, c’est précisément au sujet de l’applica-
tion des dispositions du Traité aux espaces marins à l’intérieur de cette région que nous
trouvons, dans le même article VI, une réserve exprimée en ces termes:

“Rien dans le présent Traité ne pourra porter préjudice ou porter atteinte en aucune façon aux
droits ou à l’exercice des droits reconnus à tout Etat par le droit international en ce qui concerne
les parties de haute mer se trouvant dans la région ainsi délimitée.”

Par conséquent, les mesures de démilitarisation qui engagent les contractants dans
l’Antarctique continental ne sauraient s’appliquer à la haute mer si elles s’opposent aux

87 Cf. C.C. JOYNER, Antartica and the Law of the Sea: Rethinking the Current Dilemmas, San Diego Law
Review, 1981, no 3, p. 420.
190 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

libertés dont jouissent tous les Etats en haute mer. C’est ainsi que tous les Etats ont le
droit d’effectuer des manœuvres militaires au sud du 60ème degré de latitude sud en
haute mer, ainsi que d’exécuter des essais avec des armes classiques. Il s’ensuit que ni
la liberté de navigation ni le survol de la haute mer ne sauraient être mis en cause pour
les navires et les aéronefs de guerre indépendamment de ce qu’ils servent à des essais
scientifiques ou à d’autres fins pacifiques, ce qui est la condition requise pour l’admission
de la présence de personnel et de l’équipement militaires dans l’Antarctique même.
Toutefois, une question se pose encore à propos de l’application de la réserve formulée
dans l’article VI: où commence la haute mer par rapport aux côtes de l’Antarctique?
Les positions prises par les Etats et la doctrine ne donnent pas de réponse nette à cette
question.88 Nous estimons qu’il convient de distinguer, dans le cas de l’Antarctique,
bien qu’il n’y ait pas d’Etats côtiers au vrai sens du mot, entre la bande côtière de mer
et la haute mer, où tous les Etats ont les mêmes droits. Les Etats présents dans l’Antarc-
tique doivent assumer une plus grande responsabilité en ce qui concerne le régime
juridique dans la zone côtière. Les Etats contractants eux-mêmes semblent approuver
cette position. A leur troisième réunion consultative, tenue à Bruxelles en 1969, ils ont
adopté la recommandation III-8, établissant les “mesures convenues pour la protection
de la faune et de la flore dans l’Antarctique”. Sur la base de l’article VII, par. 3, de ces
mesures, A. van der Essen conclut que l’Antarctique a une mer territoriale, car cette
disposition prévoit ceci:

“Les gouvernements participants prendront toutes les mesures raisonnables pour réduire la
pollution des eaux proches de la côte ou des plates-formes glaciaires.”89

3. Le fond des mers


Nous examinerons en détail, plus loin, dans la division sur la dénucléarisation, un
deuxième traité international qui démilitarise, en partie, les espaces marins, car son objectif
essentiel est d’interdire les armes’ nucléaires sur le fond des mers. Toutefois, le Traité
du 11 février 1971 interdisant de placer des armes nucléaires et d’autres armes de
destruction massive sur le fond des mers et des océans ainsi que dans leur sous-sol se
propose d’empêcher que soient placés sur le fond des mers, non seulement des armes
nucléaires, mais aussi “les autres types d’armes de destruction massive, non plus
qu’aucune construction, installation de lancement ou autre installation expressément
conçue pour le stockage, les essais ou l’utilisation de telles armes” (art. 1, par. 1). Le
Traité ne précise pas quelles sont les armes qui, avec les armes nucléaires, figurent dans
la catégorie “des armes de destruction massive”. En premier lieu, doivent être considérées

88 Voir JOYNER, op. cit., p. 427 et s.


89 A. van der ESSEN, L’Antarctique et le Droit de la Mer, Revue iranienne des relations internationales, 1975-
76, nos 5-6, p. 92 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 191

comme telles les armes bactériologiques (biologiques) et chimiques, mais aussi toutes
les autres “dont il n’est pas possible de contrôler l’application, ni de limiter l’activité
dans le sens aussi bien temporel que spatial de façon qu’elles aboutissent à la destruction
massive de tout être vivant, à des destructions disproportionnées par rapport au but que
l’on désire atteindre” (S. Avramov).90 L’interdiction d’installer des armes de destruction
massive vaut pour les fonds et le sous-sol des mers à partir d’une ligne, éloignée de douze
milles de la ligne de base, servant de point de départ pour mesurer la largeur de la mer
territoriale.

2.4. La dénucléarisation de la mer

A. Limitation et interdiction des armes nucléaires

§1 – Interdiction de l’emploi de l’armement nucléaire

1. Institut de Droit International


L’Institut de Droit International adopta, le 9 septembre 1969, une résolution dans laquelle
est exprimée la position suivante:

“Est interdit par le droit international en vigueur l’emploi de toutes les armes qui, par leur nature,
frappent sans distinction objectifs militaires et objectifs non militaires, forces armées et popula-
tions civiles. Est interdit notamment l’emploi des armes dont l’effet destructeur est trop grand
pour pouvoir être limité à des objectifs militaires déterminés ou dont l’effet est incontrôlable
(armes “autogénératrices”), ainsi que des armes aveugles.”91

Selon l’opinion du rapporteur de l’Institut, le baron von der Heydte, cette interdiction
se rapporte aux armes nucléaires, chimiques et bactériologiques.92

2. L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies


L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a déclaré par sa résolution 1653 (XVI) du 24
novembre 1961 que l’emploi de l’armement nucléaire viole la Charte et les règles
générales du droit international et qu’il constitue un crime contre l’humanité. Par sa
résolution 2936 (XXVII) du 29 novembre 1972, l’Assemblée a proclamé l’interdiction
permanente de l’utilisation de l’armement nucléaire.

90 S. AVRAMOV, Medunarodno javno pravo, 1969, p. 326.


91 Résolution “La distinction entre les objectifs militaires et non militaires en général, et notamment les
problèmes que pose l’existence des armes de destruction massive”, A.I.D.I., 53ème vol., session d’Edimbourg,
septembre 1969, t. II, 1969, p. 360.
92 A.I.D.I., 52ème vol., session de Nice, septembre 1967, t. II, 1967, p. 209.
192 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

Cependant, les Etats n’ont pas un comportement tel qu’on puisse en conclure que
le droit en vigueur suffit pour limiter leur arsenal d’armes aux catégories qui ne sont
pas visées par l’interdiction de la résolution précitée de l’Institut de Droit International.
C’est pourquoi, poussée par la nécessité, la communauté internationale profite de chaque
signe de bonne volonté des grandes puissances pour obtenir d’elles l’élaboration de
nouveaux instruments limitant de différentes façons la diversité de l’armement, et avant
tout de l’armement nucléaire. Jusqu’à présent, des traités ont été conclus par lesquels
certains Etats renoncent à l’armement nucléaire; les superpuissances ont accepté certaines
limitations de leur armement nucléaire; les essais d’armes nucléaires sont interdits dans
certains milieux, de même que l’installation d’un armement nucléaire dans certains
espaces. Nous parlerons de ces traités dans la mesure où ils se rapportent à la mer.

§2 – Limitation des armes stratégiques nucléaires en mer

1. S.A.L.T.
Des négociations ayant duré plusieurs années sur la limitation des armes stratégiques
(L.A.S.) entre les Etats-Unis et l’Union soviétique ont abouti à deux traités de base, signés
à Moscou le 26 mai 1972: le Traité sur la limitation des systèmes de missiles antibalis-
tiques (A.B.M. Treaty) et la Convention provisoire au sujet de certaines mesures concer-
nant la limitation des armes offensives stratégiques.93 Bien que ces deux formes de
limitation d’armes nucléaires soient étroitement liées entre elles, seule la seconde nous
intéresse dans le cadre de cet exposé, car elle se rapporte, en partie, aux forces militaires
maritimes. En effet, en vertu de la Convention provisoire et du Protocole conclu en même
temps que cette Convention, les deux Etats ont déterminé le nombre maximal admissible
de lanceurs de missiles balistiques installés sur sous-marins (S.L.B.M.) pour chacun d’eux
(Etats-Unis 710, Union soviétique 950) et de sous-marins balistiques modernes (Etats-Unis
44, Union soviétique 62). Au moment de la conclusion de la Convention, les Etats-Unis
n’avaient que 656 lanceurs sur des sous-marins nucléaires, et l’Union soviétique 740
lanceurs de ce genre. Les deux Etats ne pouvaient parvenir aux limites admises par la
Convention qu’en remplaçant un nombre égal de lanceurs de missiles balistiques intercon-
tinentaux I.C.B.M. de types plus anciens construits avant 1964, ou de lanceurs installés
à bord de sous-marins plus anciens.
En vue de la surveillance de l’application de la Convention, il a été permis à chaque
partie d’utiliser les moyens techniques nationaux de vérification dont elle dispose. (Pour
suivre les lancements d’essai des missiles de l’autre partie et leurs propres tests, les deux
Etats ont des stations d’observations sur les océans.) Ces moyens doivent être conformes
au droit international, et il n’est pas permis à l’autre partie d’en entraver le fonctionne-

93 Textes dans COLLIARD et MANIN, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, t. 1, 1975, p. 166. Voir
en outre G. FISCHER, Les accords sur la limitation des armes stratégiques, A.F.D.I., 1972, p. 9 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 193

ment. Une Commission consultative permanente des deux parties a été créée pour assurer
l’application de la Convention.

2. S.A.L.T. II
Les représentants des Etats-Unis d’Amérique et de l’Union soviétique ont signé le 18
juin 1979, à Vienne, une série d’accords S.A.L.T. II.94 A la différence de S.A.L.T. I,
les lanceurs sur sous-marins (S.L.B.M.) ne sont pas, dans S.A.L.T. II, limités indépendam-
ment, mais sont englobés dans la limite de l’arsenal stratégique (2 250 pour chacune
des parties, et jusqu’au 1er janvier 1981 il ne devait pas y en avoir plus de 2 400) et
dans le plafond des lanceurs de missiles balistiques mirvés (1 200). En outre, chacun
des S.L.M.B. pouvait avoir au maximum 14 corps de rentrée.
Par un protocole additionnel, les deux Etats se sont mis d’accord, et ce pour la période
allant jusqu’au 31 décembre 1981. Au point de vue de l’armement maritime, chacune
des parties contractantes s’est engagée à ne pas mettre en place des missiles à tête
chercheuse sur des lanceurs en mer de portée supérieure à 600 km et à ne pas effectuer
de lancements d’essai de tels missiles équipés de têtes multiples guidées indépendamment.
Les documents de S.A.L.T. II contenaient aussi une déclaration commune concernant
les futures négociations des deux Etats sur la limitation ultérieure de l’armement straté-
gique. Malheureusement, les traités S.A.L.T. II n’ont pas été ratifiés, et avec l’arrivée
au pouvoir de la nouvelle Administration américaine, l’approche des Etats-Unis quant
aux négociations sur l’armement stratégique a été modifiée.
Il faut regretter l’interruption du processus S.A.L.T., non seulement parce qu’elle
reflète l’aggravation des relations entre les deux superpuissances, mais aussi parce que
des résultats effectifs avaient été obtenus au cours de ces négociations. Il convient
cependant de souligner que, sur le plan de la limitation de l’armement stratégique, les
traités S.A.L.T. avaient plusieurs lacunes importantes: ils laissaient à chaque Etat un trop
grand nombre de S.L.B.M. (et de corps de rentrée à têtes multiples indépendamment
guidées, M.I.R.V., en général), ils permettaient de poursuivre le perfectionnement tech-
nique de ces armements et, en outre, ils laissaient intactes les forces nucléaires maritimes
de la Grande-Bretagne, de la France et d’autres puissances nucléaires maritimes poten-
tielles.

§3 – Dénucléarisation et utilisation de l’énergie nucléaire à des fins pacifiques

1. Navires à propulsion nucléaire


Dans toutes les formes de limitation, les Etats soulignent qu’ils ne renoncent pas à
l’emploi de l’énergie nucléaire pour des fins pacifiques. C’est pourquoi on a adopté des

94 Textes dans COLLIARD et MANIN, op. cit., p. 170. Voir en outre G. FISCHER, Les Accords S.A.L.T.
II, A.F.D.I., 1979, p. 129 et s.
194 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

systèmes de contrôle des activités nucléaires des Etats afin d’éviter que, de pacifiques
qu’elles étaient, ces activités ne deviennent militaires.
La mer et l’emploi de l’énergie nucléaire à des fins pacifiques sont étroitement liés.
La construction de navires à propulsion nucléaire a été l’une des premières formes
d’utilisation de l’énergie nucléaire à des fins pacifiques.95 La navigation de ces navires
et le transport des matières radioactives ont conduit, tout d’abord, à la conclusion de
traités bilatéraux entre les Etats du pavillon et les pays dans les eaux desquels ces navires
entraient, puis à l’adoption de règles internationales spéciales dans le cadre de l’Organisa-
tion Maritime Internationale (O.M.I., anciennement O.M.C.I.).
La Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer renferme des dispositions
spéciales pour les navires à propulsion nucléaire et les navires transportant des substances
radioactives lorsqu’ils exercent le droit de passage inoffensif dans la mer territoriale.
Ils peuvent en particulier être requis d’emprunter certaines voies de circulation et de
respecter certains dispositifs de séparation du trafic, et ils sont tenus “d’être munis des
documents et de prendre les mesures spéciales de précaution prévus par des accords
internationaux pour ces navires” (art. 23).

2. Immersion de déchets radioactifs


Très rapidement, après le début de l’emploi de l’énergie nucléaire, on s’est rendu compte
du danger que présentait pour la mer son utilisation sans contrôle en vue de l’immersion
de déchets radioactifs. C’est pourquoi, déjà dans la Convention sur la haute mer de 1958,
il avait été prescrit “de prendre des mesures pour éviter la pollution des mers due à
l’immersion de déchets radioactifs” (art. 25, par. 1). Cette obligation n’a toutefois pas
été respectée, et les Etats n’ont pas non plus mis en application leur promesse d’adopter
des normes internationales adéquates pour la prévention de la pollution marine résultant
d’activités qui comportent l’emploi de matériaux radioactifs. Les conventions internationa-
les conclues jusqu’à présent ne sont pas suffisantes pour assurer une protection adéquate
et, malheureusement, dans la Convention sur le droit de la mer, de 1982, la pollution
de ta mer par la radioactivité n’est pas mentionnée spécialement.96

B. L’interdiction des essais d’armes nucléaires

1. Introduction
Cette interdiction résulte, dans certains cas, explicitement de l’interdiction des essais
d’armes nucléaires et de celle d’autres explosions nucléaires et, dans d’autres cas, indirec-
tement d’autres interdictions visant l’utilisation de l’énergie nucléaire à des fins militaires.

95 Voir L.M. HYDEMAN et W.H. BERMAN, International Control of Nuclear Maritime Activities, 1960.
96 Voir S.A. BOEHMER-CHRISTIANSEN, Dumping nuclear waste into the sea: international control of science
and law, Marine policy, 1983, no 1, p. 25 et s.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 195

Les unes et les autres de ces dispositions conventionnelles interdisent les essais d’armes
nucléaires tantôt ratione personae, tantôt ratione loci. A côté du droit conventionnel,
il convient aussi de mentionner l’existence des régles de droit coutumier en la matière.
L’interdiction visant les essais nucléaires est explicitement établie pour certains Etats,
alors qu’elle découle, pour les autres, de l’interdiction de fabriquer ou d’acquérir des
armes nucléaires de toute autre manière. Globalement, les essais d’armes nucléaires sont
interdits: a) aux Etats vaincus à la deuxième guerre mondiale, sur la base des traités de
paix et à l’Allemagne de l’Ouest sur la base des Accords de Paris du 23 octobre 1954;97
b) à l’Autriche (Traité d’Etat du 15 mai 1955);98 c) aux pays de l’Amérique latine, sur
la base du Traité visant l’interdiction des armes nucléaires en Amérique latine (Traité
de Tlatelolco du 14 février 1967);99 d) à tous les Etats contractants du Traité sur la non-
prolifération des armes nucléaires du 1er juillet 1968.100 Par ailleurs, les traités inter-
nationaux déterminent certains espaces où il est interdit à quiconque d’effectuer des essais
d’armes nucléaires. Pour le moment, il s’agit, dans le cas des espaces maritimes, de
l’Antarctique, de l’Amérique latine, ainsi que de la mer et des fonds des mers et des
océans en général.

2. Traité sur l’interdiction des essais nucléaires


Selon le Traité interdisant les essais d’armes nucléaires dans l’atmosphère, dans l’espace
extra-atmosphérique et sous l’eau, signé à Moscou le 5 octobre 1963,101 les Etats
contractants se sont engagés à “interdire, à empêcher et à ne pas effectuer quelque
explosion expérimentale d’arme nucléaire que ce soit, ou autre explosion nucléaire, en
tout lieu relevant de sa juridiction ou de son contrôle...” (art. I). En vertu de cette disposi-
tion sont interdites toutes les explosions “dans l’atmosphère, au-delà de ses limites, y
compris l’espace extra-atmosphérique, ou sous l’eau, y compris les eaux territoriales ou
la haute mer...”; toute explosion dans tout autre environnement est par ailleurs interdite
“si une telle explosion entraîne la présence de débris radioactifs hors des limites terri-
toriales de l’Etat sous la juridiction ou sous le contrôle duquel cette explosion se produit”.
Par conséquent, l’interdiction porte sur toutes les explosions nucléaires a l’intérieur des
limites territoriales de chaque Etat ou en dehors de ces limites, mais ne vaut pas pour
les explosions dans le sous-sol, sauf si leurs conséquences se manifestent en dehors du
territoire relevant de la juridiction ou du contrôle de l’Etat qui provoque l’explosion.
Les formulations du Traité sur l’interdiction des essais nucléaires ne sont pas suffi-
samment claires en ce qui concerne les explosions éventuelles dans le sous-sol des fonds

97 Texte dans C.A. COLLIARD et A. MANIN, Droit international et histoire diplomatique, t. II – Europe,
1970, p. 521 et s.
98 R.T.N.U., vol. 217, p. 223.
99 R.T.N.U., vol. 729, p. 161.
100 R.T.N.U., vol. 729, p. 161.
101 R.T.N.U., vol. 480, p. 43.
196 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

marins. La question se pose de savoir si l’interdiction absolue d’explosions “sous l’eau”


vise toutes les explosions de cette nature ou seulement celles qui entraînent une proliféra-
tion de la radioactivité en dehors du territoire de l’Etat qui provoque l’explosion.
A cause de cette imprécision, il est utile de consulter le Traité interdisant de placer
des armes nucléaires et d’autres armes de destruction massive sur le fond des mers et
des océans ainsi que dans leur sous-sol, signé à Londres, Moscou et Washington le 11
février 1971. L’article 1er, déjà cité, de ce traité interdit, entre autres, de placer sur les
fonds marins toute installation expressément conçue pour les essais d’armes de destruction
massive. Cette interdiction implique, sans aucun doute, l’interdiction des essais nucléaires
eux-mêmes sur le fond et dans le sous-sol des mers. Toujours est-il que, malgré cette
disposition, la question des explosions nucléaires dans le sous-sol de la zone côtière reste
ouverte. En effet, ce traité ne s’applique pas, en ce qui concerne les Etats côtiers, aux
fonds marins jusqu’à douze milles à partir des lignes de base servant de points de départ
pour mesurer la largeur de la mer territoriale.
Le fait que le Traité sur l’interdiction des essais nucléaires ne mentionne expressément
que la mer territoriale et la haute mer ne pose aucun problème d’interprétation, même
aujourd’hui où le nombre de régimes en mer a augmenté par rapport à la situation qui
a caractérisé l’époque de la conclusion de ce traité. La mer territoriale et la haute mer
sont mentionnées par celui-ci dans le cadre du terme général “l’eau”, en vue de montrer
que l’interdiction d’exercer des essais comprend la mer sous la juridiction des Etats, mais
aussi celle au-delà de leur juridiction.

3. Haute mer
Dès le commencement des essais d’armes nucléaires en haute mer, la question s’est posée
de savoir si ces essais étaient compatibles avec le régime de la haute mer et la liberté
de tous les Etats d’utiliser la haute mer, sans que soit entravée son utilisation par d’autres
Etats. Exprimant l’opinion de nombreux Etats selon laquelle les explosions nucléaires
en haute mer constituent une infraction à la liberté de la mer, la première Conférence
des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer a adopté, le 27 avril 1958, une résolution par
laquelle elle a décidé de renvoyer cette question à l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies
pour qu’elle prenne toutes mesures nécessaires.
Comme nous l’avons montré, la réponse est claire dans le cas des Etats parties au
Traité de Moscou de 1963: ils se sont engagés à ne pas effectuer d’essais nucléaires dans
n’importe quelle partie de la mer ni dans l’espace aérien surjacent. Malheureusement,
on ne peut pas affirmer que cette obligation soit passée dans le droit coutumier général
et qu’elle lie aussi les Etats qui ne sont pas parties au Traité de Moscou. Malgré le grand
nombre des Etats parties, cette conclusion, celle de l’illicéité coutumière, ne serait pas
plausible en raison des Etats qui manifestent clairement leur volonté de ne pas accepter
tes obligations de ce traité. Dans le même sens va aussi la possibilité accordée aux Etats
parties de se retirer du Traité (art. IV).
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 197

Pourtant, malgré la conclusion que les interdictions du Traité de Moscou ne se sont


pas transformées en droit coutumier, nous estimons qu’il existe une interdiction d’effectuer
des essais d’armes nucléaires en haute mer en tant que règle de droit coutumier général.
Cette conclusion tient à plusieurs arguments. Tout d’abord, nous partageons l’opinion
de Gidel et d’Andrassy selon laquelle les essais nucléaires sont incompatibles avec le
principe de la liberté des mers.102 A notre avis, l’interdiction générale de procéder à
des essais nucléaires en haute mer résulte aussi de l’art. 25 de la Convention sur la haute
mer de 1958, d’après lequel tous les Etats s’engagent à ne pas polluer la mer par l’immer-
sion de déchets radioactifs et par l’emploi de matériaux radioactifs. Les conséquences
d’explosions nucléaires sont justement celles que l’on voulait empêcher par l’art. 25 de
la Convention sur la haute mer et il ne faut pas oublier que les dispositions de cette
convention “sont pour l’essentiel déclaratoires de principes établis du droit international”
(préambule de la Convention). En plus, compte tenu de l’unité de la haute mer avec les
parties de la mer relevant de la juridiction des Etats côtiers, il est incontestable que les
essais en haute mer causent des dommages à la mer et aux ressources naturelles apparte-
nant aux Etats tiers.

4. Traité sur l’Antarctique


Dans le Traité sur l’Antarctique, on cite parmi les activités interdites sur ce continent
“les essais d’armes de toutes sortes” (art. I, par. 1). Comme dans l’article V, paragraphe
1, du Traité on interdit “toute explosion nucléaire dans l’Antarctique”, il n’y a pas de
doute en ce qui concerne l’interdiction des essais d’armes nucléaires dans l’Antarctique.
Nous avons déjà signalé les problèmes concernant l’application des dispositions du
Traité sur l’Antarctique à la mer qui l’entoure. Nous avons conclu que le régime de
l’Antarctique s’étendait entièrement à la bande côtière de la mer, dont on ne précise pas
la largeur ni la nature, en dépit de certaines affirmations selon lesquelles il s’agirait de
mer territoriale. En haute mer, même au sud du 60ème degré, où le régime de l’Antarc-
tique s’applique, les Etats bénéficient des droits et libertés du régime de la haute mer
(art. VI). Pourtant, comme nous avons essayé de le démontrer plus haut, l’exécution
d’essais d’armes nucléaires ne relève pas des droits et libertés dont les Etats jouissent
en haute mer. Tout au contraire, ces essais empêchent l’exercice des droits et libertés
des Etats tiers en haute mer et c’est la raison pour laquelle ils sont interdits par le droit
coutumier général.

5. Traité sur l’interdiction d’armes nucléaires en Amérique latine


Ce traité contient l’engagement des contractants de ne pas effectuer d’essais d’armes
nucléaires. L’interdiction des essais nucléaires s’étend, d’après ce traité, aux grands

102 G. GIDEL, Explosions nucléaires expérimentales et liberté de la haute mer, Mélanges Spiropulos, 1967,
pp. 173-205; ANDRASSY, Medunarodno pravo, p. 190.
198 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

espaces marins, car elle ne s’applique pas seulement à la mer territoriale des Etats
contractants et aux autres espaces relevant de leur juridiction, mais aussi à la haute mer
adjacente à l’Amérique latine, à l’intérieur des coordonnées déterminées par le Traité.

C. Espaces dénucléarisés

1. Origine et notion générale


L’introduction des armes nucléaires dans les armées des grandes puissances fut bientôt
suivie par des propositions ayant pour but de délimiter certaines zones où toute mise
en place de telles armes serait interdite.103 Les propositions avancées visaient la dénuclé-
arisation de territoires relevant de la juridiction nationale ou bien de zones ne relevant
exclusivement d’aucune juridiction nationale. Les zones dénucléarisées étaient aussi bien
des espaces continentaux que des espaces à la fois continentaux et marins. De nombreuses
résolutions de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies furent adoptées, ayant principale-
ment pour objet la mise en marche de la procédure permettant la conclusion de traités
internationaux sur la dénucléarisation de telles zones.
Dans sa résolution 3472 B (XXX) du 11 décembre 1975, l’Assemblée générale a
notamment donné une définition générale de la zone dénucléarisée en fixant en même
temps les obligations principales des Etats nucléaires à l’égard de ces zones. Selon cette
résolution, “la zone exempte d’armes nucléaires” s’établit en vertu d’un traité qui doit
contenir la procédure à suivre pour délimiter la zone, l’interdiction absolue de l’installation
d’armes nucléaires à l’intérieur de la zone, ainsi qu’un système international de vérifica-
tion et de contrôle du respect des obligations dérivant du traité. Quant aux puissances
nucléaires, on leur demande de s’engager à respecter le contenu du Traité sur la dénuclé-
arisation et de s’abstenir de menacer les Etats englobés dans la zone de l’emploi de leur
armement nucléaire.
Malheureusement, il n’y a pour le moment qu’un espace très restreint qui soit, en
vertu de dispositions conventionnelles, exempt du risque de voir s’installer des armes
nucléaires à l’intérieur de ses frontières. Il nous semble cependant que l’obligation de
certains Etats de ne pas s’équiper en armes nucléaires entraîne également l’impossibilité
de l’installation, par qui que ce soit, d’armes nucléaires sur leur territoire. Malheureuse-
ment, la politique des Etats comme la doctrine prouvent le contraire.104

103 M. LACHS, Bezatomske zone, Medunarodni problemi, 1963, no 4, pp. 17-26: B. VUKAS, Oružja za
masovno uništavanje i medunarodno pravo, Medunarodni problemi, 1971, no 1, pp. 45-47; NQUYEN
QUOC DINH, P. DAILLER et A. PELLET, Droit international public, 2e éd., 1980, p. 897.
104 Voir E. BROWN FIRMAGE, The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, A.J.I.L., 1969,
no 4, p. 722.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 199

2. L’Antarctique
Quoique l’interdiction d’installer les armes nucléaires ne figure pas formellement dans
le Traité sur l’Antarctique, elle s’y trouve indéniablement incluse. Cette conclusion
découle non seulement des objectifs et de l’esprit général du Traité ainsi que du principe
de l’exploitation uniquement pacifique de l’Antarctique, mais également du fait que
“toutes mesures de caractère militaire” y sont interdites (art. I, par. 1).
Si l’on se réfère à nos considérations précédentes sur l’application du régime établi
par le Traité, on peut conclure que l’interdiction d’introduire des armes nucléaires vaut
pour les ports et les rades, ainsi que pour les eaux côtières de l’Antarctique, mais non
pour la haute mer. Le système du contrôle de l’application du Traité est particulièrement
significatif, eu égard à toutes les interdictions contenues dans le Traité qui concernent
les activités nucléaires: installation d’armes nucléaires, essais d’armes nucléaires et
émilination de déchets radioactifs.

3. Le fond des mers et leur sous-sol


Le Traité sur la démilitarisation partielle des fonds marins représente le seul traité général
sur la dénucléarisation. Nous te qualifions de général du fait qu’il est ouvert à tous les
pays et qu’il ne s’applique pas exclusivement à une région géographique.105
Dans nos développements sur la démilitarisation, nous avons cité plus loin la disposi-
tion de base du Traité de 1971, selon laquelle il est interdit, au-delà de la limite extérieure
des 12 milles marins à partir des lignes de base, d’installer ou de placer toute arme
nucléaire, de même que toute “construction, installation de lancement ou autre installation
expressément conçue pour le stockage, les essais et l’utilisation de telles armes” (art.
1er, par. 1).
Tout Etat peut, à titre autonome, contrôler le respect des obligations conventionnelles
en observant les activités d’autres Etats, sans pour autant gêner celles-ci. Si, à la suite
de telles observations, des doutes raisonnables persistent quant à l’exécution des obliga-
tions selon le Traité, l’Etat qui a des doutes et le contractant responsable de l’activité
qui les a éveillés entreront en consultation en vue d’écarter les soupçons. L’Etat qui,
même après ces consultations, garde des doutes en informera les autres signataires du
Traité; les contractants intéressés se mettront d’accord sur de nouvelles mesures de
contrôle, pouvant comporter l’inspection d’objets, de constructions, d’installations et
d’autres aménagements dont on pourrait raisonnablement supposer qu’ils servent aux
activités interdites par le Traité.
Après la mise en pratique de telles mesures d’inspection, l’Etat qui en aura pris
l’initiative en informera les autres contractants. Si, même après cette procédure complexe,
les doutes ne sont pas dissipés et qu’on persiste à soupçonner une activité de constituer

105 Texte dans R.G.D.I.P., 1971, p. 387. Voir en outre J.P. LEVY, ibid., p. 370.
200 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

une violation du Traité, chaque Etat pourra s’adresser au Conseil de sécurité des Nations
Unies.

4. L’Amérique latine
Pour une partie du monde – il s’agit de l’Amérique latine – , la dénucléarisation est chose
convenue et elle semble, à ce jour, avoir été respectée même par les Etats qui n’ont pas
encore adhéré au Traité de Tlatelolco. Les Etats contractants se sont engagés à interdire
et à empêcher sur leur territoire “l’essai, l’emploi, la fabrication, la production ou l’acqui-
sition, par quelque moyen que ce soit, de toute arme nucléaire, pour leur propre compte,
directement ou indirectement, pour le compte de tiers ou de toute autre manière; la
réception, l’entreposage, l’installation, la mise en place ou la possession sous quelque
forme que ce soit, de toute arme nucléaire, directement ou indirectement, pour leur propre
compte, par l’intermédaire de tiers ou de toute autre manière”. Ils s’engagent en outre
“à s’abstenir de réaliser, d’encourager ou d’autoriser tout essai, emploi, fabrication,
production, possession ou contrôle d’une arme nucléaire quelconque...” (art. 1). Outre
ces obligations assurées par les Etats latino-américains, les Etats internationalement
responsables des territoires situés dans la zone d’application du Traité, de même que
les puissances possédant des armes nucléaires, se sont engagés, par des protocoles
supplémentaires, à faire en sorte que le Traité lie tous les Etats qui, dans un dessein
belliqueux, pourraient mettre en cause la dénucléarisation de l’Amérique latine.
Une fois que le Traité sera obligatoire pour tous les Etats appartenant à ces trois
catégories, il sera appliqué à l’Amérique du Sud et à l’Amérique centrale dans leur
totalité, ainsi qu’aux Caraïbes, y compris de grands espaces de la haute mer. Pour le
moment, la zone d’application du Traité n’englobe que les territoires des Etats pour
lesquels le Traité est en vigueur (y compris leur mer territoriale).
Les Etats contractants mettent en place un organisme international appelé “Organisme
pour l’interdiction des armes nucléaires en Amérique latine”, qui a pour mission d’assurer
le respect des obligations découlant du Traité. Le système du contrôle international du
respect des obligations implique l’exécution d’inspections spéciales au cas où l’on
soupçonnerait une violation du Traité, ainsi que l’adoption de mesures en cas de violation
du Traité. L’application du système de garanties de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie
atomique est également prévue.

5. Autres régions
Quoique l’Amérique latine soit la seule région où le principe de la dénucléarisation vis-à-
vis des fins belliqueuses ait été établie par un traité international, la dénucléarisation
d’autres régions du monde a fait, même avant le Traité de Tlatelolco, l’objet de nom-
breuses propositions, résolutions et décisions. Ainsi, par exemple, l’Assemblée générale
a invité les membres des Nations Unies de respecter la dénucléarisation de l’Afrique
(1963); la Conférence des chefs d’Etat ou de gouvernement de l’Organisation de l’Unité
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 201

africaine a adopté une Déclaration sur la dénucléarisation de l’Afrique (1964); cette


Déclaration a été appuyée par les chefs d’Etat ou de gouvernement des pays non alignés
(1964) et approuvée par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies (1965).106
La dénucléarisation de toute région continentale concernerait évidemment les parties
de la mer relevant de la souveraineté des Etats auxquels la dénucléarisation s’appliquerait.
Ainsi, la dénucléarisation de l’Europe centrale, de la Scandinavie et des Balkans devrait
s’étendre également à la mer territoriale (et bien entendu aux eaux intérieures) des Etats
de ces régions. De même, dans sa résolution 1652 (XVI) du 24 novembre 1961, par
laquelle l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a demandé aux Etats membres de
considérer le continent africain comme une zone dénucléarisée, il a été précisé que ce
statut devait valoir aussi pour la mer territoriale de l’Afrique.
Par la mise en œuvre de propositions concernant la dénucléarisation de régions
géographiques englobant de vastes étendues de mer – telles que le Moyen-Orient ou l’Asie
du Sud –, la dénucléarisation s’étendrait probablement aux parties de la mer situées au-
delà de la juridiction ou de la souveraineté d’un Etat quelconque.
Cependant, outre les idées et les propositions portant sur la dénucléarisation de zones
qui engloberaient éventuellement une étendue plus ou moins large de mer, on avance
des propositions de dénucléarisation d’espaces qui sont essentiellement des espaces marins
(par exemple le Pacifique). La proposition déjà mentionnée, qui prévoit la transformation
de l’océan Indien en zone de paix, implique par ce fait même sa dénucléarisation; quant
à la Méditerranée, certaines propositions préconisent sa dénucléarisation (Union soviétique,
1963), d’autres sa transformation en zone de paix. Quoique ces propositions ne précisent
pas les limites géographiques des zones en question, il apparaît clairement que la transfor-
mation de la Méditerranée (par exemple) en zone dénucléarisée impliquerait l’exclusion
des armes nucléaires de toutes les eaux méditerranéennes, quel que soit leur régime
international.

2.5 Mesures destinées à renforcer la confiance et a réduire les risques de conflits


armés

1. Introduction
Devant l’échec enregistré sur le plan du désarmement et le recours toujours plus fréquent
à la force dans le règlement des différends internationaux, les Etats recherchent de
nouveaux moyens secondaires susceptibles d’atténuer les tensions internationales et de
prévenir les conflits. Ainsi, on préconise des mesures propres a prévenir les accidents
dus au hasard, puis l’instauration de contacts directs entre chefs d’Etat, enfin d’autres

106 Voir Study on all the Aspects of Regional Disarmament, United Nations, 1981, A/35/416, p. 21 et s.
202 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

“mesures destinées à renforcer la confiance”.107 Cette formule a été employée dans


l’Acte final de la Conférence sur la sécurité et la coopération en Europe à propos des
mesures suivantes: notification préalable des manœuvres militaires d’envergure; notifica-
tion préalable d’autres manœuvres militaires; échange d’observateurs; notification préalable
de mouvements militaires d’envergure; autres mesures destinées à renforcer la confi-
ance.108
Certaines mesures convenues dans le cadre S.A.L.T. entre les Etats-Unis et l’U.R.S.S.
peuvent également être qualifiées de mesures destinées à renforcer la confiance: échange
d’informations sur certaines activités, engagement de ne pas faire obstacle aux activités
de reconnaissance de l’autre partie, notification du lancement des missiles dont on prévoit
qu’ils sortiront hors des frontières du territoire d’un Etat particulier, établissement d’une
Commission consultative permanente pour le contrôle de la mise en pratique des clauses
contractuelles.109
Etant donné le sujet de la présente étude, nous n’exposerons en détail que la notifica-
tion préalable des manœuvres militaires d’envergure et la prévention des accidents en
haute mer

2. Notification préalable des manœuvres militaires


L’application de toutes les mesures indiquées ci-dessus et figurant dans l’Acte final de
Helsinki n’a pas un caractère obligatoire, à l’exception de la notification préalable des
manœuvres militaires d’envergure. Les manœuvres qui mettent en mouvement plus de
25000 “hommes des formations terrestres, manœuvrant indépendamment ou, éventuelle-
ment, en liaison avec tout élément aérien ou naval” doivent être notifiées à tous les autres
Etats d’Europe vingt et un jours au moins avant leur commencement. L’information porte
sur l’objectif des manœuvres, sur leur envergure et la composition des forces armées
qui y participeront, ainsi que sur la région et l’époque où elles auront lieu. L’obligation
de notification se rapporte aux “manœuvres militaires d’envergure qui se dérouleront
sur le territoire, en Europe, de tout Etat participant ainsi que, le cas échéant, dans la zone
maritime ou dans l’espace aérien voisin”. Le critère di “voisinage” des manœuvres navales
sur le continent européen n’est certes pas suffisamment précisé, de sorte qu’il peut donner
lieu à des difficultés lors de la mise en application de cet accord.
Malgré la détérioration de la situation internationale après la Conférence de Helsinki,
les Etats observent l’obligation de notification de manœuvres. Cela a été confirmé lors
de la réunion de la Conférence tenue à Belgrade.110 Il est évident qu’ils continuent

107 Voir Comprehensive Study on Confidence-building Measures, United Nations, 1982 A/36/474.
108 Document sur les mesures de confiance et certains aspects de la sécurité et du désarmement, in Communiqué
final d’Helsinki, COLLIARD et MANIN, Documents de droit international et d’histoire diplomatique, 2,
p. 115.
109 Doc. A/36/474, p. 21.
110 Ibid., p. 16.
VII – MILITARY USES OF THE SEA 203

à respecter cette obligation puisque la presse a publié une nouvelle selon laquelle respecti-
vement le 27 et le 29 juin 1983 des manœuvres parallèles de l’O.T.A.N. et de l’Union
soviétique ont commencé dans la mer Baltique.111 Cependant, c’est précisément cette
nouvelle qui prouve l’intérêt limité des mesures destinées à renforcer la confiance; dans
une situation où la confiance fait défaut, la notification préalable des manœuvres ainsi
que les informations concernant leur objectif, leur envergure, leur durée et la région où
il est prévu qu’elles auront lieu provoquent les accusations mutuelles des deux parties,
ce qui aggrave les relations internationales. Il est d’ailleurs évident qui l’une et l’autre
partie sont, même sans aucune notification officielle, parfaitement au courant de l’intention
de l’autre partie d’effectuer le manœuvres puisqu’elles décident, l’une comme l’autre,
de commencer simultanément leurs manœuvres.

3. Prévention des accidents en haute mer


Outre les mesures régionales, européennes notamment, concernant à la fois les forces
armées terrestres et navales, des accords bilatéraux entre les grandes puissances ont été
conclus avec pour but de prévenir les incidents susceptibles de provoquer la guerre. Tel
est l’objectif des accords que l’Union soviétique a conclus, dans la période de 1971 à
1977, avec les trois puissances occidentales en vue de la prévention d’une guerre atomique
accidentelle.112 Dans l’optique de notre thème, il est cependant intéressant de mettre
en évidence l’Accord entre les Etats-Unis et l’Union soviétique sur la prévention des
accidents en haute mer et dans son espace aérien, signé à Moscou le 25 mai 1972, dans
le cadre de S.A.L.T. I.113
En vertu de cet accord, les deux Etats s’engagent à faire respecter à leurs avions et
navires en haute mer les règles internationales pertinentes. Leurs manœuvres ne doivent
pas s’effectuer dans des zones de trafic maritime dense et là où des dispositifs de sépara-
tion du trafic sont internationalement prescrits. Afin de prévenir les collisions pouvant
engendrer les hostilités, il est ordonné aux navires et aux avions des deux Etats de se
tenir toujours à une distance suffisante et de ne pas simuler d’attaque contre les avions
et les navires de guerre de l’autre partie. Il a été convenu que les deux parties s’informe-
raient mutuellement sur les actions prévues en haute mer, si elles sont de nature à mettre
en danger la navigation ou les avions en vol. Un comité spécial a été prévu qui aurait
pour tâche non seulement d’examiner les mesures d’application de l’Accord, mais surtout
de fixer des distances afin de prévenir les collisions.
En vertu du Protocole conclu à Moscou le 22 mai 1973,114 l’Accord de 1972 est
complété par une clause interdisant également la simulation d’attaques contre les navires

111 Vjesnik (Zagreb), 26 juin 1983.


112 Voir Arms Control: A Survey and Appraisal of Multilateral Agreements, pp. 230, 237 et 238.
113 World Armaments and Disarmament, S.I.P.R.I. Yearbook 1973, p. 36 et s., et I.L.M., XI, 4, p. 778.
114 Voir Arms Control: A Survey and Appraisal of Multilateral Agreements, p. 233, et I.L.M., XII, 5, p. 1108.
204 11 – RESTRICTIONS DES UTILISATIONS DE LA MER À DES FINS MILITAIRES

non militaires de l’autre partie; il est interdit également de lancer ou de jeter, dans le
voisinage des navires non militaires, des objets qui peuvent être dangereux pour ceux-ci
ou pour la sécurité de la navigation.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
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Chapter 12

INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE POLLUTION OF THE SEA*

The seas and oceans are the main battlefield in the universal war against the pollution
of the environment. The results of that war up to the present are not encouraging. It
suffices to mention the two latest casualties: the collision between the tankers “Venoil”
and “Venpet” near the coast of South Africa (December 1977) and the wrecking of the
tanker “Amoco Cadiz” on the coast of Brittany (March 1978). On the other hand, in
the last ten years the number of international law rules (as well as rules of other systems
of law) directed towards preventing pollution of the seas has enormously increased. Many
conventions constituting a world-wide regulation of the problem have been concluded,
as well as several regional treaties dealing with specific situations in particular seas. The
fund of principles of customary international law has also unquestionably grown.
In such a short article, it is impossible to give even a concise general description
of the development and present content of international law rules on the prevention and
abatement of pollution of the sea. We are therefore obliged to limit its scope. Considering
the nature of the Colloquium to which we submit this report, in which we meet with
our colleagues from a country whose coasts border a different sea from ours, it could
be of interest to deal particularly with the specific features of the anti-pollution efforts
in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Seas. Besides the particular features of the rules
elaborated for these semi-enclosed seas, we shall summarize the general law rules, which
must, in some respects, be applied in a distinctive way in those seas.

1. GENERAL INTERNATIONAL LAW

In this section we shall set out those provisions of international law in the relevant field
which have been adopted for all the seas and which are intended to become binding upon
all states. This second purpose has been achieved only in the case of general international
customary rules. There is no doubt that customary law regarding pollution is still rather

* This article was written in cooperation with Dr. Borut Bohte, Professor of Public International Law
at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was first published in Hague-Zagreb
Colloquium on the Law of International Trade, (C.C.A. Voskuil and J.A. Wade, eds.), T.M.C. Asser
Institute-The Hague, Sijthoff & Noordhoff-Alphen aan den Rijn-The Netherlands, 1980.
208 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

insufficient and vague, but it is also true that some treaty provisions have become
customary rules, and some of them had, even before their codification, existed as custom-
ary rules. However, as in all other fields of international law, so also in the field of
pollution the ascertainment of the existence of customary rules is a very difficult task.

1.1. 1958 Geneva conventions on the law of the sea

Although a new Convention on the Law of the Sea is being prepared at the Third United
Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), the four Geneva Conventions
signed at the First UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I), on 29 April 1958,
are still the basic documents of the positive international law of the sea.
Provisions on the duties of states concerning the prevention of pollution are included
in the Convention on the High Seas and in the Convention on the Continental Shelf.
Although these provisions are short and of a general nature, they have had a considerable
impact, as both Conventions have been quite widely accepted.1 We are of the opinion
that they are also an expression of general customary international law. In the preamble
to the High Seas Convention it is stated that the provisions of that Convention are
“generally declaratory of established principles of international law”. Twenty years after
the signing of the Continental Shelf Convention we maintain that the provisions on
pollution in that Convention also represent general customary law. This assertion of ours
is based not only on the large number of ratifications of the Convention and the ac-
ceptance of those provisions in the municipal law of many states, but also on the intention
of states to include them in the new Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In the 1958 Convention on the High Seas, Articles 24 and 25 deal with the prevention
of pollution:

“Article 24: Every State shall draw up regulations to prevent pollution of the seas by the
discharge of oil from ships or pipelines or resulting from the exploitation and exploration of
the seabed and its subsoil, taking account of existing treaty provisions on the subject.

Article 25: 1. Every State shall take measures to prevent pollution of the seas from the dumping
of radioactive waste, taking into account any standards and regulations which may be formulated
by the competent international organizations.

1 56 states are parties to the Convention on the High Seas and 53 states to the Convention on the Continental
Shelf; Multilateral Treaties in respect of which the Secretary-General performs depositary functions – List
of Signature, Ratifications Accessions, etc., as at 31 December 1976, ST/LEG/SER.D/10 pp. 506-508 and
516, 517.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 209

2. All States shall co-operate with the competent international organizations in taking measures
for the prevention of pollution of the seas or air space above, resulting from any activities with
radioactive materials or other harmful agents.”

In connection with Article 25 it is worth mentioning that there are interpretations accord-
ing to which the provisions on the prevention of radioactive pollution do not entail a
ban on dumping such radioactive wastes where their dumping is carried out in a manner
which does not cause contamination of the sea. On the other hand, dumping which results
in the pollution of the sea is prohibited regardless of the question whether it is carried
out on the high seas, in territorial seas or in a river. Every dumping which results in
the pollution of the sea by radioactivity must be prevented.
The Convention on the Continental Shelf contains some provisions aimed at the
prevention of the pollution which could be caused as a consequence of the exploration
of that area of the seabed (together with the exploitation of its natural resources) over
which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights. The coastal state is entitled to establish
safety zones around installations and other devices constructed on the continental shelf
(to a distance of 500 meters) and to take such measures in those zones as are necessary
for their protection. But, at the same time, the coastal state is obliged to undertake in
such zones “all appropriate measures for the protection of the living resources of the
sea from harmful agents” Article 5(7).
The dangers resulting from the exploration and exploitation of the seabed and its
subsoil are therefore mentioned in the 1958 Geneva Conventions in relation to the régimes
of the high seas and the continental shelf. Such threats were also dealt with in the
“Declaration of Principles Governing the Sea-Bed and the Ocean-Floor, and the Subsoil
thereof, beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction”.2 This Declaration is the initial
instrument on which the elaboration of a new régime for the international seabed area
has been based. Paragraph 11(a) provides that, with respect to activities in this area, states
shall take appropriate measures for, and shall co-operate in the adoption and implementa-
tion of, international rules for “the prevention of pollution and contamination, and other
hazards to the marine environment, including the coastline, and of interference with the
ecological balance of the marine environment”. Many participants in UNCLOS III
expressed their conviction that the provisions of this Declaration have already been
incorporated into the body of general customary international law.

2 Resolution 2749/XXV adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 17 December 1970.
210 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

1.2. IMCO Conventions

Within the framework of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization


(IMCO) many international instruments dealing with the prevention of pollution of the
sea have been adopted.3
Although the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea
by Oil was concluded on 12 May 1954, which was before IMCO began its operations,
the Organization had been designated to perform depositary functions. The 1954 Conven-
tion contains rules the purpose of which is to prevent deliberate pollution of the sea by
the discharge of oil from ships. It has been amended several times; the Amendments
adopted in 1962 and in 1969 are in force in all the States Parties to the Convention.4
The Convention applies to all sea-going vessels, except tankers of under 150 tons
gross tonnage and other ships of under 500 tons gross tonnage. Its provisions do not
apply to ships engaged in the whaling industry or to warships. Nevertheless, the Con-
tracting States undertake to adopt appropriate measures ensuring that requirements
equivalent to those accepted in the Convention are applied to warships.
Before the 1969 Amendments came into force (20 January 1978), it was forbidden
to discharge oil in a zone along the coast. Such discharge was prohibited in all sea areas
within 50 miles of the nearest land, and in some specially endangered areas the prohibited
zones were extended to a distance of 100 miles. Such was the case in the Mediterranean
and the Adriatic Seas, where the prohibited zones comprised the sea areas within a
distance of 100 miles from the coast of each State Party to the Convention. Now, the
Convention is generally based upon the principles of the total prohibition of oil discharge.
The discharge of oil or oily mixtures is forbidden in all sea areas unless the ship is
“proceeding en route” and the rate of discharge of oil does not exceed 60 litres per mile.
Besides the conditions imposed upon all shipping, two further requirements are provided
for tankers and two for ships other than tankers. As far as tankers are concerned, the
total quantity of oil discharged on a ballast voyage must not exceed 1/15,000 of the total

3 On IMCO activities in the regulation of sea pollution: Ia. A. Ostrovskii, “International Legal Protection
of the Seas from Pollution”, 3 Ocean Development and International Law (1975, 1976) pp. 287-302; A.Ch.
Kiss, Survey of Current Developments in International Environmental Law, (Morges 1976) pp. 57-68; L.
Juda, “IMCO and the Regulation of Ocean Pollution from Ships” 26 The International and Comparative
Law Quarterly, (1977) pp. 558-584.
4 The 1954 Convention came into force on 26 July 1958 (UN Treaty Series, vol. 327 p. 3). The Amendments
adopted on 13 April 1962 came into force on 18 May and 28 June 1967 (UN Treaty Series, vol. 600 p.
332) and those adopted on 21 October 1969 came into force on 20 January 1978 (ILM (1970) p. 1).
Amendments adopted on 12 and 15 October 1971 (the first being designated to provide protection for the
Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast and the second concerning tanker arrangements and limitation
of tanker size) are not yet in force (ILM (1972) p. 267); Status of Multilateral Conventions and Instruments
in Respect of which the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization or its Secretary-General
acts as Depositary as at 31 December 1977 (Status).
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 211

cargo-carrying capacity, and the tanker has to be more than 50 miles from the nearest
land. For other ships it is required that the oil content of the discharge is less than 100
parts per 1,000,000 parts of the mixture, and that the discharge is made as far as prac-
ticable from land. To enable ships to abide by the provisions of the Convention, States
Parties have to provide, at their ports, oil-loading terminals and repair ports, facilities
adequate for the reception of oil and oil mixtures the discharge of which in the sea is
prohibited.
All the Contracting States may furnish evidence of alleged contraventions to the
government of the ship’s registry. That government, once notified, shall investigate the
matter and cause proceedings to be taken. Contraventions of the provisions of the Conven-
tion are punishable under the law of the flag state. Penalties which may be imposed in
respect of unlawful discharge outside that state’s territorial sea must not be less than
the penalties which may be imposed for such infringements within its territorial sea.
The 1954 Prevention of Pollution Convention (with all its subsequent Amendments)
should be replaced by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships, adopted by an Inter-Governmental Conference in London, on 2 November 1973.5
While the 1954 Convention deals only with oil pollution, the new Convention deals with
a wide range of harmful substances, a “harmful substance” being defined in the Conven-
tion as:

“any substance which, if introduced into the sea, is liable to create hazards to human health,
to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate
uses of the sea, and includes any substance subject to control by the present Convention” (Art.
2(2)).

The Convention applies to vessels of any type, but excludes from its application warships
and all other state ships which are on government non-commercial service only.
With regard to the discharge of oil, general conditions have been imposed along the
lines of the 1954 Convention, as amended in 1969. But, at the same time “special areas”
have been designated in which no discharge is permitted. The Mediterranean Sea, in-
cluding the Adriatic, is included in the list of special areas.
It is the duty of every state whose coasts border a special area to ensure that all
loading terminals and repair ports within the special area are provided with facilities
adequate for the reception and treatment of all dirty ballast and tank washing waters from

5 ILM (1973) p. 1319. Five Annexes and two Protocols were adapted at the same time as the Convention.
For the time being only two states (Sweden and Tunisia) are parties to the Convention (Status). On 17
February 1978 a Protocol to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships was
adopted. This Protocol is merged with the Convention into one single instrument. The Protocol is open
to ratification by any state, which in doing so must give effect both to the Convention and the Protocol;
it will come into force concurrently with the Convention (IMCO – MSC XXXVIII/4-6 March 1978).
212 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

oil tankers, and to provide all ports in such areas with adequate reception facilities for
other residues and oily mixtures from any sort of ship. Rules on the construction, equip-
ment and control of tankers have also been included in the scope of the Convention.
The Convention envisages the co-operation of States Parties in the detection of
violations and the enforcement of the provisions of the Convention, but it is up to each
particular state to punish its ships according to its own laws. A ship to which the Conven-
tion applies may, when in any port or off-shore terminal of a Contracting State, be
inspected by the authorities of that Contracting State in order to ascertain whether the
ship discharged harmful substances contrary to the provisions of the Convention. But,
this right of the port state may be limited by the right of the flag state to provide verifica-
tion certificates in respect of its ships. It is only for violations of the requirements of
the Convention committed within its territorial jurisdiction that a coastal state is entitled
to impose sanctions under its own law covering all ships.
The 1954 and 1973 Conventions deal with the prevention of the deliberate discharge
from ships of liquids which could he harmful to the marine environment and to human
health. The wrecking of the tanker “Torrey Canyon” (March 1967) highlighted the danger
from maritime accidents involving ships carrying oil and other harmful substances. Soon
after that accident, the International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High
Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties was concluded (Brussels, 29 November 1969).6
The basic rule of that Treaty was laid down in Article I:

“1. Parties to the present Convention may take such measures on the high seas as may be
necessary to prevent, mitigate or eliminate grave and imminent danger to their coastline or related
interests from pollution or threat of pollution of the sea by oil, following upon a maritime
casualty or acts related to such a casualty, which may reasonably be expected to result in major
harmful consequences.”

The meaning of the term “related interests” is given in the Convention itself. They include
maritime coastal activities (including fisheries), tourist attractions, the health of the coastal
population and the well-being of the coastal area, including the conservation of living
marine resources (Art. II(4)).
The Convention does not specify the measures which coastal states are entitled to
take, but it has been stated that they are to be in proportion to the actual or threatened
damage. Such measures must not unnecessarily interfere with the rights and interests
of other states and individuals and they must cease as soon as the aims set out in Article
I have been achieved. Except in cases of extreme urgency, the coastal state has to consult
with other states affected by a particular maritime accident, in particular with the flag
state, and must notify the proposed measures to all physical or corporate persons whose

6 ILM (1970) p. 25.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 213

interest may be affected by those measures. Parties causing damage to others, by taking
measures in contravention of the provisions of the Convention, are obliged to pay
compensation.
No measures may be taken against warships or other ships owned or operated by
a state and used, at the relevant period, on government non-commercial service only.
Installations or devices engaged in the exploration or exploitation of the resources of
the seabed are also excluded from the application of the Convention.
In connection with the basic principle of the Convention – the right of coastal states
to intervene on the high seas – it is necessary to point out that the Institut de Droit
International unanimously supported the view of Juraj Andrassy, its rapporteur in this
matter, that this principle was based on customary law. It was the opinion of the members
of the Institute, based on states’ right of self-protection, which exists as a rule of positive
customary international law, that in the case of a maritime accident which threatens its
coast with grave and imminent danger, a coastal state may take measures necessary to
prevent, mitigate or eliminate such danger, even if the measures affect foreign ships.7
This fundamental rule, as well as the rule laying down the conditions for the exercise
of the coastal state’s rights, was accepted by the Institute in the Resolution adopted at
its Edinburgh session in 1969.8
On 2 November 1973 a Protocol to the 1969 Brussels Convention was adopted,
extending the right of intervention on the high seas to cases of marine pollution by
harmful substances other than oil.9
At the same time as the Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas, the
International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage was concluded
(Brussels 29 November 1969).10 The provisions of this Convention apply to damage
caused by pollution resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from ships; their
application is limited to ships carrying oil in bulk as cargo. This Convention applies
exclusively to pollution damage caused on the territory (including the territorial sea) of
the Contracting States, and is not to be applied to warships and other ships owned or
operated by a state and used only on government non-commercial service.

7 Institut de Droit International, ed., Douzième Commission, Etudes des mesures les plus aptes à prévenir
la pollution des milieux maritimes, Rapport provisoire présénte par M. Juraj Andrassy, (Geneva 1969) pp.
27-29.
8 Institut de Droit International, Session d’Edinbourg, 4-13 Septembre 1969, Resolutions adoptées par l’Institut,
(Geneva 1969) p. 8.
9 ILM (1974) p. 605.
10 ILM (1970) p. 45. Besides the inter-state Convention on Civil Liability, tanker owners themselves concluded
agreements dealing with their liability for oil pollution: on 7 January 1969 Tanker Owners Voluntary
Agreement Concerning Liability for Oil Pollution (“Tovalop”) was signed (ILM (1969) p. 497), and on
14 January 1971 the Contract Regarding an Interim Supplement to Tanker Liability for Oil Pollution
(“Cristal”) was adopted, see ILM (1971) p. 137.
214 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

The owner of the ship is liable for any pollution damage. His liability is of a strict
nature. He is entitled to limit his liability in respect of any one incident to an aggregate
amount of 2,000 Poincaré francs for each ton of the ship’s tonnage (except for cases
in which the incident occurred as a result of his actual fault or privity). The aggregate
amount cannot in any event exceed 210 million francs. Contracting States are obliged
to require the owners of ships carrying more than 2,000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo to
maintain insurance or other financial security to cover their liability for pollution
damage.11
In contrast with all the above mentioned IMCO Conventions, which deal with
pollution which is the consequence of navigation, the 1972 Convention on the Dumping
of Wastes at Sea (opened for signature on 29 December 1972)12 regulates the prevention
of pollution of the sea from any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes from vessels, aircraft,
platforms or other man-made structures. The provisions of the Convention do not apply
to incidental dumping or to the disposal of wastes derived from the normal operation
of vessels, aircraft or structures, or from the exploration or exploitation of seabed mineral
resources.
The disposal of the most dangerous substances and materials [“black list”] has been
absolutely prohibited; the disposal of others is permitted only if certain conditions are
satisfied. For some of these, the issue of special permits is required before their disposal
[“grey list”], and for the dumping of others a prior general permit is necessary. The factors
to be considered when permits are issued are also provided for in the Convention, and
every Contracting State must nominate an appropriate authority to issue permits. Parties
have agreed to co-operate in order to attain an effective application of the Convention,
particularly on the high seas; outside the territory of each party, enforcement remains
the right of the flag state.

1.3. Lex ferenda (UNCLOS III)

The consideration of trends de lege ferenda concerning the protection and preservation
of the marine environment could embrace several new global, regional and bilateral legal

11 The IMCO Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (concluded in London, 19 November
1976) incorporates a new unit of account – the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights. The
adoption of this new unit, together with a system of calculating the limits of liability in another monetary
unit for states which do not use the Special Drawing Right to determine values in national currency, made
it desirable to modify the 1969 Convention on Civil Liability as well as the 1971 Convention on the
establishment of an International Fund. In order to amend these two Conventions, Protocols to both Conven-
tions were also adopted on 19 November 1976 (ILM (1977) pp. 617 and 621). As of 31 December 1977
there have been only a few signatures and no ratifications on the two Protocols (Status).
12 ILM (1972) p. 1291.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 215

proceedings.13 However, we intend to limit our analysis for the purpose of this paper
to the work of the most important current global international diplomatic conference in
this field, namely, UNCLOS III.14
The question of the protection of the marine environment is assigned to its Third
Committee and forms part of the Informal Composite Negotiating Text (ICNT)15 which
represents the informal comprehensive draft treaty on all relevant aspects of the new
Law of the Sea.
After dealing first with main general provisions of the ICNT we intend to tackle
briefly the ICNT provisions regarding different sources of pollution of the marine
environment.

1.3.1. General provisions

The relevant Chapter of the ICNT begins with the basic principle that “States have the
obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment” (Art. 193). We consider this
principle as the expression of the general principle of law “ne pas nuire aux autres”.
Moreover, it is a step forward in the international legal elaboration of states’ fundamental
environmental obligations deriving from the letter and spirit of the 1972 Stockholm
Declaration on Human Environment.16
In the Chapter on pollution and preservation of the marine environment the ICNT
also affirms the sovereign right of states to exploit their natural resources pursuant to
their environmental policies and in accordance with their duty to protect and preserve
the marine environment.
It is a compromise, accomodating two principles of general international law binding
as customary norms of international law, namely the duty of states to protect and preserve
the marine environment and the sovereign right of states to exploit their natural resources.
In this way the ICNT purports at the same time to contribute to the building of the New
International Economic Order, on the one hand, and to safeguard the marine environment,
on the other. Let us now try to summarize the way in which the ICNT tries to regulate
globally the marine environment.
Still under the heading of general provisions, the ICNT calls upon states to use the
best practicable means at their disposal to prevent and control marine pollution from
any source, to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control do not cause
pollution damage to other states, and to ensure that pollution arising from incidents or

13 Particularly important is the work of IMCO and UNEP.


14 UNCLOS III is already in its Seventh Session in Geneva.
15 UN Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.10(1977).
16 See, in particular, principles 7 and 21; Report of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, UN Doc.
A/CONF.48/14/Rev.1 (1977).
216 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

activities under their jurisdiction or control do not spread beyond the areas where they
exercise sovereign rights.
There is in the ICNT also an obligation not to transfer damage or hazards from one
area to another, or to transform one type of pollution into another.
States are required to co-operate globally and regionally in formulating rules, standards
and recommended practices and procedures for the protection and preservation of the
marine environment. The ICNT also contains provisions for the notification of imminent
or actual damage, contingency plans against pollution, promotion of studies, research
programmes and exchange of information and data about pollution.
Parties are prepared to commit themselves to promote technical assistance to devel-
oping countries for preserving the marine environment, minimizing the effects of major
pollution incidents and helping to prepare environmental assessments. Developing coun-
tries have priority in the allocation of international funds and facilities in these matters.
There is also a legal responsibility on states to co-operate in global or regional
international monitoring programmes concerning risks and effects of marine pollution.

1.3.2. Pollution from land-based sources

This source, which is the most frequent cause of marine pollution, falls within the realm
of national laws and regulations which should take into account internationally agreed
rules, standards, and recommended practices and procedures to prevent, reduce and control
pollution of the sea.
The ICNT calls upon states to endeavour, in particular through competent international
organizations, to establish global and regional rules, standards, practices and procedures
to this end.
States are entitled to enforce their national laws and regulations, as well as applicable
international organizations or diplomatic conferences, in this field.

1.3.3. Pollution from seabed activities

Here again it is up to the coastal states to establish national legislation regarding pollution
arising from seabed activities under their jurisdiction and from artificial islands, installa-
tions and structures under their jurisdiction.
Such national legislation and corresponding measures must be no less effective than
international rules, standards, procedures and practices.
States shall establish, and from time to time re-examine, global and regional rules,
standards, and recommended practices and procedures to combat this kind of pollution.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 217

States shall enforce their national legislation and applicable international rules and
standards established through appropriate international fora.17

1.3.4. Pollution from activities in the international seabed area18

The ICNT envisages the establishment of international rules, standards, practices and
procedures, in accordance with the legal regime for the international seabed area, to
prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from activities relating
to the exploration and the exploitation of the area. In addition, states must establish
national legislation governing the activities in the area of vessels, installations, structures
and other devices flying their flag or which have been registered with them. The require-
ments of such national legislation must be no less effective than the equivalent inter-
national legislation.
It has been argued19 that the marine environment of the high seas and the seabed
area is not sufficiently protected by the provisions of the ICNT.

1.3.5. Dumping20

In establishing national legislation against pollution of the marine environment by


dumping, states must ensure that dumping is not carried out without the permission of
their competent authorities. This legislation must be no less effective in abating pollution
from dumping than global rules and standards. States must endeavour to create such
international rules and standards.
Such national laws and regulations adopted in accordance with applicable international
rules and standards are to be enforced by (a) the coastal state with regard to dumping
within its territorial sea or its exclusive economic zone or on its continental shelf (b)
the flag state with regard to vessels and aircraft registered in its territory or flying its
flag and (c) any state with regard to acts of loading of wastes or other matter occurring
within its territory or at its off-shore terminals.

17 UNEP’s Working Group of Experts on Environmental Law discussed this question during its Session in
Geneva from 3-12 April 1978 on the basis of the “Study of offshore mining and drilling carried out within
the limits of national jurisdiction, prepared by Professor A.L.C. de Mestral, UNEP consultant (UNEP/WG.14/
2, 23 February 1978).
18 Henceforth referred to only as “Area”.
19 See J. Schneider, “Something Old, Something New: Some Thoughts on Grotius and the Marine Environment”,
18 Virginia Journal of International Law (1977) pp. 162, 163.
20 There was at the Sixth Session of UNCLOS III a discussion whether the word “incineration” should be
added to the term “dumping” as proposed by the French delegation. However, the view prevailed that the
notion of dumping in the London Convention of 1972 covered the notion of “incineration” too. The question
was raised again at the Seventh Session of UNCLOS III.
218 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

1.3.6. Pollution from or through the atmosphere

States, in establishing national legislation concerning the pollution of the marine environ-
ment from or through their air-space, or with regard to vessels or aircraft flying their
flags, must take into account internationally agreed rules, standards, recommended
practices and procedures. They must also endeavour to establish such global and regional
legal regimes and agreements.

1.3.7. Pollution from vessels

This proved to be the most controversial and time consuming item at UNCLOS III, since
it brought into opposition on the one hand the developing countries and coastal states
seeking primarily to protect their coastlines, and, on the other, the maritime powers, which
wanted to keep the freedom of navigation as unrestricted as possible.
Gradually a consciousness of the environment became more manifest at UNCLOS
III, although many still take the view that it is not adequately reflected in the ICNT.21
But there is wide agreement that the relevant environmental ICNT provisions are a
carefully negotiated compromise holding the balance between the opposed views.
The ICNT envisages, to combat pollution from vessels, international rules and
standards as well as legislation by states governing vessels flying their flag or which
have been registered with them. Such national legislation must have at least the same
effect as that of generally accepted international rules and standards. The ICNT foresees
legislation by coastal states governing ships in their territorial seas which must not hamper
the innocent passage of foreign vessels22 and also national legislation by coastal states
concerning the exclusive economic zone, conforming and giving effect to generally
accepted international rules and standards.
The ICNT also provides for the possibility of declaring special areas with special
laws and regulations issued by states in their exclusive economic zones under special
circumstances and with the authorization of the competent organization.23 Such additional
laws and regulations would implement the international rules and standards for discharge
or navigational practices, which are made applicable through IMCO for special areas.24
The procedure for obtaining permission from IMCO is very complicated and lengthy,

21 See, e.g., Conservation and the New Law of the Sea, IUCN Statement on the Informal Composite Negotiating
Text of UNCLOS III, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, February 1978.
22 The question of environmental dangers as an element in the limitation of the right of innocent passage of
vessels was one of the most debated items at UNCLOS III.
23 The delegations at present undoubtedly have IMCO in mind.
24 The problem of special areas would deserve special study in the light of the 1969 Amendments to the 1954
London Convention on the Prevention of Pollution by Oil and the 1973 new London Convention.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 219

which caused strong opposition on the part of six delegations.25 The institution of special
areas is of great importance for countries bordering semi-enclosed seas, in particular the
Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea.
As regards the very delicate problem of enforcement, this is the responsibility of
the flag state, the port state and the coastal state, depending in particular on the location
of the violation.
The flag state is bound to ensure compliance by its vessels with applicable inter-
national rules and standards and with its national legislation concerning pollution of the
sea, and to provide for their effective enforcement regardless of where the violation
occurred. The flag state must take appropriate measures to implement the requirements
of international rules and standards for navigation, including those concerned with the
design, construction, equipment and manning of vessels. The flag state also has special
duties concerning ships’ certificates, periodical inspection, investigation in the case of
violations of international rules and standards, proceedings, the supply of information
to a state requesting it and to the competent international organization concerning the
action taken and its outcome. The flag state is also bound to impose adequate and severe
penalties by legislation aimed at discouraging violations wherever they occur.
Enforcement by the port state applies to investigations and, where warranted by the
evidence, the commencement of proceedings in respect of any discharge from a vessel
in violation of the applicable international rules and standards occurring outside its internal
waters, territorial sea or exclusive economic zone, when the vessel is voluntarily in a
port or at an off-shore terminal of that state. The port state must, as far as practicable,
comply with requests from any coastal state to investigate discharge violations of inter-
national rules and standards within its internal waters, territorial sea or exclusive economic
zone, or from the flag state concerning such violations wherever they may have
occurred.26
The port state also assumes certain obligations concerning the transfer of records
of investigations to the flag state or the coastal state at their request, and the duty to
suspend such an investigation on the request of the coastal state.
The port state may, in certain cases, prevent a vessel from sailing. It may, however,
permit the vessel to proceed, but only to the nearest appropriate repair yard.
The enforcement powers of the coastal state vary according to the position of the
ship which committed the violation and the place where the violation occurred.
The coastal state may bring proceedings in respect of any violation of its national
laws and regulations established in accordance with the projected Convention on the Law

25 China, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Somalia and Tanzania.


26 Some developing countries, being also port states, were reluctant to assume this responsibility, stressing
their inability to act in each and every case. This argument was advanced, e.g., by Singapore in the Third
Committee of UNCLOS III.
220 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

of the Sea or applicable international rules and standards concerning pollution from
vessels, when the violation has occurred within its territorial sea or its exclusive economic
zone and when the vessel is voluntarily in a port or at an off-shore terminal of that state.
It may also undertake physical inspections and, when the evidence warrants it, institute
proceedings, including the arrest of the vessel, where there are clear grounds for believing
that a vessel navigating through its territorial sea has, during that passage, violated the
above-mentioned rules and standards.
When such a violation happens in the exclusive economic zone of the coastal state
and the vessel is navigating within its exclusive economic zone or its territorial sea, then
the coastal state is entitled to require the vessel to give information of its identification,
its port of registry, and its last and next port of call, together with other relevant informa-
tion.
When, in such a case, a violation results in a substantial discharge into and in
significant pollution of the marine environment, the coastal state may undertake a physical
inspection of the vessel where information is refused, if the information supplied is
manifestly at variance with the evident factual situation, etc.
The coastal state may, in cases of flagrant or gross violations of the relevant rules
and regulations, resulting in a discharge causing major damage or the threat of major
damage to the coastline or related interests of the coastal state, bring proceedings under
its laws.
However, the coastal state must allow the vessel to proceed if it is bound by
procedures established either through the competent international organization or by
agreement between states, under which procedures a monetary bond or other appropriate
financial security has been provided.
At the 1978 Session of UNCLOS III the main discussion concerning pollution of
the sea concentrated on proposals presented by the French delegation designed to
strengthen the coastal state’s right of intervention outside its territorial sea when its marine
environment is in danger.

1.3.8. Safeguards

The ICNT sets out a number of safeguards to prevent unlawful action against vessels
accused of pollution. The inclusion of these in the ICNT was of particular concern to
the maritime powers. The articles relating to safeguards deal, inter alia, with measures
to facilitate proceedings, the exercise of powers of enforcement, the duty to avoid adverse
consequences in the exercise of powers of enforcement, the investigation of foreign
vessels, suspension and restriction on institution of proceedings, institution of civil
proceedings, monetary penalties and the observance of recognized rights of the accused,
notification to flag states and other states concerned, the liability of states arising from
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 221

enforcement measures, and safeguards with respect to straits used for international navigation.

1.3.9. Responsibility and liability; sovereign immunity; settlement of disputes

States are also made liable under international law for damage which they cause through
violation of their international obligation to combat marine pollution.
However, the anti-pollution provisions of the ICNT do not apply to state-owned or
operated ships or aircraft, including warships, used only on government non-commercial
service, although states are obliged to ensure that such vessels act in a manner consistent
with the new Convention “so far as reasonable and practicable” (Art. 237 ICNT).
For the settlement of disputes in connection with the protection and preservation of
the marine environment and the pollution of the sea, the ICNT institutes special arbitration
procedures. The powers to draw up the list of experts for this purpose are given to UNEP
and IMCO. Conciliation procedures are also envisaged by the ICNT.

1.3.10. Obligations under other conventions

When these provisions, now representing lex ferenda, become lex lata, they will be
without prejudice to the specific obligations already assumed by states under special
conventions and agreements relating to the protection and preservation of the marine
environment. Nevertheless, such special obligations should be applied in a manner
consistent with the general principles and objectives of the Conventions on the Law of
the Sea.

2. REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL LAW: THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA

Due to its specific hydrographical and ecological characteristics, the Mediterranean Sea,
as well as some other semi-enclosed seas, is particularly vulnerable to pollution. The
existing international conventions of world-wide scope do not cover, in the view of the
Mediterranean states, “all aspects and sources of marine pollution and do not entirely
meet the special requirements of the Mediterranean Sea Area” (Preamble to the Barcelona
Convention). These were the basic reasons for the conclusion of the Convention for the
Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution. The Convention was signed at
Barcelona, on 16 February 1976. At the same time two Protocols to the Convention were
adopted: the Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by
Dumping from Ships and Aircraft and the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating
222 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of
Emergency.27
The 1976 Barcelona Convention and the Protocols apply to the Mediterranean Sea
proper, including its gulfs and seas, the Black Sea being excluded. The internal waters
of the Contracting Parties are also excluded from the application of the provisions of
the Convention. Only rules of a general nature have been included in the Convention
itself. The Contracting Parties have undertaken to institute appropriate measures to
prevent, abate and combat pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from all types and sources
of pollution: discharges from ships and aircraft, exploration and exploitation of the
continental shelf and the seabed and its subsoil, and pollution from land-based sources.
It is the intention of the parties to adopt protocols containing detailed rules on different
sources of pollution. The two Protocols adopted in Barcelona in 1976 are to be followed
by protocols dealing with land-based pollution and pollution resulting from the exploration
and exploitation of the seabed and its subsoil. Although the Protocols are separate
instruments, signed and ratified separately from the Convention, because of the introduc-
tory nature of the Convention and its close link with the Protocols, the following provision
has been included in the Convention:

“No one may become a Contracting Party to this Convention, unless it becomes at the same
time a Contracting Party to at least one of the Protocols. No one may become a Contracting
Party to a Protocol unless it is, or becomes at the same time a Contracting Party to this Conven-
tion” (Art. 23, para. 1).

For the same reasons the entry into force of the Convention was subject to at least one
of the Protocols coming into force.
The Contracting Parties to this Convention have committed themselves to take,
individually and jointly, all appropriate measures to achieve the aims of the Convention.
Among the measures of co-operation envisaged, the following are mentioned: the con-
clusion of bilateral, sub-regional or regional agreements; co-operation in taking the
necessary measures for dealing with pollution emergencies; the establishment of joint
programmes for monitoring pollution; the holding of meetings by the Contracting Parties
in order to keep the implementation of the Convention and the Protocols under review,
etc.
In giving effect to their obligations to prevent and abate pollution of the Mediterranean
Sea area by dumping from ships and aircraft, the Contracting Parties to the Protocol for

27 ILM (1976) p. 285. The Convention and both the Protocols came into force on 12 February 1978, and there
are nine Contracting Parties at the moment: the European Economic Community, France, Israel, Lebanon,
Malta, Monaco, Spain, Tunisia and Yugoslavia. Each Protocol has been accepted by eight Parties; the
European Economic Community is Party only to the Protocol concerning dumping, and Israel to the Protocol
dealing with co-operation in combatting pollution.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 223

the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft
have divided all wastes and other matter into three categories. The dumping of those
listed in Annex I to the Protocol is prohibited. The dumping of wastes and other matter
listed in Annex II requires, in each case, a special prior permit, and the dumping of all
other wastes or matter requires a general prior permit from the competent national
authorities. The factor which must be considered when the permits are issued are set
out in Annex III to the Protocol and include: the characteristics and composition of the
matter and the characteristics of the dumping site, the method of deposit and general
considerations and conditions. The competent authorities of each party are to issue permits
in respect of wastes or other matter intended for dumping loaded in its territory and also
in respect of those “loaded by a ship or aircraft registered in its territory or flying its
flag, when the loading occurs in the territory of a State not Party to this Protocol” (Art.
10(2)(a)).
Each party is to apply the measures required to implement the Protocol to ships and
aircraft registered in its territory, to ships and aircraft loading in its territory or believed
to be engaged in dumping in areas under its jurisdiction. Besides those treaty provisions,
the 1976 Barcelona Conference accepted a Resolution (No. 3) inviting the parties to the
Protocol to prevail upon other states to take appropriate steps to ensure that ships flying
their flags and aircraft registered in their countries will observe the basic principles of
the Protocol.
Although basically the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution
of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency
has been drafted along the lines of the 1969 IMCO Convention Relating to the Interven-
tion on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, several important differences
between these two instruments are to be noted.
The Protocol deals not only with dangers following upon a maritime accident, but
also with every danger “due to the presence of massive quantities of oil or other harmful
substances resulting from accidental causes or an accumulation of small discharges...”
(Art. 1). The 1969 Convention is based on the individual actions taken by coastal states
while the Barcelona Protocol establishes a system of individual and joint measures
between the Mediterranean states to prevent and combat pollution. The Contracting Parties
have undertaken to maintain and promote their contingency plans and means for com-
bating pollution, to develop and apply monitoring activities covering the Mediterranean
Sea, and to disseminate relevant information concerning pollution. In order to collect
information, parties are to issue instructions to their ships and aircraft requiring them
to report all accidents likely to cause pollution, the presence of spillages of oil and other
harmful substances observed at sea which are likely to present a serious threat to the
marine environment and to the coasts.
The Mediterranean states did not want to base their collective efforts merely on
sporadic joint activities, but decided to establish regional and sub-regional oil-combating
224 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

centres in the Mediterranean area. In accordance with a Resolution (No. 7) of the


Barcelona Conference, the Regional Oil-Combating Centre for the Mediterranean has
already been established. Its headquarters are in Malta, and it is sponsored by the IMCO
and the UNEP. The main objectives of the Regional Centre are to assist Mediterranean
states to develop and strenghten their own national ability to combat oil pollution, to
facilitate the exchange of information, technological co-operation and training, and to
facilitate their co-operation in order to combat massive pollution by oil.

3. THE EMERGING SUB-REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL LAW: THE ADRIATIC


SEA

Notwithstanding that the Mediterranean states already intended to conclude a convention


for the protection of the Mediterranean Area, the Governments of Italy and Yugoslavia
were of the opinion that they had to engage in joint bilateral action to deal with the
specific pollution problems of the Adriatic. Both States are active in the common efforts
of all the Mediterranean countries, but the specific features of marine environmental
problems in the Adriatic Sea require their close co-operation in order to protect their
Adriatic waters. On 14 February 1974 the two Governments signed at Belgrade the
Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection of the Waters of the Adriatic Sea and
Coastal Zones from Pollution.28
On the basis of that Agreement a Mixed Commission for the Protection of the Waters
of the Adriatic Sea and Coastal Zones has been appointed. The Commission is entrusted
with the following tasks: to examine all questions concerning pollution of the Adriatic
Sea and coastal zones, to propose to both Governments measures necessary to prevent
and combat pollution and to submit proposals for the adoption of international regulations
designed to ensure the purity of the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Besides the right to
establish sub-commissions for the study of particular questions, the Commission is
authorized, for the purpose of obtaining more detailed scientific and technical information,
to enter into contact with international organizations concerned with the protection of
waters and with other mixed Italian-Yugoslav bodies concerned with navigation, fishing
and the management of common waters in general.
At its first meeting (Dubrovnik, 29 June–1 July 1977) the Joint Commission adopted
its Rules of Procedure and established three sub-commissions. The function of the First
Sub-Commission is co-operation in scientific research and co-ordination of the monitoring
of the Adriatic waters and coastal areas. It is entrusted with the verification of the present
state of pollution on the basis of the existing scientific research projects in both States

28 For the English translation of the Agreement, see M. Nordquist and S. Houston Lay, eds., New Directions
in the Law of the Sea, Documents – vol. VI, ed., 1977 p. 456.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 225

and with the elaboration of a detailed programme of joint monitoring of the international
waters of the Adriatic. It is also the task of this Sub-Commission to propose adequate
measures for the improvement of co-operation in scientific research in both countries.
The remit of the Second Sub-Commission is pollution of the Adriatic Sea by oil from
all sources – ships, oil refineries and other land-based oil pollution. The objectives of
this Sub-Commission are: to evaluate the results of the implementation of international
conventions accepted by the two States and dealing with pollution; to propose measures
for the better application of international regulations; to elaborate proposals for the
improvement of the safety of navigation, taking into account the specific characteristics
of the Adriatic Sea; and to propose necessary measures which the two States should take
jointly in the case of incidents which may cause grave danger to the marine environment
and the coasts of the Adriatic. In proposing such measures account must be taken of
the existing international organizations, including the Regional Oil-Combating Centre
for the Mediterranean in Malta.
Finally, there is a Third Sub-Commission dealing with legal and administrative
questions. The function of this Sub-Commission is to prepare a comparative survey of
national and international legal norms applicable to prevention and abatement of the
pollution of the Adriatic. Furthermore, on the basis of the work of the other two sub-
commissions, this Sub-Commission is to formulate proposals for necessary amendments
to municipal as well as international rules. Such proposals should take into account the
special features of the Adriatic Sea and its coasts as well as the economic interests of
both States.
All three sub-commissions met in Rovinj from 28-30 March 1978 and selected priority
issues to be dealt with in the first period of co-operation between the two neighbouring
States.
The 1974 Agreement is not the only treaty concluded between Yugoslavia and Italy
which provides for their co-operation in the protection of the environment. Their joint
efforts in this field are also mentioned in the Osimo Agreements concluded between the
two States (11 November 1975) for the final solution of the problems resulting from
the existence of the Free Territory of Trieste in the years 1947-1954.29
The existing co-operation between Italy and Yugoslavia in the field of the protection
of the Adriatic Sea anticipated the obligations of states bordering semi-enclosed seas
which appear in the informal draft of UNCLOS III mentioned above – the ICNT. Namely,
in Article 123(b) it is laid down that such states endeavour “to co-ordinate the implemen-
tation of their rights and duties with respect to the preservation of the marine environ-
ment”.

29 For the text in French and Croat: Službeni list SFRJ, Medunarodni ugovori (Official Journal of the SFR
of Yugoslavia, International Treaties), 1977, no. 1 p. 3.
226 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

4. CONCLUSIONS

Ever-growing pollution of the sea and more and more frequent and grave accidents
causing pollution prompted states to adopt, on global, regional and bilateral levels, a
number of international conventions constituting an important source of international
treaty law. Simultaneously, a certain number of general and particular norms of customary
international law has developed through the practice of states. Some norms, particularly
those of a technical nature, soon became obsolete as a result of the tremendous progress
of science and technology. Therefore, the process of revision and progressive develop-
ment, together with the new codification of relevant international norms and standards,
is taking place in the framework of the United Nations and some of its related specialized
agencies and other bodies. The most important outcome is UNCLOS III, an expression
of the building of a new general “umbrella” law of the sea treaty dealing with the
questions of the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
Hence, we can undoubtedly conclude that there is quite a comprehensive body of
lex lata and emerging lex ferenda on pollution of the sea matters. The question which
has to be answered is, consequently, whether the existing legal rules concerning pollution
of the sea and the draft articles of the ICNT adequately implement the general principles
and duties of states to protect and preserve the marine environment. Several conclusions
might be drawn about this:
1. Analysis of the legal instruments concerning different sources of pollution of the
sea shows that the bulk of legal norms is devoted to the question of the pollution
of the sea from vessels and that other sources are not yet sufficiently covered by
legal rules. In particular, dangerous pollution from land-based sources has not yet
resulted in substantial legislation, with the exception of the European Convention
for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources, concluded in Paris,
on 4 June 1974. There is a legal vacuum on pollution from seabed activities. Even
on dumping which is already legally regulated, the question has arisen whether
incineration is covered by the 1972 London Convention on Dumping.
2. The formulation of legal rules concerning pollution of the sea is the result of a
complicated process of reconciliation of different interests, which are sometimes in
conflict and are sometimes interrelated. For example, the interests of the developed
maritime powers who insisted, primarily in order to protect freedom of navigation,
on the criterion of generally accepted international rules and standards and flag state
enforcement combined with certain powers of port states are opposed to the interest
of developing states. The latter are seeking wider legal powers and enforcement by
the coastal state, which would, in certain cases, go even beyond international rules
and standards, and stress the need for their own environmental policies in connection
with the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources. Reconciliation and com-
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 227

promise formulae necessarily suffer from generalities and language which can be
interpreted according to their own interests by States Parties.
3. The widespread institution of the flag of convenience represents a special danger
to the marine environment because the states of flags of convenience do not carry
out their flag state duties properly. This institution is actually contrary to the principle
of international law prescribing a genuine link between the vessel and the flag state.
This practice ought to be reviewed and regulated so as to protect the marine environ-
ment by prevention, rather than by waiting for remedies which can never repair
damage already done.
4. Moreover, many states are not yet ready or sufficiently equipped either to carry out
their obligations or properly to protect their rights under the relevant legal rules and
standards (through lack of reception facilities, ineffective coast guard services,
inadequate monitoring services, insufficient national legislation in the field, etc.).
5. An obstacle to the fuller legal protection from pollution of the sea is the exemption
of vessels under the principle of sovereign immunity concerning warships and other
vessels or aircraft owned or operated by a state.
6. It should not be overlooked that it is not only peaceful uses of the sea and seabed
which may cause pollution, but that there are also military activities endangering
the marine environment. It is therefore very important that states ratify, adhere to
and implement the provisions of treaties like the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (5 August
1963) or the Treaty Prohibiting the Emplacement of Nuclear and Other Mass Destruc-
tion Weapons on the Seabed (11 February 1971). In addition to this adherence to
existing legal instruments, states should adopt supplementary legal measures within
the framework of disarmament efforts.
7. An analysis of the acceptance of international conventions and other instruments
designed to prevent pollution reveals that the process of ratification and adherence
by states is a slow one. There should be continued action in different forms to arouse
the sense of responsibility of the present generation to protect and preserve the marine
environment for mankind. Some positive signs of this nature can be detected, especial-
ly at recent Sessions of UNCLOS III.
8. Yugoslavia has ratified nearly all conventions concerning pollution of the sea. Besides
the acceptance of international rules on the part of Adriatic states the adherence of
many other states to international instruments is essential for the preservation of the
marine environment of the Adriatic Area. Among the states we must point out the
land-locked European states, whose ships very often use the Adriatic ports, as well
as many other states which maintain intensive maritime connections with the Adriatic
states and ports.
9. Finally, the authors are of the opinion that the international lex lata and lex ferenda
described above concerning the efforts to protect the seas and oceans from pollution
228 12 – MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

form, despite all the deficiencies mentioned, an important step forward in the direction
of closing the legal gap in the field. By the continuing progressive development and
codification of environmental international law, a new and vital part of international
law, which should offer better legal foundations for the preservation of our environ-
ment from pollution, is born.
Chapter 13

PROVISIONS OF THE DRAFT CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF


THE SEA RELATING TO THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION
OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND THE UNEP’S INVOLVEMENT
IN THEIR IMPLEMENTATION*

1. UNCLOS DRAFT CONVENTION AND THE PROTECTION AND PRESER-


VATION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT

A. Introduction

The new Law of the Sea Convention will contain provisions regulating the majority of
the uses of the marine environment: navigation, fishing, scientific research, the exploration
and exploitation of its mineral resources, etc. A great many of the provisions relating
to these uses of the sea are of environmental concern, particularly those related to the
exploration, conservation and management of natural resources, and to scientific research
and the transfer of marine technology. Faced with such a wide range of possible subject
matters on one hand, and the limited length of this report on the other, taking into account
the full range of the terms of reference and the special interest in land-based pollution,
we shall orient this report towards the Draft Convention provisions dealing specifically
with the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
Although provisions dealing with the protection and preservation of the marine
environment can be found throughout the Draft Convention, Part XII (Articles 192-237)
has been dedicated exclusively to this topic. The provisions outside that Part are usually
of a general nature in comparison with those dealing with the same subject matter
contained in Part XII (e.g. Article 56 /1/ /b/ on the protection of the marine environment
in the exclusive economic zone). Nevertheless, there are instances where the provisions
of Part XII refer to detailed rules to be found in other Parts of the Draft (e.g. to the
provisions of Part XI in relation to the pollution from activities in the Area). Only taken
together do all the Draft Convention provisions on the protection of the marine environ-
ment represent a sound international legal system.

* This text (UNEP/IG.28/Background doc. No. 5, 10 August 1981) was prepared for the Ad Hoc Meeting
of Senior Government Officials Experts in Environmental Law, held on 28 October – 6 November
1981 in Montevideo, Uruguay, and it was submitted to some other meetings organized in autumn
1981 by this UN body.
230 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

Part XII is composed of 11 Sections:


(a) Several Sections contain provisions applicable to the protection of the marine
environment in general, i.e. rules applicable to all sources of pollution: 1. General
Provisions; 2. Global and Regional Co-Operation; 3. Technical Assistance; 4. Monitoring
and Environmental Assessment; 9. Responsibility and Liability; 11. Obligations under
other Conventions and the Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment.
(b) The content of rules contained in some other Sections makes it clear that they
are applicable only to ship-generated pollution: 7. Safeguards (with some exceptions); 8.
Ice-covered areas; 10. Sovereign immunity.
(c) Finally, Section 5 (International Rules and National Legislation to Prevent, Reduce
and Control Pollution of the Marine Environment) and Section 6 (Enforcement) contain
special rules in relation to each source of pollution.
The provisions of the Draft Convention on the protection and preservation of the
marine environment could be analysed on the basis of different approaches: (a) following
the system of the present Draft; (b) describing the situation of every particular regime
at sea (territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, etc.); (c) analysing different activities
(law-making, enforcement, co-operation of states and international organizations, etc.);
(d) treating together all the provisions relating to a certain source of pollution (land-based
pollution, pollution from vessels, etc.). No one of these approaches has general advantages
in comparison with the others, and none suits to the scope of this report perfectly. Taking
into account our terms of reference, we have decided to commence this first part of the
report by a brief analysis of the general provisions on the protection of the marine
environment and afterwards to deal separately with each of the sources of pollution.
Our analysis is based on the Informal Text of the Draft Convention on the Law of
the Sea,1 in fact the sixth informal version of the Draft, prepared by the Collegium on
27 August 1980. Nevertheless, in relation to many provisions of Part XII, we have used
the terminology recommended by the Drafting Committee and adopted by the Plenary
Meeting of the Conference during the First Part of its Tenth Session (New York, 6 March-
24 April 1981).

B. General Provisions

1. Main Principles
The basic principle of this Part of the Draft Convention, as well as of the customary
law in the field (Principle 7 adopted at the 1972 Stockholm UN Conference on the Human

1 Draft Convention on the Law of the Sea /Informal Text/, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/WP.10/Rev.3 /27 August
1980/.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 231

Environment)2 is expressed in Article 192: “States have the obligation to protect and
preserve the marine environment”. A state’s sovereign right to exploit its natural resources
is also affirmed in the Draft; it has been said that this right must be exercised in accord-
ance with states’ environmental policies and their duty to protect and preserve the marine
environment (Article 193 – Stockholm Principle 21). States shall take all necessary
measures to carry out their basic duty in relation to the marine environment; to this end
they shall use “the best practicable means at their disposal” and they shall take measures
“in accordance with their capabilities...” (Article 194 /1/). It is important to underline
that the drafters of the Convention have taken into account the differences that exist
between states. The main consequence to be derived from this provision is the possibility
of differentiating between developed and developing states in relation to the interpretation
and application of some of the provisions of this Convention, as well as in regard to
future national and international actions in the field (“double standard”). Moreover, some
of the environmental provisions have already been stipulated taking into account the
special needs of developing states. Scientific and technical assistance has to be provided
to such countries. States party to the Convention shall promote programmes of scientific,
educational, technical and other assistance to developing states for the protection of the
marine environment (Article 202 /a/). The duties to provide appropriate assistance for
the minimization of the effects of major incidents and to provide appropriate assistance
concerning the preparation of environmental assessment are obligatory upon all party
states, especially in relation to developing states (Article 202 /b/ & /c/). Furthermore,
for the purpose of abating pollution, developing states shall be granted preference in the
allocation of appropriate funds and technical assistance by international organizations
and in the utilization of their specialized services (Article 203).
Apart from the principle stated in article 192, some other general principles of
environmental law have also been codified in the Draft Convention: the duty of states
to take all necessary measures to ensure that pollution arising from incidents or activities
under their jurisdiction or control: (a) does not spread beyond those areas; and (b) that
it does not cause damage to other states and their environment (Article 194 /2/). Further-
more, states are obliged not to transfer damage or hazards from one area to another, or
to transform one type of pollution into another (Article 195). They are also obliged to
take all measures necessary to protect the marine environment from pollution resulting
from the use of technologies under their jurisdiction or control, and from the introduction
of species to a particular part of the marine environment, to which they may cause
significant and harmful changes (Article 196).
All these duties of states relate to all sources of pollution of the marine environment:
land-based pollution, pollution from or through the atmosphere, pollution by dumping,

2 Declaration of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment, in: U.N. Doc. A/AC.138/SC.III/L.17,
p. 4.
232 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

pollution from vessels, pollution from installations and devices used in exploration or
exploitation of the natural resources of the sea-bed and subsoil and from other installation
and devices.
States have assumed numerous duties under the headings: “Global and Regional Co-
Operation”, “Technical Assistance” and “Monitoring and Environmental Assessment”
(Sections 2-4) which will be dealt with in the second part of this report (see p. 243),
as in the majority of provisions contained in these Sections the co-operation of states
and international organizations is envisaged.

2. Relation to Other International Rules and to National Legislation


(a) International Rules. Article 311 of the Draft contains the general provisions on the
relation of the Law of the Sea Convention to other conventions and international agree-
ments. It establishes predominance of the new Convention over all other international
obligations undertaken by states party to the Convention. The new Convention: (a)
prevails as between states party to the Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea of
1958; (b) alters their rights and obligations arising from other agreements which are not
compatible with the new Convention; (c) restricts their liberty to conclude agreements
modifying or suspending its provisions.
However, it appears that these general rules are not applicable to the relation of the
provisions of Part XII to other conventions on the protection and preservation of the
marine environment. Namely, it has been provided in Article 311(5) that the provisions
of that Article “shall not affect international agreements expressly permitted or preserved
by other articles of this Convention”, and Article 237 (Part XII) deals with “Obligations
under other conventions on the protection and preservation of the marine environment”.
Although some aspects of paragraph 5 of Article 311 are not clear, it is beyond any doubt
that Article 237 is lex specialis in relation to Article 311 as concerns the relation of the
provisions of Part XII to other international rules in the field.
In paragraph 1 of Article 237, it has been provided that the provisions of Part XII
are without prejudice to the specific obligations assumed by states under special conven-
tions and agreements concluded previously and to agreements which may be concluded
in furtherance of the general principles set forth in the Convention. This rule is in
accordance with a conception of the Law of the Sea Convention as an “umbrella treaty”
in its environmental provisions. The Convention contains only basic, general principles
on the protection of the marine environment, while provisions dealing with particular
sources of pollution, with the protection of different seas and with specific questions
in relation to the protection of the oceans should be embodied in special international
instruments. In accordance with this conception, under Article 197 states have to co-
operate “in formulating and elaborating international rules, standards and recommended
practices and procedures” for the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
States shall co-operate on a global and, as appropriate, on a regional basis; in formulating
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 233

international norms they shall take into account characteristic regional features. Their
co-operation can be direct or through competent international organizations.
However, the conception of the “umbrella treaty” also has another aspect: it envisages
the Law of the Sea Convention as a set of environmental provisions of a higher value
than other international rules, at least as between states party to the Convention. This
results from the requirement that all future international rules, standards, recommended
practices and procedures be “consistent with the Convention” (Article 197) and from
the provision that “specific obligations assumed by states under special conventions...
should be carried out in a manner consistent with the general principles and objectives
of this Convention” (Article 237 /2/). This last provision is vague, as it seems to be
inconsistent with the content of paragraph 1 of the same Article and it could affect
obligations of states party to the Law of the Sea Convention towards third states (for
whom this Convention is res inter alios acta).

(b) National Legislation. The Convention envisages that the protection and preservation
of the marine environment be regulated not only by international law (the Convention
itself and other international rules not contrary to its principles), but by national legislation
as well. The right of states to adopt laws and regulations has been provided for in relation
to all sources of pollution, but the relation of national to international law is determined
in different ways:
(i) In the case of land-based pollution (Article 207 /1/) and pollution from or through
the atmosphere (Article 212 /1/), national laws and regulations shall be adopted, “taking
into account internationally agreed rules, standards and recommended practices and
procedures”, which means only that national legislation should not differ substantially
from international law.
(ii) In relation to pollution from sea-bed activities, both within the limits of national
jurisdiction and in the Area, national legislation must not be “less effective” than inter-
national rules (Articles 208 /3/ & 209 /2/). The same formula has been employed in
relation to dumping, where national laws and regulations shall be no less effective “than
the global rules and standards” (Article 210 /6/).
(iii) As regards pollution from vessels, both the flag state and the coastal state are
entrusted with the adoption of national legislation. Regarding vessels flying their flag,
states shall adopt laws and regulations which shall at least have the same effect as
generally accepted international rules and standards (Article 211 /2/).
As concerns the right of the coastal state to enact laws for the protection of the waters
of ports or internal waters, international law does not impose any restrictions. In relation
to its territorial sea, the coastal state is limited by its obligation not to hamper the innocent
passage of foreign vessels (Article 211 /4/).
The general rule concerning the exclusive economic zone permits the coastal state
to adopt rules and regulations “conforming to and giving effect to generally accepted
234 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

international rules and standards” (Article 211 /5/). However, in two special cases the
coastal state is authorized to enact laws which are not necessarily based on existing
international law: these are the cases of specially vulnerable areas (Article 211 /6/) and
of ice-covered areas within the limit of its exclusive economic zone (Article 234).

(c) Problems of Interpretation. While dealing with the provisions on national and inter-
national legislation, we have to point out that the terms used in this respect leave much
to be desired. Perhaps least difficulty will be experienced in the implementation of the
Convention in regard to the terms “laws and regulations” used for the determination of
national legislation, although these terms are based only on an Anglo-Saxon, common
law usage and they do not satisfy the requirements of many other systems of internal
law as they do not cover all the different sources of internal law.
Much worse is the terminology used in regard to international law. As we have
mentioned above, the terms “rules, standards, recommended practices and procedures”
have been used in this regard. For illustrating the confusion that can be caused by the
use of all these terms in relation to rule-making in the field of environment protection,
it suffices to quote Gr. J. Timagenis, a very active participant in the UNCLOS negoti-
ations on pollution provisions:

“... the term ‘recommended practice and procedures’ applies to the international level and denotes
recommendatory (i.e. non binding) rules. The difference between ‘rules and standards’ is not
absolutely clear. The term ‘regulations’ seems to mean secondary national norms in contrast
to ‘laws’ denoting principal national norms”.3

By far the worst situation is created in relation to the question: when do international
norms become obligatory for states? The terms “international rules, standards and re-
commended practices and procedures” are in some instances preceded by the words
“internationally agreed” (Article 207 /1/; Article 2/2) or “generally accepted” (Articles
211 /2/ & /5/) and in some others the text refers to “applicable” international rules
(Section 6). Different interpretations could be given to these terms, but none of them
can clarify the problem of determining the moment in which an international rule is
created and the way in which it becomes enforceable with regard to a particular state.
The discussions within the Third Committee clearly demonstrate that the majority
of delegations did not consider that each particular state is obliged only by its own treaty
obligations or by duties based on customary international law. But the Conference has
not given an answer to the question: how is international law created in the field of
environmental protection for states party to the Law of the Sea Convention? Timagenis

3 Gr.J. Timagenis, International Control of Marine Pollution, Volume I, New York, 1980, footnote 44 at
p. 603.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 235

opts for a solution in which a conventional rule could be considered as being “inter-
national law”, thus applicable to all states, when the rule is ratified not only by the
minimum number of states required for its entry into force, but by a large majority of
states.4 In his view, it is not necessary that such a rule pass into customary law. Although
in accordance with the predominant view in the Conference, such an interpretation still
begs the answer to the unsolvable problem of defining the term “a great number of states”.

3. Responsibility and Liability


Besides particular rules on responsibility and liability concerning some special cases (e.g.
liability arising from enforcement measures – Article 232; responsibility and liability
in relation to activities in the Area – Article 139), Part XII contains general provisions
on responsibility and liability in the field of the protection and preservation of the marine
environment (Article 235). States are said to be responsible not only for the fulfilment
of their obligations under the Convention, but in relation to their “international obliga-
tions” in general. They shall be liable in accordance with international law. Party states
have to “ensure that recourse is available in accordance with their legal systems for
prompt and adequate compensation or other relief in respect of damage caused by
pollution of the marine environment by natural or juridical persons under their juris-
diction”. They have also taken the obligation to co-operate in the implementation of
existing international law in the field and in its further development. This provision is
based on Principle 22 adopted at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment.5

4. Settlement of Disputes
The 1958 Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea are accompanied by an Optional
Protocol of Signature Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes. The Protocol
is open to states party to any one or more of the Conventions, but their adherence to
the Protocol is optional and the Protocol is a treaty independent from the Conventions
in many aspects.
States participating in UNCLOS III have readily accepted having a system of settle-
ment of disputes included in the new Convention itself, primarily because of the necessity
for procedures entailing binding decisions upon disputes arising from the future exploita-
tion of the international sea-bed.
States party to the new Convention are obliged to settle any dispute between them
relating to the interpretation or application of the Convention, but they are free to seek
a settlement of such a dispute by peaceful means of their own choice. Any dispute where
no settlement has been reached by such agreed means shall be submitted at the request
of any party to the dispute to the court or tribunal having jurisdiction in the case (Article

4 Timagenis, op. cit., p. 606.


5 See: note 2 supra.
236 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

286). Party states are free to chose (a) the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
to be established under the provisions of the Convention; (b) the International Court of
Justice; (c) an arbitral tribunal to be constituted in accordance with the Convention; (d)
special arbitration procedure provided for in the Convention for disputes relating to: (1)
fisheries, (2) protection and preservation of the marine environment, (3) marine scientific
research, and (4) navigation, including pollution from vessels and by dumping (Article
287 /1/). For each of these fields a separate list of experts shall be established. In the
field of protection and preservation of the marine environment the list of experts shall
be drawn up and maintained by UNEP, and in the field of navigation, including pollution
from vessels and by dumping, by IMCO, or by the appropriate subsidiary body to which
UNEP or IMCO has delegated this function.
The provisions of Annex VIII to the Convention provide for the establishment of
the above mentioned lists of experts, and the constitution of a special arbitral tribunal,
its functioning and making of awards. Parties to a dispute dealt with by the special arbitral
tribunal have to comply with the award, which is final and without appeal, unless the
parties have agreed in advance to an appelate procedure.
While accepting in principle a disputes settlement system containing compulsory
procedures entailing binding decisions, states are not prepared to submit their disputes
in all fields to such procedures. That is why the Draft Convention contains a considerable
list of limitations and optional exceptions. One of the limitations relates to disputes with
regard to the exercise by a coastal state of its sovereign rights or jurisdiction. Such
disputes shall be subject to procedures entailing binding decisions in three cases only,
one of which is defined in the following terms:

“When it is alleged that a coastal State has acted in contravention of specified international
rules and standards for the protection and preservation of the marine environment which are
applicable to the coastal State and which have been established by this Convention or by a
competent international organization or diplomatic conference acting in accordance with this
Convention” (Article 297 /1//c/).

The effect of this exception to the limitation is that in the field of the protection of the
marine environment, for all disputes with regard to the rights and obligations of states
beyond the territorial seas, the Convention system of dispute settlement fully applies.

C. Different Sources of Pollution

As it has already been mentioned, two Sections of the Draft Convention deal separately
with the different sources of pollution. More precisely, two criteria in determining the
categories of pollution overlap: the criterion for determining the activity causing pollution
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 237

(sea-bed activities, dumping, navigation) and the one based on the way by which pollution
is transferred (land-based pollution, atmospherical pollution).6
The first of these two Sections deals with national and international law-making and
the second with enforcement. We shall give a concise account of these two Sections,
bearing in mind that the general problems concerning international rules and national
legislation have already been discussed (see p. 232).
It is noteworthy that a definition of the term “pollution of the marine environment”,
based on some previous international instruments, has been included in the Draft Conven-
tion. For the purposes of the Convention it has been defined as:

“the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the marine environ-
ment, including estuaries, which results or is likely to result in such deleterious effects as harm
to living resources and marine life, hazards to human health, hindrance to marine activities,
including fishing and other legitimate uses of the sea, impairment of quality for use of sea water
and reduction of amenities” (Article 1 /4/).

1. Land-Based Pollution
UNCLOS deals with this most frequent source of pollution because its effects are felt
especially in the marine environment; the Draft Convention provisions regulate land-based
pollution only in as far as it is related to the marine environment. As the sources of
pollution are land-based, i.e. they are within territorial sovereignty of states, they fall
within the realm of national laws and regulations. However, under the Draft Convention
states (coastal as well as land-locked) are obliged to adopt “laws and regulations to
prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources,
including rivers, estuaries, pipelines and outfall structures” (Article 207 /1/). States are
also bound to take other measures in order to prevent, reduce and control pollution from
land-based sources and to endeavour to harmonize their national policies at the appropriate
regional level. In contradistinction to some other sources, in relation to land-based sources
states are obliged only to “endeavour to establish global and regional rules, standards
and recommended practices and procedures”, which they shall take into account while
adopting national legislation. In establishing international norms they have to take into
account “characteristic regional features, the economic capacity of developing states and
their need for economic development” (“double standard” – Article 207 /4/). All national
and international legal norms and measures have to include “those designated to minimize,
to the fullest extent possible, the release of toxic, harmful or noxious substances, especial-
ly persistent substances, into the marine environment” (Article 207 /5/).

6 A.Ch. Kiss, La pollution du milieu marin, in: 38 Zeitschrift fur ausländisches öffentliches Recht und
Völkerrecht 908 /1978/.
238 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

The enforcement of both national and international rules remains with the states.
Under Article 213, states “shall adopt laws and regulations and take other measures
necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards...”.

2. Pollution from Sea-Bed Activities


The following provisions (Article 208) on pollution from sea-bed activities deal with
activities undertaken on the sea-bed under the jurisdiction of coastal states, in their internal
waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf. Coastal states
have to adopt laws and regulations (no less effective than international rules) and to take
other measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution arising from or in
connection with sea-bed activities subject to their jurisdiction and from artificial islands,
installations and structures under their jurisdiction. States have also to endeavour to
harmonize their national policies at the appropriate regional level and to establish global
and regional international rules.
States are entrusted with the enforcement of their own laws and regulations. Further-
more, in accordance with article 214, states shall adopt laws and regulations and take
measures necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards.

3. Pollution from Activities in the Area


Article 145, contained in Part XI, provides that with respect to such activities, necessary
measures shall be taken in order to ensure effective protection of the marine environment
from the harmful effects which may arise from such activities. To that end, the Authority
is entrusted with the adoption of rules, regulations and procedures, the purposes of which
are, inter alia: the prevention of pollution and contamination, and other hazards to the
marine environment, including the coastline, and of interference with the ecological
balance of the marine environment; the protection and conservation of the natural
resources of the Area and the prevention of damage to the flora and fauna of the marine
environment. Activities in the Area and shipboard processes which are especially danger-
ous for the marine environment are also pointed out in the Draft: drilling, dredging,
coring, excavation, as well as the disposal, dumping and discharge into the marine
environment of sediment, wastes or other affluents, and the construction and operation
or maintenance of installations, pipelines and other devices related to such activities
(Article 145 /a/; Article 17 /2/ /f/ of Annex III).
The Legal and Technical Commission, an organ of the Council, whose members shall
have appropriate qualifications relevant inter alia to the protection of the marine environ-
ment (Article 165 /1/), formulates the rules, regulations and procedures relating to the
protection of the marine environment (Article 165 /2/ /f/). It submits them to the Council,
which adopts them provisionally, pending approval by the Assembly, by consensus
(Article 162 /2//n//ii/; Article 161 /7//d/). The Assembly considers and approves the rules,
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 239

regulations and procedures by a two-thirds majority (Article 160 /2//f//ii/; Article 159
/6/; Article 17 /1//b//xii/ of Annex III).
Besides by international rules, pollution from activities in the Area has to be pre-
vented, reduced and controlled on the basis of national legislation. The requirements of
national laws and regulations shall be no less effective than international norms. National
legislation shall deal with the protection of the oceans from activities in the Area under-
taken by vessels, installations, structures and other devices flying their flag or of their
registry or operating under their authority (Article 209 /2/). Although it has not been
expressly provided for, it is clear that states shall enforce their own laws and regulations,
while the organs of the Authority shall enforce the international rules (the Council, the
Legal and Technical Commission – Article 165 /2//h/-/m/).
The organs of the Authority are entrusted with some additional functions which are
not part of the law-making process. Thus, the Legal and Technical Commission prepares
assessments of the environmental implications of activities in the Area, makes recommen-
dations to the Council on the protection of the marine environment, etc. (Article 165
/2/). The Council itself issues emergency orders to prevent serious harm to the marine
environment arising out of activities in the Area and disapproves areas for exploitation
in cases where substantial evidence indicates the risk of serious harm to the marine
environment (Article 162 /2//v/&/w/). In both cases the decision in the Council shall
be taken by three-quarters majority of the members present and voting, provided that
such a majority includes a majority of the members of the Council. However, in the case
of emergency orders approved by a three-quarters majority, they may be binding for no
more than 30 days unless confirmed by a consensus (Article 161 /7//c/). J. Schneider
rightly stresses the shortcomings of these rules which enable a small number of members,
or even a single member of the Council to prevent a decision concerning the protection
of the environment.7

4. Dumping
Here again it is up to states to adopt laws and regulations and to take other measures
(not less effective than international norms) in order to prevent, reduce and control
pollution (Article 210 /1//6/). In establishing national legislation and taking measures
against pollution, states must ensure that dumping is not carried out without the per-
mission of their competent authorities (Article 210 /3/). Dumping within the territorial
sea and exclusive economic zone or onto the continental shelf must not be carried out
without the express prior approval of the coastal state. It has the right to permit, regulate
and control such dumping after due consideration of the matter with other states which

7 J. Schneider, “Codification and Progressive Development of International Environmental Law at the Third
United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: The Environmental Aspects of the Treaty Review”, in
20 Colombia Journal of Transnational Law 264 and n. 93 (1981).
240 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

by reason of their geographical situation may be adversely affected thereby (Article 210
/5/).
Applicable international rules and standards as well as national laws and regulations
adopted in accordance with them shall be enforced: (a) by the coastal state with regard
to dumping within the areas under its jurisdiction (territorial sea, exclusive economic
zone, continental shelf); (b) by the flag state with regard to vessels and aircraft flying
its flag or of its registry; (c) by any state with regard to acts of loading of wastes or other
matter occurring within its territory or at its off-shore terminals. Nevertheless, no state
is obliged to institute proceedings when they have already been instituted by another
state in accordance with the above provisions on enforcement (Article 216).

5. Pollution from Vessels


The existence of a considerable body of treaty law enabled the UNCLOS delegates to
adopt more detailed rules in relation to vessel-source pollution than in regard to other
sources. The Draft provisions are partly a codification of existing rules, and in many
instances the Draft Convention represents the progressive development of international
law in the field. The UNCLOS solutions are compromises carefully negotiated between,
on the one hand, the developing countries and coastal states seeking primarily to protect
their coastlines and, on the other, the maritime powers, which wanted to keep the freedom
of navigation as unrestricted as possible.
The Draft envisages international rules and standards as well as legislation by states.
As we have already dealt with national legislation and its relation to international law
(see p. 233), we shall give now an outline of the delicate problem of enforcement, which
under the Draft is responsibility of the flag state, the port state and the coastal state,
depending in particular on the location of the violation.8
The flag state is bound to ensure compliance by its vessels with applicable inter-
national rules and standards and with its national legislation, and to provide for their
effective enforcement regardless of where the violation occurred. The flag state must,
in particular, take appropriate measures to implement the requirements of international
rules and standards for navigation, including those concerned with the design, construc-
tion, equipment and manning of vessels. Flag states have to impose adequately severe
penalties aimed at discouraging violation wherever they occur (Article 217).
Enforcement by the port state includes investigations and, where the evidence so
warrants, the institution of proceedings in respect of any discharge from a vessel in
violation of the applicable international rules and standards occurring outside its internal
waters, territorial sea or exclusive economic zone, when the vessel is voluntarily in a
port or at an off-shore terminal of that state. The port state shall institute proceedings
also in respect of a discharge violation in the internal waters, territorial sea or exclusive

8 Kiss, op. cit., pp. 922-924.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 241

economic zone of another state if it is so requested by that state, the flag state, or a state
damaged or threatened by the discharge violation; the port state is also entitled to com-
mence proceedings when such a discharge violation threatens its internal waters, territorial
sea or exclusive economic zone.
The port states shall, as far as practicable, comply with requests from any coastal
state to investigate discharge violations of international rules and standards within its
internal waters, territorial sea or exclusive economic zone, or from the flag state con-
cerning such violations wherever they may have occurred (Article 218). The port state
may prevent a vessel from sailing if she threatens damage to the marine environment
(Article 219).
The enforcement powers of the coastal state vary according to the position of the
ship which committed the violation and the place where the violation occurred.
The coastal state may institute proceedings in respect of any violation of its national
laws and regulations established in accordance with the Convention or applicable inter-
national rules and standards concerning pollution from vessels, when the violation
occurred within its territorial sea or its exclusive economic zone and when the vessel
is voluntarily in a port or at an off-shore terminal of that state. It may also undertake
physical inspection and, where the evidence so warrants, institute proceedings, including
detention of the vessel, where there are clear grounds for believing that a vessel navigating
through its territorial sea has, during that passage, violated the above mentioned rules
and standards.
When a violation is committed in the exclusive economic zone of the coastal state
and the vessel is navigating within its exclusive economic zone or its territorial sea, then
the coastal state is entitled to require the vessel to give information regarding its identity,
its port of registry, and its last and its next port of call, together with other relevant
information. When in such a case the violation results in a substantial discharge causing
significant pollution, the coastal state may, under some conditions, undertake physical
inspection of the vessel. If the committed violation causes major damage to the coastline
or related interests of the coastal state, or to any resource of its territorial sea or exclusive
economic zone, the coastal state may institute proceedings, including detention of the
vessel, in accordance with its laws (Article 220).
The Convention sets out a number of safeguards (Section 7) to prevent unlawful action
against vessels accused of pollution (measures to facilitate proceedings, exercise of powers
of enforcement, the investigation of foreign vessels, non-discrimination of foreign vessels,
etc.). The inclusion of these safeguards in the Convention was of particular concern to
the maritime powers.
The provisions of the Convention regarding the protection and preservation of the
marine environment unfortunately do not apply “to any warship, naval auxiliary, other
vessels or aircraft owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on
government non-commercial service” (Article 236). We share the view of A.Ch. Kiss,
242 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

that the “sovereign immunity” dealt with by Article 236 should have been restricted to
enforcement, and should not have also excluded the application of the substantive provi-
sions on the protection of the marine environment.9

6. Pollution from or through the Atmosphere


In existing international law few specific principles on this type of pollution can be
discerned in international treaties, e.g. in the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in
the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water (Moscow, August 5, 1963) and in the
Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Geneva, November 13, 1979).
For the same reasons as for pollution from land-based sources, pollution from or through
the atmosphere has been dealt with in the framework of UNCLOS III. Namely, the
noxious effects of this type of pollution are also felt in the marine environment. Under
this heading, one deals with sources of pollution within the air space under a state’s
sovereignty and with pollution from or through the atmosphere emanating from vessels
or aircraft regardless of their location, as far as such pollution affects the marine environ-
ment.
The provisions on this type of pollution rightly follow the pattern of those relating
to land-based pollution, in respect of national legislation and other measures, international
rules and enforcement, as atmospheric pollution mainly originates from land-based sources
(Article 212 & 222). Nevertheless, there are some differences between the provisions
on land-based pollution and those on atmospheric pollution. While it is perhaps justifiable
that only in respect to land-based pollution should the characteristic regional features,
the economic capacity of developing states and their need for economic development
be taken into account, in establishing international rules, standards, recommended practices
and procedures, there is no excuse for the omission of the provision, inserted in relation
to all other sources of pollution, that international rules, standards and recommended
practices and procedures shall be re-examined from time to time as necessary. One can
also question the reasons for the omission in relation to atmospheric pollution of the
provision regarding the inclusion in national as well as in international rules of rules
designed to minimize, to the fullest extent possible, the release of toxic, harmful or
noxious substances into the marine environment.

9 Ibidem, pp. 906, 907.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 243

2. PROVISIONS ON THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF THE


MARINE ENVIRONMENT OF THE UNCLOS DRAFT CONVENTION AND
THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

A. UNCLOS (III) and International Organizations

International organizations have been connected in different ways with the Third
UNCLOS, and they are expected to play various roles in the implementation of the
provisions of the new Law of the Sea Convention. The Conference itself is being held
under the auspices of the United Nations, but neither this Organization, nor the Specialized
Agencies, which participate in the work of the Conference as observers, pretend to become
parties to the Convention.
However, one of the observing intergovernmental organizations, the European
Economic Community, expressed its wish to participate in the Convention, i.e. to be
accepted as a party to the Convention. This demand is based on the fact that competences
in certain areas falling within the scope of the Convention have been transferred to the
Community from its member states. In such areas, the member states have neither the
right to enact national legislation nor to conclude international agreements. Irrespective
of a number of legal and technical problems which would be created by the simultaneous
participation in the Convention of the Community and its member states, it is likely that
not only the European Economic Community, but all international organizations being
entrusted with similar competences to the Community, will be allowed to become parties
to the Convention.10 Such organizations, although parties to the Convention, shall not
have all the rights and obligations of party states; they shall share them with their member
states.
As far as non-party international organizations are concerned, in accordance with
the law of treaties, the Convention can create rights and obligations only if the intention
of the parties was to create such rights and/or obligations for a determined organization,
and the organization accepts them. Acceptance can be expressed either in a special formal
arrangement subsequent to the conclusion of the Convention, or it can be given in an
informal way when the rights and obligations mentioned in the Convention fall under
the functions of the organization, as determined by its constitutional rules.
In any case, considerations based exclusively on the law of treaties are not of great
importance, as the organizations dealing with matters falling within the scope of the
Convention have already shown a great deal of interest in assuming the functions provided

10 Note by the President, Analytical summary of the discussions in the informal plenary on participation on
31 March and 1 April 1981, FC/25, 13 April 1981, pp. 3-7.
244 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

for international organizations under the provisions of the Draft Convention.11 The states
participating in UNCLOS share this interest in the participation of international organiza-
tions in the implementation of the Convention. At their request, a directory of intergovern-
mental organizations concerned with ocean affairs was compiled;12 they submitted a
draft declaration or resolution on international institutional arrangements in ocean
affairs;13 and the Group of 77 asked for information concerning the availability of the
UN Secretariat for the role it might assume in the application of the Convention.14
The interest expressed from both sides in the role of international organizations is
understandable: in many instances throughout the Draft Convention the tasks assigned
to organizations and their co-operation with states in the implementation of the Convention
have been mentioned.15 Although numerous international organizations able to assume
the tasks conferred on them in the Draft already exist, only in a few instances is a
particular organization mentioned. The text mainly refers to “competent international
organizations” or to “the competent international organization”. In such a situation, it
is natural that the organizations within whose functions fall the tasks assigned to inter-
national organizations in the Draft compete in order to be considered “competent organiza-
tions”. According to Kingham and McRae, there are four UN organizations that have
substantial responsibilities in respect of matters affecting the oceans (IMCO; FAO – COFI;
UNESCO – IOC; UNEP), and an additional three that have “specific, although more
subsidiary, responsibilities” (WMO, IAEA, WHO).16
In accordance with the concept of this report, we shall deal only with the provisions
of the Draft Convention where international organizations have been mentioned in relation
to the preservation and protection of the marine environment. These provisions shall be
analysed from the perspective of UNEP’s possible involvement in their implementation.

11 See: Letter from the Secretary-General of the IMCO, C.P. Srivastava to the Chairman of the Drafting
Committee of UNCLOS J. Alan Beesley, dated 23 May 1980; Communication Received from the UNEP,
U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/112 /10 April 1981/.
12 U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/L.14 /10 August 1976/.
13 U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/L.30.
14 Letter, dated 10 March 1980, addressed to the Secretary-General by the Chairman of the Group of 77;
Letter, dated 2 April 1980, addressed to the Chairman of the Group of 77 by the Special Representative
of the Secretary-General to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
15 For a detailed classification of different categories of references to international organizations in the Draft
Convention, see: S.D. Kingham and D.M. McRae, Competent international organizations and the law of
the sea, 3 Marine Policy 109 /1979/.
16 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 108.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 245

B. Annex VIII and the Repartition of the Responsibilities of International Organiza-


tions

Throughout Part XII, the term “competent international organizations” has been used
in relation to the involvement of international organizations. Nevertheless, relevant
guidance concerning the distribution of competence in the field of the protection and
preservation of the marine environment is given in Annex VIII to the Draft Convention
which deals with “Special arbitration procedure”. As has been said above (p. 236), UNEP
is entrusted with the establishment and maintenance of the list of experts for the constitu-
tion of special arbitral tribunals for disputes concerning the interpretation or application
of the provisions of the Convention relating to the protection and preservation of the
marine environment (Article 2). Although the role given to UNEP in Annex VIII is
limited to the sphere of dispute settlement, it is nevertheless a strong indication of the
UNCLOS opinion concerning general competence in the field of the preservation and
protection of the marine environment.17
However, in this connection it is necessary to note another provision of the same
Annex VIII: the list of experts in the field of navigation, including pollution from vessels
and by dumping, is to be established by IMCO.
As concerns the list of experts, the situation is clear: UNEP is entrusted with the
establishment and maintenance of the list in relation to any dispute in the field of the
protection of the marine environment, except in cases relating to pollution from vessels
and by dumping. The consequences of these provisions of Annex VIII for the general
repartition of competence among international organizations in relation to the protection
of the marine environment are less clear. In this regard, in our view, one should draw
the following conclusions:
(a) Annex VIII indicates the opinion of states participating in UNCLOS (III) that
general competence in the field of the protection and preservation of the marine environ-
ment lies with UNEP. ‘General’ with regard to the different sources of pollution as well
as with regard to the different activities envisaged in the Draft Convention for inter-
national organizations (co-operation, monitoring, law-making, etc.). This does not mean
that in relation to a certain source of pollution, a particular activity, or a specific region,
some other global or regional organization could not play a subsidiary, equal or even
priority role simultaneously with the UNEP activity.
(b) The competence given to IMCO in Annex VIII, in the field of pollution from
vessels and by dumping is an indication of the view that this Specialized Agency should
have prior responsibility for these two sources of pollution. A partial confirmation of
such an interpretation can also be found in the relevant substantive provisions relative
to pollution from vessels. Namely, it is only in relation to this type of pollution that “the

17 Ibidem, pp. 108, 109.


246 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

competent international organization”, and not “competent international organizations”,


is mentioned (Articles 211, 217 & 218). The reason for the use of singular in these articles
was the opinion that IMCO should be entrusted with responsibilities in respect to vessel-
source pollution. Nevertheless, this position, in our view, should not prevent other
organizations, especially those engaged in regional endeavours, from dealing with pollu-
tion from vessels.

C. UNEP’s Involvement in the Implementation of Part XII

The tasks envisaged for “competent international organizations” in Part XII relate to all
three of UNEP’s functional tasks: environmental assessment, environmental management,
and supporting measures. In many instances the functions of international organizations
as envisaged in the Draft Convention contain elements of more than one of UNEP’s tasks,
and in some cases the reference to organizations is of a general nature.
Article 197, providing for the co-operation of states, directly or through international
organizations, in establishing international environmental law is also considered to be
the norm which institutes overall co-operation of states and international organizations
in the field of the protection and preservation of the marine environment. It is noteworthy
that when this general aspect of Article 197 is commented upon, the lead role of UNEP
is pointed out.18 This is a correct interpretation of the place UNEP should have in
relation to the provisions of Sections 2-4 (Global and Regional Co-operation, Technical
Assistance, Monitoring and Environmental Assessment): wherever competent international
organizations are mentioned, besides the specific present and future responsibilities of
UNEP, FAO, IMCO, and other organizations, one should always bear in mind the general
co-ordinative role assigned to UNEP.

1. Environmental Assessment
(a) Monitoring and Assessment. The duty of states in relation to monitoring has been
very cautiously stipulated: “States shall, consistent with the rights of other States, en-
deavour, as far as practicable... observe, measure, evaluate and analyse, by recognized
methods, the risks of effects of pollution of the marine environment”. They shall accom-
plish their task “directly or through the competent international organizations” (Article
204 /1/). Besides this task assigned to international organizations, they shall be provided
with states’ reports on the surveillance of those activities liable to cause pollution of the
marine environment. The organizations should make such reports available to all states
(Article 205). They shall equally receive states’ reports on the assessment of the potential

18 Kiss, op. cit., p. 925.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 247

effect on the marine environment of planned activities under their jurisdiction (Article
206).
At the request of the participating delegations, UNCLOS was informed about the
Global Environmental Monitoring System – “GEMS” – at its Third Session.19 Although
global in its scope, “GEMS” takes into account the frequent necessity for monitoring
on a regional basis, which has also been confirmed by some regional instruments.20
There is no doubt that this monitoring system should be used in the implementation of
the UNCLOS conception of monitoring, assessment and information exchange. However,
one should bear in mind the remark made in this respect by Kingham and McRae. They
stressed the necessity of coordinating “GEMS” with the monitoring activities of other
agencies organised through the Integrated Global Ocean Station System (IGOSS) and
to provide for easy access by all states to the results of monitoring programmes. Their
suggestion is that the role of acting as a clearing house for information about monitoring
programmes could be assumed by UNEP, perhaps as an adjunct to “GEMS”.21

(b) Research and Information Exchange. The competent international organizations are
envisaged as the centre for the co-operation of states (besides direct inter-state co-
operation) in “promoting studies, undertaking programmes of scientific research and
encouraging the exchange of information and data acquired about pollution of the marine
environment” (Article 200). A wide range of international organizations could be con-
sidered as competent within the meaning of this Article, as well as in respect to Article
201 which provides for the duty of international organizations to assist inter-state co-
operation in establishing appropriate scientific criteria for the formulation and elaboration
of international rules. Nevertheless, in principle, the subsumption of preliminary scientific
work and the elaboration of international rules in the same field within one international
organization seems desirable.

2. Environmental Management
(a) Environmental Law

(i) Rulemaking
The basic provision in relation to the further development of international law consistent
with the Convention is contained in Article 197. The duty of states to co-operate in
formulating and elaborating international rules, standards and recommended practices

19 Third UNCLOS, Official Records, Volume IV, Third Session, Third Committee, 19th meeting, p. 88; U.N.
Doc. A/CONF.62/C.3/L.23.
20 See: U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/C.3/L.23, paragraph 13; Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of the
Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution, Article 4 of the Protocol Concerning Co-Operation in Combating
Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances.
21 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 121.
248 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

and procedures can be realized by their direct co-operation or through “competent


international organizations”. As co-operation on a global basis as well as co-operation
on a regional level is mentioned, it is obvious that global, as well as regional international
organizations could be the fora through which inter-state co-operation in the development
of international law could be realized. Equally, an organization of a global character could
be the proper body for the establishment of regional rules.
“Diplomatic conference” is not mentioned in this introductory provision, but in the
following clauses concerning international legislation in regard to different sources of
pollution, “diplomatic conference” is used as an alternative way of realizing a state’s
duty to establish international rules, besides the possibility of acting through “competent
international organizations”. In fact “diplomatic conference” has replaced “direct co-
operation of States”, only mentioned in connection with international legislation in Article
197, although it seems that the possibility for other forms of inter-state co-operation has
been left open, as in all the subsequent Articles “competent international organizations”
and “diplomatic conference” are preceded by the word “especially”, i.e. states are free
to choose other paths for the establishment of international rules besides the use of
international organizations and diplomatic conferences.
In accordance with our conclusions based on Annex VIII, UNEP should be considered
as the appropriate international agency to assume the task mentioned generally in Article
197 and elaborated in Articles 207-212 in respect of particular sources of pollution.
However, the redistribution of competence of international organizations in future rule-
making will be determined by the final text and the interpretation given to the relevant
provisions of the Convention, and by the present activities of the organizations and their
adjustment to the new realities created by the adoption of the Law of the Sea Convention.
We shall now proceed to an examination of the specific situation in relation to each
particular source of pollution from UNEP’s perspective.
Land-Based Sources. In his address to the Third Committee of UNCLOS on
9 August 1974, the UNEP representative expressed the view that the “convention could
recognize UNEP as the appropriate forum for the international community of States in
its endeavour to establish, both at the regional and global levels, standards, rules and
regulations for the prevention of marine pollution from land-based sources”.22 Represen-
tatives of the USA and Kenya supported this view.23
The interest shown on the part of UNEP, the acceptance of the offer by delegations
and UNEP’s record (e.g. the Mediterranean Protocol) leave no doubt that UNEP can
be considered as the main organization in the field of international law-making concerning
land-based pollution.24

22 Third UNCLOS, Official Records, Volume II, Second Session, Third Committee, 14th meeting, p. 371.
23 Ibidem.
24 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 116.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 249

Sea-Bed Activities. It is beyond any doubt that UNEP’s efforts in filling the gap in
international law in respect of this source of pollution qualify this agency for assuming
further responsibilities in relation to establishing international rules. The steps taken in
order to prepare a Protocol to the Barcelona Convention concerning Pollution resulting
from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf, the Sea-bed and its Subsoil
(i.e. the IJO/ UNEP joint Project and the 1978 Rome Meeting of Experts on the Legal
Aspects of Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf
and the Seabed and Subsoil in the Mediterranean) as well as the Study on the Legal
Aspects Concerning the Environment related to Offshore Mining and Drilling carried
out within the Limits of National Jurisdiction already represent a great contribution by
UNEP to the formulation of future regional and global rules on pollution resulting from
sea-bed activities. UNEP is therefore qualified to be considered the principal “competent
international organization”, especially if its record is compared with the inactivity of
other organizations in relation to this source of threats to the marine environment.
Kingham and McRae also recognize the leadership of UNEP; in their view the IOC and
the International Sea-Bed Authority should play a supporting role in this field.25
Activities in the Area. Rules, regulations and procedures in respect to the protection
of the marine environment from dangers resulting from activities in the Area shall be
established by the organs of the Authority, in the way described above (p. 238-239).
Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that the Authority should in questions of environ-
mental protection co-operate with UNEP, which has been established as a focal agency
for environmental action and co-ordination within and even beyond the United Nations
system. In this particular question, such co-operation is particularly to be recommended
because of UNEP’s present activity in relation to the formulation of principles concerning
sea-bed activities. The possibility of co-operation of the Authority with other international
organizations has been provided for in the Draft Convention. The Secretary-General of
the Authority shall make suitable arrangements, with the approval of the Council, for
consultation and co-operation with international organizations. Procedures shall be
established for obtaining the views of such organizations in appropriate cases (Article
169). The Council itself shall enter into agreements with the United Nations or other
international organizations on behalf of the Authority and within its competence, subject
to approval by the Assembly (Article 162 /2//f/).
Dumping. In relation to dumping, as in all other instances, except for pollution from
vessels, “competent international organizations” have been referred to as a framework
for inter-state co-operation in establishing “global and regional rules...” (Article 210/41).
As we have already mentioned, IMCO is entrusted with the establishment of the list of
experts in the field of dumping (Annex VIII). One should not draw the conclusion on
the basis of this solution and the fact that the contracting parties to the 1972 London

25 Ibidem, p. 112.
250 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

Dumping Convention have entrusted the secretariat functions in respect of the Convention
to IMCO, that IMCO is the sole “competent international organization” in respect to
rulemaking concerning dumping. IMCO’s lead role could be accepted as far as global
international rules are concerned, but the activities of other international organizations,
especially in relation to regional rules, cannot be neglected. That is why we are of the
opinion that the UNCLOS provisions on dumping can by no means be interpreted as
affecting UNEP’s activities concerning regional rules on dumping.
Pollution from Vessels. The lead responsibility of IMCO in respect to this source
of pollution is affirmed in the Draft Convention not only by Annex VIII, but also by
the substantive provisions on pollution from vessels, where the term “the competent
international organization or general diplomatic conference” has been used. On the basis
of the IMCO’s achievements in regard to ship-generated pollution and the opinions
expressed by UNCLOS delegates, it is clear that in this field, at least as general rules
are concerned, the lead role of IMCO should not be questioned.
The situation is somewhat more complicated in relation to the international rules
on special areas in the exclusive economic zone. Although here too “the competent
international organization” is mentioned, in relation to consultations with the coastal state,
determining whether special conditions in the area really exist, and the elaboration of
international rules for special areas, several delegations have expressed the view that
IMCO should not be regarded as the sole competent international organization for this
matter.26 Kingham and McRae are of the opinion, which we share, that “primary or
lead responsibility should be vested in IMCO, with adequate interagency coordinating
mechanisms to ensure that other agencies, such as UNEP, FAO, IOC, IAEA, and WMO,
are consulted on each request for the approval of special rules”.27 The elaboration of
the Protocol on the Protection of Special Areas in the Mediterranean proves the soundness
of this view.
There is another provision in the Draft Convention where “the competent international
organization” is mentioned, although, in our view, more organizations could be competent.
Namely, in Article 60 /5/ it is provided that the competent international organization
can recommend that the safety zone established around an artificial island, installation
or structure exceed a distance of 500 metres. As such a recommendation must take into
consideration not only the requirements of navigational safety, but also the different
activities carried out by such islands, installations and structures, not only IMCO should
be competent.
The conclusion reached in respect of special areas and safety zones, as well as the
necessity for leaving open the possibility for at least a supporting role for other organiza-

26 Third UNCLOS, Official Records, Volume VI, Fifth Session, Third Committee, 32nd meeting, p. 108 /
Tanzania/, p. 109 /Kenya/, p. 110 /Somalia/; 33rd meeting, p. 114 /Pakistan/, p. 115 /Kenya/.
27 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 117.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 251

tions in ship-generated pollution in general, are, in our view, valid reasons for seeking
the replacement of the term “the competent international organization” by the words
“competent international organizations” throughout the provisions of Article 212. The
ongoing activities of UNEP within its Regional Seas Programme, where norms concerning
vessel-source pollution are not excluded, justify such a change in the Draft Convention.
Pollution from or through the Atmosphere. UNEP’s involvement in respect to atmos-
pheric pollution is warranted by its general mandate, the absence of another agency with
primary responsibility in this field and the fact that the sources of atmospheric pollution
are mainly land-based.
Responsibility and Liability. A state’s duty to co-operate in formulating and elabora-
ting international norms for the protection and preservation of the marine environment
(Article 197) is not limited only to rules preventing, reducing and controlling pollution
of the oceans from various sources. States also have to co-operate in “the further develop-
ment of international law relating to responsibility and liability...” (Article 235/3/). Here
the possibility of co-operating through international organizations is not mentioned. This
omission should be rectified, as there is no reason for such a deviation in Article 235
from the general pattern in which all other provisions concerning the development of
international law have been drafted. Even under the present drafting, though, nothing
can prevent states and international organizations from acting jointly in the furtherance
of international law on responsibility and liability in the field of the protection of the
marine environment. UNEP has already undertaken some preliminary research in the
field,28 and it should expand its efforts on a regional as well as global level in accord-
ance with the Objectives of the UNEP Environmental Law Programme and its Goal 20
for 1982. In any case, in all efforts to establish specific rules in relation to the protection
of the marine environment, the work of the International Law Commission on general
rules on state responsibility should be taken into account.
Other Responsibilities. Besides the above-mentioned tasks that should be assumed
by UNEP in the further development of international law in the field of the protection
of the marine environment, some other duties of a coordinating and supporting nature
should not be neglected.
In our view, it should be considered as UNEP’s responsibility to try to clarify the
ambiguities and fill in the gaps in environmental law. Existing international law in relation
to the protection of the seas, the content of the new Convention, future international rules
established on the basis of the Convention, and the interrelation of all these international
norms, as well as their relation to national laws will very often require interpretation
and clarification if disputes are to be avoided. UNEP’s general mandate renders this
organization responsible for the harmonious development of environmental law in the
field of protection of the marine environment as well. It is thus with good reason that

28 UNEP/IG.14/INF.17, Annex H, pp. 16-20.


252 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

Kingham and McRae attribute to UNEP the role of “identifying gaps within the field
of the protection of the marine environment and stimulating action by the appropriate
organization...”.29
As concerns the Law of the Sea Convention, if UNCLOS itself does not clarify the
ambiguities caused by the use of terms such as “generally accepted”, “internationally
agreed”, “applicable” and similar terms (see p. 234), it should be the responsibility of
UNEP (groups of experts, etc.) to assist states in the interpretation of such terms in
relation to particular international rules.
UNEP’s Register of International Conventions and Protocols in the Field of the
Environment and its Supplements give very useful information concerning the status of
treaties of environmental concern.30 One could envisage a special document containing
data concerning the status of international treaties (global, regional, subregional) in the
field of the protection and preservation of the marine environment: law of the sea treaties;
specific treaties on the protection of the oceans; treaties concerning the limitation of
military activities threatening the marine environment; other treaties applicable to the
protection of the oceans.
A compilation of texts containing international rules and standards on the prevention,
reduction and control of the pollution of the marine environment from different sources
of pollution based on the system of the new Law of the Sea Convention (Articles 207-212
& 235) would be a very useful publication. Such a publication should be re-edited from
time to time as necessary.

(ii) Enforcement
Concerning the enforcement of national legislation, the Draft Convention is explicit: states
shall enforce their laws and regulations. In several instances it has been made clear that
states shall enforce international rules too: (a) with respect to pollution by dumping
(Article 216); (b) the flag state with respect to vessel-source pollution (Article 217 /1/&/
4/); (c) the coastal state with respect to vessel-source pollution in regard to vessels
voluntarily in their ports (Article 218 /1/).
In respect to pollution from land-based sources (Article 213), pollution from sea-bed
activities (Article 214), and pollution from or through the atmosphere (Article 222), the
right of states to enforce international rules can be deduced from their competence to
“adopt laws and regulations and take other measures necessary to implement applicable
international rules and standards...” (i.e. Article 213).31 In relation to these sources of

29 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 119; See also: V. Vukasović, Zaštita i unapredenje čovekove sredine –
medunarodnopravno regulisanje, Beograd, 1980, p. 119.
30 UNEP/GC/INFORMATION 5/Supplements 1-4; UNEP/GC.9/5/Add.1.
31 Gr.J. Timagenis, Marine Pollution and the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: The
Emerging Regime of Marine Pollution, London, 1977, pp. 34 & 38.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 253

pollution, international organizations shall be entrusted with enforcement only as provided


for in the international rules themselves.
The role of international organizations in respect to enforcement has been mentioned
explicitly in only a few instances. The first is the duty of the flag state to inform “the
competent international organization” of action taken at the request of another state to
investigate a violation alleged to have been committed by a vessel flying its flag (Article
217 /7/). The organization in question is IMCO, as the practice of notifying IMCO in
such cases has already been established. A further reference to “the competent inter-
national organization” is made in Article 220 /7/ which deals with the establishment of
procedures to ensure compliance with requirements for bonding or other arrangements
for financial security. We concur with the opinion expressed by Kingham and McRae
that this role is also for IMCO.32
Article 223 contains a reference to “the competent international organization” in
relation to proceedings instituted in respect to violations of rules on the protection of
the marine environment. States have to take measures to facilitate the admission of
evidence submitted by “the competent international organization” and to facilitate the
attendance at such proceedings of official representatives of the organization. Although
the singular has been used in this provision in respect to international organizations,
Kingham and McRae are of the opinion that Article 223 contains a “general reference
to the organizations responsible for the various aspects of marine pollution” and that
is why they conclude:

“The organization to which this provision refers will depend upon the nature of the violation.
Thus, if the violation involves vessel-source pollution or dumping, the organization will be
IMCO, if it involves atmospheric or land-based source pollution, the organization would be
UNEP.”33

Although the scope of Article 223 is not expressly limited to vessel-source pollution,
the facts that the term “the competent international organization” is used and that the
whole Section on safeguards is to be considered as inserted in the Draft in order “to make
sure that freedom of navigation is maintained along with ensuring environmental protec-
tion and preservation” warrant doubts of the plausibility of the conclusions reached by
Kingham and McRae.34
Finally, in respect to pollution resulting from activities in the Area, enforcement of
international rules, regulations and procedures shall lie with the organs of the Authority.

32 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 118.


33 Ibidem.
34 See: J. Schneider, Codification and Progressive Development of International Environmental Law at the
Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, pp. 15, 16; B. Bohte and B. Vukas, International
Law and the Pollution of the Sea, in: 3 Hague – Zagreb Essays, The Hague, 1980, p. 156.
254 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

(iii) Settlement of Disputes


Annex VIII, dealing with special arbitration procedure and UNEP’s responsibility for
establishing and maintaining the list of experts in the field of protection and preservation
of the marine environment has already been discussed (see p. 236). This list shall be
composed of two experts nominated by every party state, whose competence in the legal,
scientific or technical aspects of the protection of the marine environment is established
and generally recognized and who enjoy the highest reputation for fairness and integrity.
Only the party which made the nomination has the right to withdraw the name of an
expert from the list, provided that such an expert shall continue to serve until the comple-
tion of any case in which that expert has begun to serve (Article 2). If the parties to a
dispute do not agree otherwise, the special arbitral tribunal shall consist of five members.
They shall “preferably”, but not necessarily, be chosen from the appropriate list
(Article 3).
The role of experts nominated to the list under the provisions of Annex VIII is not
only to sit as members of the special arbitral tribunal. In disputes involving scientific
or technical matters, any court or tribunal exercising jurisdiction under the provisions
of the Convention (see p. 236) may select not less than two scientific or technical experts
from the appropriate list prepared in accordance with Annex VIII, to sit with such court
or tribunal but without the right to vote. The court or tribunal shall engage such experts
at the request of a party to the dispute or on its own initiative, and in consultation with
the parties (Article 289).

(b) Contingency Planning


In cases of imminent or actual damage, states have to notify other states they deem likely
to be affected by such damage, as well as the competent international organizations
(Article 198). Here again the question arises of which is the “competent international
organization”. There is no definite answer at present; neither organization has exclusive
competence in this regard. Kingham and McRae suggest two alternative approaches. The
first would be to notify only the organization within whose field of competence the form
of pollution that is threatening the marine environment occurs. The second would be
to designate one organization to be notified in every case; this organization in turn could
notify the others concerned with that type of pollution.35
In view of the promising developments on the regional level (Mediterranean, Kuwait
Action Plan Region, West and Central African Region), where regional arrangements
exist, the best solution would be to notify the regional centre and the international
organizations involved in the regional programme, and through them other competent
organizations. Nevertheless, as regional solutions cannot be expected to materialize all

35 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 119.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 255

over the world, a central agency for such notification should be determined or created.
UNEP might envisage the extension of “GEMS” activities to this field also.
When imminent or actual danger is notified, states in the area affected and the
competent international organization have to co-operate in eliminating the effects of
pollution and preventing or minimizing damage. States are expected to develop and
promote jointly contingency plans (Article 199). The list of international organizations
obliged to act in the case of imminent danger cannot be exhaustive. Although international
organizations are not expressly mentioned in relation to the development of contingency
planning, the states’ joint efforts should be through international organizations.

(c) Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Seas


Different theories and claims had been advanced by states and scholars in relation to
the regime of “closed”, “internal”, “semi-enclosed”, etc. seas.36 UNLOS (III) recognized
the necessity for having some specific provisions on “enclosed or semi-enclosed seas”
and has elaborated a modest set of rules for such seas. Besides a vague definition of
an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea”, based on their small surface area and the poor
connection of such seas with other seas (Article 122), Part IX contains only one additional
Article on co-operation between states bordering on such seas (Article 123). These states
should co-operate with each other in the performance of their rights and duties under
the Convention. To this end, they shall endeavour to co-ordinate their activities with
respect to the living resources of the sea, the protection and preservation of the marine
environment and scientific research. Co-operation can be realized directly or through
an appropriate regional organization. The result of such preliminary co-operation may
be an invitation to other interested states or international organizations to co-operate with
states bordering an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea or with the appropriate regional
organization (Article 123 /d/).
The most useful global international organizations for such regional co-operation
would be the organizations sponsoring regional projects, such as UNEP’s Regional Seas
Programme. Co-operation with international organizations is not limited to a certain type
of activity in relation to the protection of the enclosed or semi-enclosed seas; therefore,
co-operation may include: research, monitoring, technical assistance, rulemaking, informa-
tion exchange, etc. Because of the general scope of the provisions concerning co-operation
with regard to the protection of the marine environment, and even more so because of
the link between co-operation in this field and co-operation with respect to the manage-
ment of living resources and scientific research policies, we have considered the provisions
on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas under the heading “Environmental Management”.

36 See: B. Vukas, Enclosed and Semi-Enclosed Seas, Iranian review of international relations, 1978, nos.
11-12, pp. 171-197.
256 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

3. Supporting Measures: Technical Assistance


The Convention provisions on technical assistance involve international organizations
in two ways. They are considered to be the proper forum for the realization of the states’
obligation to provide scientific and technical assistance and, on the other hand, they have
duties of their own in respect of developing states (Article 203).
We have already mentioned the duties of states in the field of the scientific and
technical assistance (see p. 231), the purpose of which is mainly to benefit developing
states. Some specific means of rendering such assistance are enumerated in Article 202
/a/: training of personnel, facilitating the participation of developing states in relevant
international programmes, supply of equipment and facilities, etc.
The direct obligation of international organizations consists in granting developing
states preference in the allocation of appropriate funds and technical assistance and in
the utilization of the special services of international organizations (Article 203).
The current activities of several organizations correspond to the UNCLOS clauses
concerning the role of international organizations in the field of technical assistance
(UNEP, IOC, FAO, IMCO, WMO, UNDP). Some specific activities in the field are
pointed out by Kingham and McRae as being of special interest for UNEP: scientific
and technical programming for the preservation of the marine environment; assistance
in minimizing the effects of incidents causing pollution; assistance in the preparation
of environmental assessment.37 Preferential treatment for developing states, in accordance
with Article 203, should be taken into account in relation to the Environment Fund.

3. UNEP AND THE FOLLOW-UP OF THE UNCLOS DRAFT CONVENTION

The above analysis of the UNCLOS provisions on the protection and preservation of
the marine environment and of the role of international organizations in their implementa-
tion also includes the pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources. The
special provisions on this source of pollution of the oceans have also been commented
upon (p. 237). In this, the third part of the report we shall add only a few remarks war-
ranted by the specific features of this type of pollution.
Land-based pollution, considered as the most serious threat to the oceans, does not
originate from an area where the dominance of the common interests of states and of
international law over particular interests and national legislation has been recognized.
The sources of this type of pollution are situated within the territories of states or in some
other areas within their jurisdiction.38 On the other hand, as the harmful effects of land-

37 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 120.


38 Cf. Article 4 of the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against pollution from Land-Based
Sources, 19 International Legal Materials, 870.
VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 257

based pollution are mainly felt in the marine environment, the obligations of states in
relation to this source of pollution are part of their general obligation to protect and
preserve the marine environment. This obligation relates to all the marine areas under
the sovereignty or jurisdiction of states as well as to the international sea areas.
The particularities of land-based pollution have influenced all the international
instruments elaborated up to now, including the UNCLOS Draft Convention. The
UNCLOS Articles dedicated to land-based pollution, although maintaining the general
structure of other Articles dealing with rule-making and enforcement (see p. 237),
underline the relevance of a state’s situation and its own decisions: national laws and
regulations shall be adopted “taking into account internationally agreed rules...” which
states “shall endeavour to establish...”, taking into account “the economic capacity of
developing States, and their need for economic development” (Article 207). Many of
the basic provisions of special treaties on land-based pollution do not contain precise
legal obligations upon states in relation to the prevention, reduction and control of
pollution from land-based sources, but rather plans for further co-operation in establishing
concrete obligations. I.e. states party to the Protocol for the Protection of the
Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources have not accepted common
standards concerning the most dangerous substances, but only the obligation to “elaborate
and implement, jointly or individually, as appropriate, the programmes and measures”
which shall include, in particular “common emission standards and standards for use”
(Article 5). They have not adopted criteria, but promised to “formulate and adopt
progressively” guidelines, standards or criteria dealing with pipelines for coastal outfalls,
special requirements for effluents requiring separate treatment, etc. (Article 7).
In such a situation, further activities in establishing international “rules, standards
and recommended practices and procedures” in this field require more flexibility and
tenacity than activities with regard to other sources of pollution. Because of the varying
regional characteristics and different attitudes of states, regional and subregional solutions
should be more easily attainable than global rules, standards and practices. Moreover,
besides the establishment of international norms, the harmonization and unification of
the national legislation of neighbouring states should also be envisaged as a useful method
in improving the legal regulation of land-based pollution. The co-operation of Italy and
Yugoslavia, on the basis of their 1974 Agreement for the Protection of the Waters of
the Adriatic Sea and Coastal Zones from Pollution,39 is expected to lead to the
harmonization of the national policies and legislation of the two neighbouring states.
UNEP should assist states in formulating and elaborating international law, but should
also help them in the further development of their national law. To this end, taking into
account states’ reluctance to accept stringent international rules and often even to enforce

39 New Directions in the Law of the Sea, Documents, Volume VI, Compiled and Edited by R. Churchill, M.
Nordquist and S. Houston Lay, 1977, p. 456.
258 13 – LOS CONVENTION AND UNEP

existing national legislation, UNEP should concentrate its efforts upon providing states
with evidence concerning the noxious effects of pollution from land-based sources. That
is why assessment, monitoring, scientific research, and exchange of information should
be fields for UNEP’s immediate action, even beyond the Regional Seas Programme
activities. Furthermore, UNEP, together with some other agencies (UNDP, FAO, WHO,
etc.), should undertake studies elucidating the link and correlation between the protection
of the marine environment and economic development, especially in relation to developing
states. All these activities should assist states in harmonizing their policies in relation
to the abatement of land-based pollution, and in enhancing their co-operation, directly,
or through international organizations.
As concerns the development of international law in relation to land-based pollution,
one should not envisage only rules, standards, practices and procedures to prevent, reduce
or control pollution, but also the elaboration of principles of responsibility and liability
which should take into account the particularities of land-based pollution (i.e. the diffi-
culties in tracing the link between the source of pollution and the damage). Contrary
to rules and standards established for the prevention of pollution, the international rules
on responsibility and liability should preferably be global.

4. FINAL REMARKS

The tasks assigned to international organizations in the UNCLOS Draft Convention are,
as we have seen in the field of the protection of the marine environment, very rarely
allocated to a particular organization. The present activities of such organizations and
the discussions in the Conference can in some cases help in identifying the appropriate
organization.
Although we can accept the argument that precise assignment of responsibility in
a particular sphere of co-operation in every case would also not be an ideal solution,
the present unclear situation in relation to the future role of international organizations
in the implementation of the Law of the Sea Convention is not satisfactory at all. Different
solutions for the clarification of this question can be envisaged; attempts in this direction
could be made in the future work of the Conference, in the Preparatory Commission
to be established in order to prepare the functioning of the Authority, in the General
Assembly of the United Nations, in a special meeting of states parties to the Convention,
etc.40
In our view, the first path should be chosen: UNEP and other interested international
organizations should raise this problem at the Resumed Tenth Session of the Conference,
in August 1981. The agenda of that Session will probably not be overburdened and the

40 Kingham, McRae, op. cit., p. 127.


VIII – PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 259

main bodies of the Conference could allocate sufficient time to a discussion of this matter.
The interest of international organizations in their own role in the implementation of
the Convention would, on the other hand, be an incentive to the Conference, faced at
present with the most dangerous crisis since its convening.
We do not think that significant changes could be made in the Draft Convention itself.
One could suggest the elaboration of an annex to the Convention clarifying the role of
international organizations, the formulation of a special resolution to be accepted by the
Conference to this purpose, or the inclusion of another text on this matter in the Final
Act of the Conference. Anyhow, even if this effort does not result in the elaboration
of a text, the discussion itself would assist organizations and states in elucidating the
role the Conference wanted to assign to particular organizations. It is not impossible that
the discussion would reveal the necessity for creating some joint, inter-agency bodies
or the establishment of some new forms of co-operation among international organizations.
The variety of the existing organizations and their ongoing activities exclude the need
for the creation of new organizations, at least at the global level.
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IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS
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Chapter 14

ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS*

As a result of the development and expansion of the international law of the sea, the
specific features of individual sea areas, the sea-bed and subsoil thereof, and even the
coasts are increasingly being taken into account in formulating new rules. Several general
legal regimes of the sea (internal waters, continental shelf) are based on these specific
features, and special rules have been worked out for some specific situations (straits,
channels). Needless to say, these rules, too, represent a compromise solution with respect
to the varied interests of States in the spheres of navigation, economics, security, etc.
At the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea efforts have been
continued to expand and adapt the law of the sea to recent developments concerning
the interests of individual groups of States and the international community as a whole.
A new régime is being created for the sea-bed and the ocean floor and sobsoil thereof
beyond the limits of national jurisdiction; a special regime for archipelagic waters is being
increasingly recognized, the rules on straits perfected, etc.

1. A SURVEY OF CLAIMS MADE EARLIER

Even in the course of preparations for the Conference, the Committee on the Peaceful
Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction
endorsed the idea that it was necessary to draw up special rules for “enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas”. This question was incorporated into the list of items submitted for
consideration to the Conference by its Second Committee.1 It had not been debated upon
at the earlier conferences for the codification of the law of the sea, but requests to accord

* First published in Iranean Review of International Relations, The New Law of the Sea, After New
York, before Geneva, Special Issue, Nos 11-12, Spring 1978.
1 UN Doc.: A/AC.138/52 and Add.1; A/AC.138/56; A/AC.138/58; A/AC.138/66; A/CONF.62/29.
264 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

some inland seas a special status were often made.2 However, such requests were based
on various reasons and on different legal constructions.
a) According to the general rules on bays (Art. 7 of the 1958 Geneva Convention
on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone) some seas qualify for being proclaimed
internal waters. This is also applicable to any large sea whose coasts, including those
bordering its entrance, belong to one State alone, and the width of the entrance does not
exceed twenty-four miles. Such seas are referred to as “internal”, but also as “enclosed”
seas.3 The best known example of such seas today is the Sea of Azov, while earlier it
was the Zuider Zee.4
b) A large number of States claim as their internal waters also those bays which do
not meet the general requirements set by international law for a bay to be treated as the
internal waters of the State bordering all its coasts. Such claims are justified by “historic
titles”, by which is understood a combination of the most varied grounds: discovery of
the bay by the nationals of a country, continuous and exclusive utilization of its waters
and coasts by the nationals of the coastal State, the bay’s importance for the security
of the coastal State, recognition by other States, etc., etc.5 Examples of such “historic”
bays are Egypt’s Arabs Gulf, Great Britain’s Bristol Bay and Moray Firth, Canada’s
Hudson Bay, the Soviet Union’s Peter the Great Bay and the Riga Gulf, etc.
However, in addition to the right to historic bays, various States invoke such historic
titles to lay claims to some large seas partly surrounded by their coasts. Thus, for
example, the Soviet Union considers some bay-type seas as its internal waters, as for
example the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the
White Sea from the line connecting the Cape Svyatoi Nos to the Cape Kanin Nos.6
The question of historic waters, including historic bays, was not resolved at the
Geneva Conference in 1958, and will in all likelihood not be solved at the Third United
Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. For although the list of items for the Con-

2 The term “enclosed sea” is used by some authors also for those seas which do not have an outlet to other
seas (the Aral, Caspian and Dead seas); see: Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, 3rd edition, Ed. F.I. Kozhevnikov,
Moscow, 1972, p. 133. C.I. Colombos refers to such seas as “inland seas”; C.I. Colombos, The International
Law of the Sea, 4th revised edition, p. 164. We agree, however, with those authors who from the viewpoint
of international law treat such seas as lakes; see: Mezhdunarodnoe pravo, Ed. G.I. Tunkin, Moscow, 1974,
p. 291; J. Andrassy, Medunarodno pravo, 6th edition, Zagreb, 1976, p. 149.
3 G. Gidel, Le droit international public de la mer, Le temps de paix, Vol. III – La mer territoriale et la zone
contingue, Chateuroux – Paris 1934, p. 762; Andrassy, op. cit. pp. 163, 177; R. Lapidoth, Les détroits en
droit international, Paris, 1972, p. 24.
4 Andrassy, op. cit., p. 177; Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, p. 117. However, some Soviet authors consider
the Sea of Azov to be internal waters of the Soviet Union as part of its “historic waters”; P.D. Barabolya
et al., Voenno-morskoi mezhdunarodno-pravovoi spravochnik, Moscow, 1966, p. 216.
5 Gidel, op. cit., p. 628; Lapidoth, op. cit., p. 66; Barabolya et al., op. cit., p. 215.
6 Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, p. 118; Barabolya et al., op. cit., p. 216.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 265

ference includes the regime of historic waters, the informal drafts prepared to date by
the Chairmen of the Main Committees of the Conference do not refer to this question.7
c) Closest to the conception of “enclosed and semi-enclosed seas” that is being
discussed at the present Conference on the Law of the Sea is the demand to recognize
a special status to some minor seas whose coasts belong to several States and are con-
nected to other seas by narrow outlets. Such demands have been most frequently voiced
by the Soviet Union and have been presented with the greatest precision by Soviet
authors. In Mezhdunarodnoe pravo, edited by Professor Tunkin, we find the following
definition:

“Enclosed seas are considered to be seas enclosed by territory belonging to several States and
connected to an open sea (world ocean) by a waterway which belongs to these States alone”.8

States bordering such a sea should by mutual agreement regulate the legal regime for
the enclosed sea involved. In so doing, they should respect freedom of navigation for
merchant ships of all States, but they might restrict or abolish freedom of navigation
for warships of States which do not border such sea, and freedom of overflight for their
aircraft.
The natural resources of such seas, outside the territorial waters, could be used on
equal and equitable terms by all States bordering them. None of them should be allowed
to endanger the economic and security interests of other coastal States. Soviet authors
cite the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea as examples of enclosed seas subject to special
regimes on the basis of agreements concluded by the bordering States. These agreements
primarily relate to the regulation of navigation through the straits connecting these seas
to the high seas. Among the seas having the features of an enclosed sea but with respect
to which no agreement have been concluded between the bordering States are the Sea
of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. Their régime is governed by the national laws and
general principles of international law; other coastal States have not yet accepted the
Soviet Union’s proposal that these seas be proclaimed closed to warships and aircraft.9

7 The last Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor Beyond the
Limits of National Jurisdiction (Vol. IV) contains a few proposals in connection with historic waters, because
this question had been entered into the list of issues for the Conference (General Assembly, Official Records;
Twenty-Eight Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/9021), p. 5. Provisions on this issue were later on only
mentioned in the “Working paper of the Second Committee: main trends”, prepared after the Second Session
of the Conference (Caracas 1974); See: Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (further:
UNCLOS); Official Records, Vol. III, p. 109.
8 Mezhdunarodnoe pravo, l.c.
9 Mezdhunarodnoe pravo, l.c.; Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, pp. 133-134; Barabolya et al., op. cit., pp.
129-133. For doubts in the existence of an enclosed-sea regime for the Baltic see: M. Bartoš, Medunarodno
javno pravo, Vol. II, Belgrade, 1956, pp. 165-166; Andrassy, op. cit., p. 177.
266 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

The Bering Sea was proclaimed an internal sea both at the time when its coasts
belonged to one State alone (Russia) and when its waters were bordered by two States.
However, the arbitral award of 1893 concerning seal fishing, rejected the United States
claim that the Bering Sea was an internal sea.10
d) Claims by the great sea powers to the effect that they should have exclusive
mastery over individual seas and even parts of the oceans, regardless of other coastal
States, belong to the past. Genoa’s claims to the Ligurian Sea, Venice’s claim to the
Adriatic Sea, Norway’s claim to the northern part of the North Sea, Scotland’s and later
on Great Britain’s claim to the neighbouring seas, the claims of Spain and Portugal to
parts of the ocean, were recognized by many authors and some other States, but have
not played any major role in the development of the contemporary law of the sea.11

2. THE THIRD UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON THE LAW OF THE SEA

At the Second Session of the Conference (Caracas, June 20-August 29, 1974), the first
one devoted to the law of the sea itself, numerous delegations taking part in the general
debate broached the problem of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. The problem was also
discussed in the Second Committee and a number of draft articles on that matter were
submitted.12
In the discussion of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, parallel with the debate on
the various issues concerning the regime of such seas, doubts were expressed from the
outset as to whether it was necessary at all to incorporate into the Convention on the
Law of the Sea any general rules for this category of sea. Although such doubts were
also voiced by delegates from a number of States at the latest sessions of the Conference,
it is indisputable that the idea of incorporating some special rules on enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas into the Convention is now generally accepted by the Conference. At the
Session in Caracas this question was still in the focus of attention. A major number of
States emphasized the importance of according special treatment to enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas; the Israeli representative enumerated even as many as 18 delegations which

10 Colombos, op. cit. pp. 55, 88, 136-138; Andrassy, op. cit., pp. 177-178.
11 N. Katičić, More i vlast obalne države, Zagreb, 1953, pp. 40-131.
12 For views presented in the general debate see: UNCLOS, Official Records, Vol. I, pp. 116, 130, 133, 136,
140, 148, 151, 168. For discussions in the Second Committee at the Session in Caracas see: UNCLOS, Official
Records, Vol. II, pp. 273-279. Draft rules were submitted by Algeria (A/CONF.62/C.2/L.20); Turkey (A/
CONF.62/C.2/L.55 and L.56); Iraq (A/CONF.62/C.2/L.71 and Add. 1 and 2); Iran (A/CONF.62/C.2/L.72).
Because of the informal character of work of the Second Committee and its working groups, no official
public minutes were kept of the meetings held at the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Sessions, nor are there
any official texts of the amendments submitted. As a member of the Yugoslav delegation, the author of
the present article took part in the work of the Conference at the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth sessions,
so that the data on these four Sessions are based on his own notes and documentations.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 267

had in the general debate declared themselves in favour of this idea. It is a fact, however,
that some representatives, even those of the States bordering such seas, pleaded that the
problems of such seas should not be solved by the general rules of the Convention on
the Law of the Sea for all such seas, but rather by regional agreements for each such
sea in particular (France, Greece, Iran, Sweden). Some of the States which were against
incorporating any special rules for enclosed and semi-enclosed seas into the Convention,
based their opposition on the lack of clarity of the definition of such seas (Greece,
France).
Algeria presented in greater detail the position of the States which urged that rules
on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas be incorporated into the Convention, but regardless
of it, these States were of the opinion that subsequent regional agreements should be
concluded by the coastal States to solve specific questions of each individual enclosed
or semi-enclosed sea.
Yugoslavia is among the States which consider that special rules on enclosed and
semi-enclosed seas should be incorporated into the Convention. At the Fourth Session
of the Conference the chairman of the Yugoslav delegation, Ambassador Z. Perišić, cited
the following characteristics of such seas as the essential reasons for incorporating special
rules for such seas into the Convention: (a) the complexity of navigation in these seas
and in outlets connecting them with the open seas due to their small surface and poor
connection with other seas; (b) the growing danger from all types of pollution; because
of their small size and poor interchange of their waters with adjacent seas; (c) the
necessity of taking special precautionary measures in relation to the management, con-
servation and exploitation of the living resources of such seas, as they are endangered
by their natural characteristics and by pollution.
At that Session the Finnish representative too, drew attention to the special geo-
graphical, geophysical and other characteristics of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas which
were not taken into account by existing law and which brought in question the
justifiability of the application of the general rules of the present drafts to such seas.
In this connection he stressed in particular the difficulties that might arise from the
application of the general rules to the exclusive economic zone in enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas, especially for the freedom of international navigation (the establishment
of artificial structures).
At the Caracas Session several draft articles on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas were
submitted. A condensation of these draft articles resulted in Provisions 221-228 being
incorporated into the Main Trends, a working paper drawn up after that Sessions with
a view to facilitating further work in the Second Committee.13
At the Geneva (Third) Session of the Conference (March 17-May 9, 1975), these
problems were discussed only at two meetings of the “informal consultative group” of

13 A/CONF.62/C.2/WP.1.
268 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

the Second Committee.14 By a decision of the Conference, the Chairman of the Second
Committee (R. Galindo-Pohl-El Salvador) was entrusted with the task of preparing an
informal draft for the material of his Committee on the basis of all proposals submitted
and their echo in the debates in the Committee. Chapter IX (Article 133-135) of Part
II of the “Informal Single Negotiating Text” (in further text: ISNT) is devoted to enclosed
and semi-enclosed seas.15 The provisions of this Chapter relate to the definition of such
seas, cooperation of States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas, and the relations
of special rules on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas with other provisions of the Conven-
tion.
At all subsequent Sessions of the Conference issues concerning enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas, and almost all other questions considered by this Committee, were dis-
cussed at informal meetings. At the Fourth Session (New York, March 15-May 7, 1976)
the Committee discussed the whole of Part II of ISNT, including Chapter IX devoted
to enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. On the basis of informal amendments introduced
by States and of the discussion in the Committee, the new president, Andrés Aguilar
(Venezuela) presented a “Revised Single Negotiating Text” (in further text: RSNT), a
draft of the same informal nature as was ISNT.16 The new drafts of Article 129 (Defini-
tion) and Article 130 (Cooperation of States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas)
dealt with enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. In other words, the provision on the relations
of special rules on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas with other provisions of the Conven-
tion (Article 135 ISNT-a) was omitted.
At the Fifth Session (New York, August 2-September 1976), the Second Committee
chose to discuss only a number of priority questions, but the problem of enclosed and
semi-enclosed seas was not among them. However, at the end of the Session the Commit-
tee held several meetings to discuss all remaining issues. Several delegations also spoke
of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas; some amendments to RSNT were introduced, and
a number of proposals submitted at the Fourth Session were repeated. At the end of this
Session a new draft was worked out.
At the Sixth Session (New York, May 23-July 15, 1977), apart from intensive
consultations conducted by the most interested States, the problem of enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas was again discussed only in the debate on those issues for discussion for
which no separate groups had been set up. Some fifty delegations took part in the debate
on this theme, and several new amendments to RSNT were introduced. However, in the
course of the debate not a single amendment either in its entirely or with respect to
individual elements entailing essential changes in Chapter IX of the RSNT, received strong
support. Therefore in the new draft (“Informal Composite Negotiating Text” – in further

14 See: A/CONF.62/C.2/L.89/Rev.1, para 8 and 17.


15 A/CONF.62/WP.8/Part II.
16 A/CONF.62/WP.8/Rev.1/Part II.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 269

text ICNT),17 which was at the Sixth Session jointly prepared by the Chairmen of the
Main Committees and the President of the Conference, the part on enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas did not undergo any changes in relation to the earlier draft (RSNT).

3. CONTENT OF THE “INFORMAL NEGOTIATING TEXTS”

The basic shortcomings of the draft worked out at the 1975 Geneva Session, which have
not yet been eliminated, are the lack of clarity of the definition and the non-existence
of provisions on some questions whose separate regulation was urged by many delegations
(navigation in those seas, navigation and overflight through outlets connecting such seas
to the open seas).
Although the title of Chapter IX and the definition itself have retained both terms,
i.e., “enclosed” and “semi-enclosed” seas, in Article 133 of ISNT they are defined in
a single definition:

“For the purposes of this part, the term “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” means a gulf, basin,
or sea surrounded by two or more States and connected to the open seas by a narrow outlet
or consisting entirely or primarily of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of two
or more coastal States.”

This definition, which is repeated in the subsequent drafts of the Chairman of the Second
Committee, is not clear, so that there are justified reasons for its varied interpretation
and for proposals for its amendment. From this definition it is nevertheless possible to
conclude with certainty: (a) that there is a reluctance to make a distinction between
enclosed and semi-enclosed seas; (b) that the first requirement for a sea to qualify for
the Status of an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea, for which this Convention should give
special rules, is to be surrounded by land territories of two or more States; (c) that, to
meet the second requirement for a sea to be considered enclosed or semi-enclosed, it
would be sufficient for it either to be connected to the open seas by a narrow outlet or
to have a relatively small surface, i.e. that it consists entirely or primarily of the territorial
seas and exclusive economic zones of coastal States.
In view of the use of two terms and of the alternative requirements mentioned under
(c), an interpretation according to which a sea connected to the open seas by a narrow
outlet would be treated as an enclosed sea, and the status of a semi-enclosed sea would
be given to any small surface sea regardless of the number of outlets to the open seas,
may also seem to be acceptable. However, such an interpretation must be rejected in

17 A/CONF.62/WP.10.
270 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

the light of the entire structure of Article 133 which shows that its author did not want
to define these two terms by two separate notions.
Article 134 of ISNT has fairly successfully summed up the various proposals on co-
operation of States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas, other interested States and
international organizations, in connection with the living resources of, the preservation
of the marine environment and conduct of scientific research in, these seas:

“States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas shall co-operate with each other in the exercise
of their rights and duties under the present Convention. To this end they shall, directly or through
an appropriate regional organization:
(a) Co-ordinate the management, conservation, exploration and exploitation of the living resources
of the sea;
(b) Co-ordinate the implementation of their rights and duties with respect to the preservation
of the marine environment;
(c) Co-ordinate their scientific research policies and undertake where appropriate joint pro-
grammes of scientific research in the area;
(d) Invite, as appropriate, other interested States or international organizations to cooperate with
them in furtherance of the provisions of this article.”

Although several amendments to this Article, too, were proposed at the subsequent
Sessions, only its introductory part was amended after the Fourth Session. At that Session
proposals (Mexico, Tunisia, Turkey) to lessen the commitments of bordering States in
connection with co-operation, received considerable support. Accepting the Committee’s
stand in the new draft, A. Aguilar changed the introductory part of this Article (Art. 130
RSNT):

“States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas should cooperate with each other in the exercise
of their rights and duties under the present Convention. To this end they shall endeavour, directly
or through an appropriate regional organization:”

Thus amended, the text of this Article pertaining to co-operation was incorporated into
the latest draft – ICNT, prepared by Chariman Aguilar after the Sixth Session.
The last Article of the Geneva draft (ISNT), which was devoted to enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas, dealt with relations of the special rules on such seas and other provisions
of the Convention. Article 135 read:

“The provisions of this part shall not affect the rights and duties of coastal or other States under
other provisions of the present Convention, and shall be applied in a manner consistent with
those provisions.”
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 271

In the debate on this Article conducted at the Fourth Session its text was variedly inter-
preted and amendments to it were proposed (Turkey, Finland), but its elimination was
not demanded. A. Aguliar opted, however, precisely for such a step: no rule reflecting
even in part the content of Article 135 of ISNT was incorporated into RSNT.

4. FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS

A. Definition

At the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea many seas were mentioned
as falling within the category of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. The Iranian representa-
tive Kazemi asserted that there were from 40 to 50 such seas.18 The following seas
were most frequently cited as belonging to this category: the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean
Sea (and its parts: the Adriatic, Aegean and Black Seas), the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean
Sea, the Red Sea, the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea.
On the other hand, various States tried to prove that some of these seas did not fall
within the category of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas. Thus, the Soviet Union rejected
any possibility of the Mediterranean being considered either an enclosed or semi-enclosed
sea, because, according to the Soviet representative, this was a large sea and was used
by States as a high sea. The Soviet Union does not in general accept any special régime
for semi-enclosed seas, considering them to be large bodies of water with several outlets
through which pass international waterways. It agrees, however, to the possibility of
formulating special rules for enclosed seas, which the Soviet representative, Admiral
Barabolya, defined from a juridical point of view as “comparatively small seas which
have no outlet to the ocean and do not serve as international shipping routes in the
broadest sense.19
Such dilemmas as to whether a particular sea should be considered enclosed or semi-
enclosed, indicate the importance of an adequate definition of such seas. However, until
now no major effort has been made at the Conference to work out a generally acceptable
definition.
One of the basic problems in connection with such a definition is the question of
whether it is necessary separately to define “enclosed” and “semi-enclosed” seas, or to
cover both notions by a single definition. At the beginning of the work of the Conference,
Iran proposed a draft definition for either of these terms:

18 UNCLOS, Official Records, Vol. II, p. 272.


19 UNCLOS, Official Records, Vol. II, p. 277.
272 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

“(a) The term “enclosed sea” shall refer to a small body of inland waters surrounded by two
or more States which is connected to the open seas by a narrow outlet;
(b) The term “semi-enclosed sea” shall refer to a sea basin located along the margins of the
main ocean basins and enclosed by the land territories of two or more States.”20

The Iranian draft definition is not quite satisfactory; it contains too many juridically and
geographically vague notions (inland waters, open seas, narrow outlet, sea basin, main
ocean basin). And yet, under this definition many seas could be clearly classified as
“enclosed” (e.g. the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea) or “semi-enclosed” (e.g. the North
Sea and the Caribbean Sea).
It is to be regretted that other delegations which use both terms did not make any
effort to explain them. Nor was this done by the Chairman of the Second Committee:
their definition (ISNT, RSNT, ICNT), jointly defines both notions by an awkward
combination of elements contained in the Iranian definition.
The definition contained in the “Informal Negotiating Texts” was not acceptable to
many States, so that at the last three Sessions minor or major amendments thereto were
proposed. We shall mention here only those entailing radical changes.
According to the Finnish amendment an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea should be
understood to mean a sea surrounded by two or more States and connected to the open
seas by one or more narrow outlets. The essential aspect of this amendment is contained
in the second paragraph of the definition according to which “spacious sea basins which
separate continents and which themselves include a number of semi-enclosed seas” should
not fall within this category of sea. Such a limitation was also contained in the Iranian
amendment submitted at the Fourth Session, according to which the Mediterranean Sea
would not come under this category. The Finnish amendment was mainly supported by
Eastern European States. The intention to exclude from the category of semi-enclosed
seas spacious sea basins was also contained in the amendments proposed by the Arab
Group at the Fifth Session and in the amendment introduced by Iraq at the Sixth Session
of the Conference.
The essential characteristic of the amendment submitted by the European Communities
is that according to it a “narrow outlet” would be considered narrow enough to qualify
a particular sea as enclosed or semi-enclosed only if its waters were “situated within
the territorial seas of one or more States”, i.e. if a strait in the sense of international law
were involved. The absurdity of this amendment is seen when it is applied to the Adriatic
Sea. Because the Strait of Otranto is 41 miles wide and its waters are not in their entirety
situated within the territorial seas of Albania and Italy, the Adriatic would be neither
an enclosed nor a semi-enclosed sea!

20 A/CONF.62/C.2/L.72.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 273

At earlier Sessions, Turkey and Yugoslavia made various observations on the defini-
tion contained in ISNT, but these two countries, together with Algeria, Libya and
Romania, submitted at the Sixth Session a new draft for Chapter IX as a whole within
the framework of which they also proposed some amendments to the definition contained
in RSNT. According to this proposal, only the term “semi-enclosed sea” would remain.
Since the Conference has so far failed to explain and delimit the notions of “enclosed”
and “semi-enclosed” seas, these States did not see any need to retain both terms. Changes
were also made in the definition with respect to both alternative requirements which must
be met by a sea to be considered as semi-enclosed. Thus not only a sea connected to
other seas by “a narrow outlet”, but all seas having “one or more straits or narrow outlets”
would be considered as being semi-enclosed. As regards the other requirement – not
a large sea – in order to emphasize that the real surface of the sea is important, the
following phrase was added at the end of the Article: “whether established or not”. This
addition relates to economic zones: qualifying a particular sea as semi-enclosed may not
depend on whether or not the coastal States have proclaimed their exclusive economic
zones.
Regardless of how much the differentiation between “enclosed” and “semi-enclosed”
seas is justified from the viewpoints of geography, navigation, etc., it seems to us that
in this final stage of the work of the Conference it would not be opportune to begin to
seek a separate definition for each of these two kinds of sea. Instead of it, the present
definition should be changed so as to make it clearer and suitable to cover with certainty
all seas which should be specially treated.
For this purpose it would be useful for the definition to say “one or more outlets”
instead of “a narrow outlet”, because not only a sea connected to another sea by one
narrow outlet is geographically an enclosed sea, but also all those seas which are con-
nected to other seas by a wider outlet, or even by several outlets. The properties and
problems of the Black Sea, Adriatic Sea and the Sea of Marmara, are very similar, despite
differences in the width and number of outlets connecting them to other seas.
The formulation according to which every sea which entirely or partly consists of
“territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of ... coastal States” should be considered
an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea, would make it possible to classify as such even such
large seas as the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Tasman, Bering, Barents, etc. seas. However,
because of their poor connections with other seas and oceans, such seas also call for
some special rules. On the other hand, small seas do not need any special régime if they
only constitute open bays of a bigger sea (e.g. the Chukchi Sea or the Beaufort Sea).
A great weakness of the definition contained in the drafts prepared to date by the Chair-
men of the Second Committee lies in the fact that according to it even a sea which is
in fact an ocean bay can be considered as being an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea only
because two or more States border its coasts, and its surface is not big enough not to
274 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

be treated exclusively or primarily as part of the territorial seas and exclusive economic
zones of coastal States (e.g. the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal or the Greenland Sea).
To conclude: in order for a sea to be considered enclosed or semi-enclosed, it should
be surrounded by the coasts of two or more States, should have a relatively small surface
(that it has not a large surface falling under the régime of the high seas), and should
be connected to other seas by one or more outlets. All these three requirements should
be simultaneously met.

B. Co-operation of Coastal States

In the opinion of numerous participants in the Conference, the specific features of


enclosed and semi-enclosed seas call for great and concerted efforts by the bordering
States and all third States using such seas to protect them from pollution, exhaustion
of their living resources and unsafe navigation. Because of this, the above-quoted text
of the Article on co-operation of bordering States in connection with living resources,
preservation of the marine environment and scientific research, has not been questioned
by anyone. The sphere of co-operation can, of course, be expanded; thus Yugoslavia
proposed the introduction of a new sphere of co-operation – in designating sea lanes
and prescribing traffic separation schemes.
The most significant changes proposed relate to co-operation with respect to living
resources. At the Fourth Session the United Arab Emirates proposed that the aim of this
co-operation should be to avoid effects detrimental to the fishing communities and to
avoid over-exploitation. Denmark proposed that States should undertake to negotiate
regional agreements concerning the living resources “so as to find an equitable solution
to problems resulting from the introduction of economic zones affecting traditional fishing
activities of the bordering States.”
Iraq, which proposed at the Fourth Session that co-operation of bordering States
relating to living resources should enable them to obtain an equitable share, amended
its proposal at the Sixth Session, formulating it with greater precision and making it
stiffer. According to this proposal, the bordering States would be bound to conclude
regional agreements so as to find equitable solutions to problems of fishing activities
of the bordering States, taking into account the special circumstances of the bordering
States and the nutritional needs of their populations.
The proposed radical change in the texts discussed theretofore received a rather limited
support in the Committee. A better support was received by the draft amendment to the
introductory part of Article 130 of RSNT contained in the joint draft submitted by Algeria,
Libya, Yugoslavia, Romania and Turkey and in the Finish draft, according to which the
conclusion of agreements among bordering States should be mentioned as one of the
possible ways of realizing co-operation among them.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 275

C. Navigation

At the Caracas Session a major number of States bordering enclosed and semi-enclosed
seas proposed that the chapter on such seas should regulate the question of access to
and from such seas which are connected to other seas by narrow outlets. The reasons
for this are obvious. The extension of the territorial sea and contiguous zone and the
introduction of the exclusive economic zone would greatly increase possibilities for
restricting the freedom of navigation on small-sized seas, with a virtual disappearance
from them of parts of the high seas. Such changes could in particular endanger navigation
through outlets providing the only link between enclosed and semi-enclosed seas and
other seas. This would in most cases result in the entire surface of such outlets being
situated within the territorial seas and contiguous zones (in addition to the exclusive eco-
nomic zones) of the bordering Sates. This would provide considerable possibilities for
lawful but also unlawful disturbance of free navigation by the coastal States. In this
connection it should be noted that not all such outlets are protected by the special rules
on passage through straits used for international navigation, because in some of them
(e.g., the Strait of Otranto, the Davis Strait navigation is also possible outside the terri-
torial seas of the coastal States (Article 36, ICNT).
Rules on navigation were proposed in the drafts submitted by Algeria and Iraq as
early as 1974.21 The Algerian draft provided for free transit for “merchant ships and
government ships operated for commercial purposes which are proceeding to or from
a coastal State bordering a semi-enclosed sea whose access to ocean space lies exclusively
through straits connecting two parts of the high seas and traditionally used for inter-
national navigation...” The Iraq draft speaks of the freedom of navigation for ships of
all States in straits connecting two parts of the high seas, whether they are open seas
or semi-enclosed seas. In other words, both proposals restrict the application of the rules
on navigation to straits which connect open seas to a semi-enclosed sea in which there
is also a corridor of the high seas. Iraq proposed that the freedom of navigation should
also be maintained in this corridor itself, but also in those areas of semi-enclosed seas
which had been previously considered as part of the high seas and which had, as a result
of the limit of the territorial sea being extended to 12 miles, become part of this belt.
Although as a result of all these proposals, within the framework of the provisions
on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas contained in the Caracas working paper “Main
Trends” most space was devoted to the rules of navigation,22 and they were also dis-
cussed at the Geneva Session in 1975, not a single provision thereon was entered into
ISNT. Because of this, new proposals concerning the regulation of navigation in enclosed
and semi-enclosed seas were made at the Fourth Session.

21 A/CONF.62/C.2/L.20 and L.21.


22 A/CONF.62/C.2/WP.1, Provision 227 (Formula A-C), Provision 228.
276 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

Finland and Iraq proposed special rules to protect the freedom of navigation inside
those enclosed and semi-enclosed seas which can be particularly endangered by the
construction of artificial islands and installations in the economic zones of the bordering
States. The amendments proposed by the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Yugoslavia
contained special rules to ensure the freedom of navigation (passage) through outlets
(straits) connecting enclosed and semi-enclosed seas with other seas.
These proposals were supported by many States, but some States which had through-
out the entire Conference been in favour of granting broad rights to coastal States in
areas under their jurisdiction (e.g. Guinea, Kampuchea, Albania, Somalia), expressed
fears for the sovereignty and security of the States bordering enclosed and semi-enclosed
seas in case of free navigation by foreign warships.
The Chairman of the Committee failed again to enter into the new draft – RSNT –
any rules pertaining to navigation. This is to some extent justified by the variety of
proposals and the brevity of the debate on this issue conducted at the Fourth Session,
because of which it was not possible to work out a compromise proposal.
At the Fifth Session, although the debate on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas was
short, all new amendments (Romania, Israel, Yugoslavia) were devoted to the freedom
of navigation through passages leading to enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.
In the new amendments to Chapter IX submitted at the Sixth Session, Finland and
Iraq reitereated their concern for free navigation in enclosed and semi-enclosed seas
themselves. The problem was, however, more comprehensively tackled in the joint
proposal submitted by five States: Algeria, Libya, Romania, Finland and Yugoslavia.
This proposal also emphasized that the existence of islands, artificial islands, structures
or installation in such seas should not exercise an influence on unimpeded navigation.
In addition the five States proposed safeguards to ensure free access to and from semi-
enclosed seas:

“1. In outlets used for international navigation connecting semi-enclosed seas with other seas,
freedom of navigation and overflight shall be maintained unimpeded for all ships and aircrafts.
2. Paragraph 1 is without prejudice to the provisions on straits used for international navigation
contained in Chapter II of this part”.

This proposal mustered considerable support from States taking part in the discussion.
There was some lack of understanding for the need for such an amendment, and there
were also proposals to the effect that a rule of this kind should be incorporated into the
draft in some other place. However, only a small number of delegations opposed its
substance. This rule was not incorporated into the latest draft (ICNT), but as a result
of the adjustment of views of the States most concerned, this issue should at the next
Session receive a still greater support in the Committee and is expected to be incorporated
into the next draft Convention.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 277

D. Delimitation of Marine Spaces

A number of States proposed that in connection with enclosed and semi-enclosed seas
special rules on the delimitation of marine spaces of coastal States should be adopted.
In the debate in the Second Committee in Caracas, the Iranian representative asserted
that the delimitation of various areas of jurisdiction in such seas should be based on the
principles of justice, equity and equidistance, while the representative of Thailand added
to it special circumstances, rejecting the equidistance method where it leads to unjust
results.23 In its draft Article on the regime of islands, Turkey proposed that maritime
spaces of islands in areas of semi-enclosed seas having special geographic characteristics
should be jointly determined by the States of that area.24
The Iraqi draft introduced at the Fourth and the Finnish draft submitted at the Sixth
Session also mentioned delimitation between adjacent or opposite States. According to
both these drafts, such delimitation should also be carried out in enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas in accordance with the general rules of the Convention. The Iraqi proposal
added to it the principles of equality and due regard to special circumstances. In contrast
to this, the joint proposal made by the five above-mentioned States also mentioned
relevant circumstances in addition to the Convention’s general rules on delimitation.
Proposals demanding a separate regulation of the question of delimitation in connec-
tion with enclosed and semi-enclosed seas did not receive any major support in the
discussions. This is understandable in view of the difficulties the Committee had had
in the debate on general rules on the delimitation of the continental shelf and the exclusive
economic zone.

E. Relation to Other Provisions of the Convention

In its proposal submitted in Caracas, Iran suggested a rule on the application of the
general provisions of the Convention to enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.25 According
to this proposal, the general rules should apply “in a manner consistent with the special
characteristics of these seas and the needs and interests of their coastal States”. The
proposal did not specify who should judge and decide on the special characteristics of
individual seas and on the interests and needs of their coastal States. There is no doubt
that such a provision would bring about legal insecurity with respect to the regime of
each individual enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.
However, the Geneva draft prepared by the Chairman of the Second Committee
contained a general clause of an opposite meaning in above-mentioned Article 135 of

23 UNCLOS, Official Records, Vol. III, pp. 273, 275.


24 A/CONF.62/C.2/L.55, Article 5.
25 A/CONF.62/C.2/L.72; this rule was also proposed by Finland at the Fourth Session.
278 14 – ENCLOSED AND SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS

ISNT. Although perhaps not best formulated, this Article would make it possible adequate-
ly to determine the scope of special provisions on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and
would thus eliminate the fears of third States for their positions in such seas.
At the Fourth Session Turkey proposed the omission of the last part of Article 135,
so that only the rule would be left according to which the provisions of Chapter IX should
not affect the rights and duties of States under other provisions of the Convention. In
addition, Finland suggested that a reserve be added to Article 135 to the effect that the
rule contained in this Article would not relate to arrangements agreed upon by States
bordering an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea.
As already stated, although no proposal was made to delete it from ISNT, Article
135 was not entered into RSNT. This can to some extent be justified by the assertion
that even without such a provision it is clear that special rules on enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas must be applied in conformity with the general rules of the Convention,
and that they must not affect the rights of third States. We consider, however, that such
a provision could be useful in interpreting Part IX of the Convention and agreements
subsequently concluded with respect to individual enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.
Furthermore, such a provision could mitigate the resistance put up by some States which
still oppose the incorporation of special rules on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas into
the Convention. The Algerian, Libyan, Romanian, Yugoslav and Turkish delegation were
also guided by such reasoning when they proposed at the Sixth Session that Article 135
be re-entered into ISNT. This appeal failed, however, to find an echo with the authors
of ICNT.

5. FINAL REMARKS

Owing to the limited scope of the present article, it has not been possible to present in
all details the work of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
Because of the informal nature of work of the Second Committee and its working groups,
many of these details will for ever remain unrecorded and even unknown to many States
which took part in the Conference.
At the end of this summary survey the question can be raised as to what links there
exist between the earlier demands that individual enclosed seas be accorded a special
status and the present efforts to work out some specific rules for all such seas. Even
though, judging by some arguments presented by States bordering enclosed seas, such
links seem to exist, there are substantial differences between both reasons and the solu-
tions proposed.
At an earlier stage, claims of individual coastal States were based on the need to
protect some of their own interests and rights (regarding security, fisheries, etc.). Today,
however, such claims are based on the changed conditions under which such seas are
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 279

used, conditions which threaten to render impossible any further use of such seas both
by bordering and all third States. The growing danger of pollution, exhaustion of living
resources, dangers to navigation and dangers from navigation by some ships, and even
of the current changes in the law of the sea, make it impossible to treat oceans and other
large and open seas and small enclosed seas in the same way.
In line with these essential differences between the reasons underlying present claims
and those made in the past, there are also differences between solutions that used to be
proposed and those now sought for the Convention on the Law of the Sea. In their earlier
claims bordering States demanded special rights for themselves, with the restriction of
the rights of or complete exclusion of third States. The proposals made at the Third
Conference on the Law of the Sea have a different aim, viz. to enable bordering States
and all third State to enjoy in such seas all rights generally guaranteed by the Convention.
But in order to achieve this aim, it is necessary, because of the specific character of
enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, to incorporate into the Convention some special rules
on such seas.
This aim compels us to ask ourselves whether the present provisions of the “Informal
Negotiating Texts” on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas can lead to its realization. There
is no doubt that they can, but it would be very useful that in the further work of the
Conference these provisions should be supplemented by some more rules whose incorpor-
ation into the Convention is advocated by States bordering such seas. However, even
such a supplement to Part IX of the Convention will leave much latitude for the sub-
sequent solution of many issues by mutual agreement by all States and international
organizations which make use of individual enclosed or semi-enclosed seas.
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Chapter 15

THE MEDITERRANEAN: AN ENCLOSED OR


SEMI-ENCLOSED SEA?*

1. The constant desire of the majority of coastal States to extend their jurisdiction over
new sea areas has found different means of expression. The States have always tried
– and have up to now succeeded – to extend the breadth of the maritime areas which
international law had already attributed to the coastal States (internal waters, territorial
sea). Moreover, they have asked for – and gradually obtained – new areas to be submitted
to their jurisdiction: the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the archipelagic waters,
the exclusive economic zone.
However, apart from these general aspirations some of the coastal States claimed
special sea areas because of their specific geographical situation. Thus, the archipelagic
States claimed sovereignty over the waters within the archipelagos and some coastal States
insisted on extending their sovereignty (or jurisdiction) over huge bays or marginal seas.
Legal arguments advanced in respect of such claims vary and often more arguments are
accumulated in respect of the same sea area. It is therefore sometimes difficult to discern
whether a claim is based on the concept of “historic bays”, on the proper application
of the method of straight baselines or on specific rights the coastal State should possess
over a marginal sea surrounded only by its coasts.1
Special status for some smaller, marginal (internal, enclosed, semi-enclosed) seas
has been demanded even in cases where more than one State surrounded them.2 The
basis for such claims was the wish of the coastal States (sometimes only one of them)
to restrict the rights of States other than those bordering that sea. Such demands have
been most effective in respect of the Black Sea, where even today, on the basis of the
1936 Montreux Convention concerning the Régime of the Straits, all the States are not
equal in respect of the access to that sea.

* First published in The Legal Regime of Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Seas: The Particular Case of
the Mediterranean, Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje prava i medunarodno pravo, Pravni fakultet
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Institut za medunarodno pravo i medunarodne odnose, (Budislav Vukas,
ed.), Volume XIX – No. 22, Zagreb, 1988.
1 See Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, 3rd ed., Ed. by F.I. Kozhevnikov, Moscow, 1972, p. 118; N. Ronzitti,
Sommergibili non identificati, pretese baie storiche e contromisure dello Stato costiero, in: Scritti in onore
di Dante Gaeta, Milano, 1984, pp. 345-397, at p. 373 et seq.
2 Kurs mezhunarodnogo prava, op. cit., pp. 133-134; Mezhunarodnoe pravo, G.I. Tunkin Ed., Moscow, 1974,
p. 291.
282 15 – THE MEDITERRANEAN: AN ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEA?

2. Be that as it may, claims for closing some seas to States not bordering them or
reducing the rights they are entitled to on the basis of general rules of the law of the
sea belong to the past.
At the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III)
restrictions of the rights of third States in enclosed or semi-enclosed seas were generally
not proposed.3 Instead of that, the Conference was trying to elaborate some specific rules
which would take into account the specific characteristics of such seas. Ambassador Z.
Perišić, chairman of the Yugoslav delegation stated the following characteristics of such
seas as essential reasons for inserting special rules into the Convention: a) the complexity
of navigation in these seas and in outlets connecting them with the open seas due to their
small surface and poor connection with other seas; b) the growing danger from all types
of pollution because of their small size and poor interchange of their waters with adjacent
seas; c) the necessity of taking special precautionary measures in relation to the manage-
ment, conservation and exploitation of the living resources of such seas as they are
endangered by their natural characteristics and by pollution.4
Although with some hesitation and scarce content, the Conference eventually decided
to adopt specific rules on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas (Part IX of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea – LOS Convention). These rules are adopted not only
in the interest of States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas but also for the benefit
of all States using them.
3. The first problem UNCLOS III was faced with in respect of the enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas was the definition of such seas. The greatest impact on the definition
eventually inserted in Article 122 of the LOS Convention was made by the proposal
of Iran, which contained two separate definitions for “enclosed” and “semi-enclosed”
seas.5 However, after a brief discussion in the Second Committee of the Conference,6
its Chairman (R. Galindo Pohl – El Salvador), decided to draft a single definition of
an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea”7 which eventually became Article 122 of the LOS
Convention. The consequence of that decision is a vague definition the constituent
elements of which are the following:

3 The draft articles on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas proposed by Iran were one of the rare exceptions;
doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/L.72 of 21 August 1974. On the negotiations concerning Part IX of the LOS Convention
see: B. Vukas, Enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, Iranean Review of International Relations, Nos. 11-12,
Spring 1978, The New Law of the Sea, pp. 171-196; B. Vukas, Zatvorena ili poluzatvorena mora, Novo
pravo mora, Prinosi za poredbeno proučavanje prava i medunarodno pravo, Pravni fakultet Sveučilišta
u Zagrebu, Institut za medunarodno pravo i medunarodne odnose, Vol. XV, No. 17, pp. 138-157.
4 This author’s notes from the informal meeting of the Second Committee held on 27 April 1976.
5 See supra note 3. Other suggestions for the definition: USSR, doc. C.2/Informal Meeting/13 of 27 April
1978; Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Romania and Turkey, doc. C.2/Informal Meeting/18 of 28 April 1978 and doc.
C.2/Informal Meeting/18/Rev. 1 of 1 September 1978.
6 UNCLOS III, Official Records, Volume II, pp. 273-278.
7 Art. 133 in Informal single negotiating text (ISNT) doc. A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/ Part II of 7 May 1975.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 283

a) If an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” satisfies other criteria of this definition, the


geographical denomination of the sea is irrelevant: the LOS Convention considers an
“enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” any “gulf, basin or sea” possessing the characteristics
required in Article 122.
b) In order to be considered an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” for the purposes of this
Convention, a gulf, basin or sea has to be “surrounded by two or more States”. Thus,
if all the coasts of a gulf, basin or sea belong to one coastal State it shall not be con-
sidered an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” even if it possesses other characteristics
required by Article 122. The exclusion of all the seas surrounded by the coasts of one
State only from the notion of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas is justified because the only
requirement according to Part IX as regards such seas – increased co-operation of the
coastal States – is in such case irrelevant.
c) Apart from being “surrounded by two or more States” an enclosed or semi-enclosed
sea has to satisfy at least one of the following conditions: it has to be “connected to
another sea or the ocean by a narrow outlet” or it has to consist “entirely or primarily
of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of two or more coastal States.”

Although in the majority of cases an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea will be connected


to another sea or the ocean by a strait, the term strait was deliberately not used to avoid
referring to Part III of the Convention dealing with “Straits used for international naviga-
tion”.
The reason for basing the definition on the connection of an enclosed or semi-enclosed
sea with other seas by a narrow outlet is obvious and justified: every such sea – even
when of considerable size – due to its poor connection with other seas is particularly
vulnerable and deserves special protection.
The necessity of protecting endangered seas is also present in the second alternative
condition: small seas are susceptible of being vulnerable to pollution and over-exploitation
of their natural resources. However, it is a question whether the drafters of the Convention
have not exaggerated when they proclaimed an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea even such
a sea as that “consisting ... primarily of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones
...”? According to this requirement rather large seas such as the Norwegian Sea, the
Greenland Sea or the Tasman Sea can be considered enclosed or semi-enclosed seas as
they primarily consist of the territorial seas and economic zones of the coastal States.
However, the formulation of this last condition seeks the answer to another question:
does the Convention require that the coastal States actually extend their territorial seas
and that they establish their exclusive economic zones to cover the extent required by
the Article 122, or is it sufficient that the surface of the sea is such that the potential
extension of the territorial seas and the potential establishment of the exclusive economic
zones could embrace almost all the surface of the sea? Notwithstanding the language
of Article 122, we would opt for the latter interpretation, as the general reason for having
284 15 – THE MEDITERRANEAN: AN ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEA?

some specific rules for enclosed or semi-enclosed seas is based on their natural, geographi-
cal characteristics. Thus, the definition of a particular sea as an enclosed or semi-enclosed
sea can not depend upon the actual breadth of the territorial seas or the decisions of the
coastal States concerning the establishment of their exclusive economic zones. Moreover,
it should be pointed out that when at UNCLOS III States agreed to establish the regime
of the exclusive economic zone no one expected that there would be coastal States who
would hesitate to establish their own zone.
4. In the light of the above interpretation of the definition of enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas, whether the Mediterranean satisfies the requirements of the definition needs
to be clarified.
However, prior to the definite adoption of the definition in Article 122 of the LOS
Convention, the possibility of defining the Mediterranean as an enclosed or semi-enclosed
sea was discussed on terms differing from those contained in Article 122. Thus, for ex-
ample L.M. Alexander considered semi-enclosed seas only “primary” seas and not parts
thereof. According to this concept the Mediterranean itself should be considered a semi-
enclosed sea but not so its constituent parts (the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, etc).8
Another reasoning, leading to an opposite conclusion concerning the Mediterranean,
was expressed by the delegation of the Soviet Union at UNCLOS III. According to the
soviet delegate Barabolya, seas crossed by international waterways can not be considered
enclosed or semi-enclosed seas. However, the representatives of some other States (Israel,
Thailand) included the Mediterranean among enclosed or semi-enclosed seas.9
Contrary to both of these restrictive concepts – excluding either the Mediterranean
itself or its constituent seas from the category of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas – it is
our view that both the Mediterranean as well as the smaller seas which form it (the
Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, etc.) are to be considered enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas in the sense of Part IX of the LOS Convention.10 The conclusion is proved
not only by comparing the elements of the definition in Article 122 with the geographical
realities in the Mediterranean, but also by the fact that all the Mediterranean States as
well as the coastal States in the Adriatic, the Black Sea, etc. have already begun extending
their co-operation along the lines indicated in Part IX (Art. 123).
As far as the Mediterranean itself is concerned the fact that it is surrounded by twenty
one States and that it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean only by the Strait of Gibraltar
suffices to define that sea as an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea in the terms of Article

8 L.M. Alexander, Regional Arrangements in the Oceans, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 71,
1977, pp. 84-109, at pp. 90-91.
9 UNCLOS III, Official Records, Volume II, p. 274, para. 12; p. 275, para. 26; p. 277, para, 49.
10 Although the Black Sea and its coastal States have been excluded from some forms of co-operation among
the rest of the Mediterranean States (e.g. from the Mediterranean Action Plan), it is an undeniable fact that
the Black Sea is only the most eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea; see Pomorska enciklopedija, 2nd
ed., Volume II, Zagreb, 1975, p. 55.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 285

122. Moreover, once the exclusive economic zones are established, it will consist almost
entirely of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of the coastal States.
All its constituent seas are surrounded by two or more States. The proportions of
these seas are such that they all satisfy the last condition mentioned in Article 122.
Moreover, some of them are connected to another sea by a narrow outlet (the Black Sea,
the Adriatic Sea).
5. Although many proposals for the contents of Part IX of the LOS Convention were
made at UNCLOS III, only one part of the States bordering such seas were interested
in adopting special rules on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas. Several States proposed rules
for the regulation of navigation in such seas (Algeria, Iraq, Finland, United Arab Emirates,
Romania, Israel, Libya, Yugoslavia).11 Moreover, Yugoslavia was particularly interested
in assuring the free ingress and egress into such seas.12 Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Romania
and Turkey proposed special rules on the delimitation of marine areas for enclosed or
semi-enclosed seas.13
None of these suggestions were supported enthusiastically either by the rest of the
States bordering the enclosed or semi-enclosed seas or by other participants at UNCLOS
III. Moreover, these proposals even endangered the inclusion of Part IX in the LOS
Convention.14 Namely, the vast majority of the States did not want to have specific
rules on such important questions as navigation or delimitation for enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas, the category of seas not being defined clearly enough. The Conference
adopted only a set of rules on the co-operation of States bordering an enclosed or semi-
enclosed sea in respect of the living resources of the sea, the marine environment and
the scientific research (Art. 123).
6. The co-operation of coastal States was envisaged as early as in the first set of draft
articles elaborated by the Second Committee of UNCLOS III in 1975 (Informal single
negotiating text – ISNT). However, the then Chairman of the Second Committee, R.
Galindo Pohl provided for a duty of coastal States to co-operate. The introductory part
to the provision corresponding to Article 123 of the LOS Convention read:

“States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas shall co-operate with each other in the exercise
of their rights and duties under the present Convention. To this end they shall, directly or through
an appropriate regional organization: (a) .....”.15

11 See proposals: A/CONF. 62/C.2/L.20 of 23 July 1974; A/CONF.62/C.2/L.71 of 21 August 1974; C.2/Informal
Meeting/18; C.2/Informal Meeting/18/Rev. 1.
12 Doc. C.2/Informal Meeting/3 of 26 April 1978.
13 Doc. C.2/Informal Meeting/18/Rev. 1.
14 Doc. C.2/Informal Meeting/61 of 21 March 1980.
15 Art. 134 of doc. A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/Part II.
286 15 – THE MEDITERRANEAN: AN ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEA?

At the Fourth Session of the Conference the proposals of Mexico and Tunisia to change
the obligation of the coastal States into a mere suggestion to co-operate received a
considerable amount of support.16 Therefore, the new Chairman of the Second Commit-
tee, A. Aguilar (Venezuela), introduced in the next draft (Revised single negotiating text
– RSNT) the provision on the co-operation of coastal States of an almost equal content
as the one eventually included at the beginning of Article 123 of the LOS Convention.17
7. Article 123 of the LOS Convention deserves to be analysed in respect of its legal
nature, the fields of co-operation it envisages and the partners which should be involved
in the co-operation.
Although the character of this provision was drastically changed in comparison with
the text proposed by Galindo Pohl in 1975, it cannot be claimed that the present text
of Article 123 amounts to a mere recommendation to States bordering an enclosed or
semi-enclosed sea. Even the first element of the introductory part of Article 123 leaves
some doubts in this respect; perhaps less in English (“States ... should co-operate ...”),
than in French (“Les Etats ... devraient coopérer ...”). The second element shows rather
clearly that this is something more than a simple recommendation to States. Namely,
States are instructed on the manner in which they shall achieve co-operation: “to this
end they shall endeavour” to co-ordinate their activities in the three fields mentioned
in Article 123. Although it is difficult to indicate which specific actions are required
from States in order to satisfy the terms of this provision, it is obvious that a refusal
to undertake negotiations or a rejection of all bona fide proposals of other coastal States
in respect of the living resources, the marine environment or the scientific research would
be contrary to Article 123. Therefore, it has to be concluded that Article 123 contains
an obligation sui generis (a bona fide obligation according to T. Scovazzi); there is indeed
a legal, and not only a moral obligation to co-ordinate activities in the three mentioned
fields.18
Article 123 indicates only three subjects of co-operation i.e. of co-ordination of the
activities of coastal States: a) the management, conservation, exploration and exploitation
of the living resources of the sea; b) the implementation of their rights and duties with
respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment, and c) their scientific
research policies; they shall endeavour to undertake, where appropriate, joint programmes
of scientific research in the area.
The three fields in which the necessity of co-operation has been accentuated are those
in which the co-operation of all the users of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas is particularly
important for the protection and preservation of the seas.

16 This author’s notes, taken at the informal meeting of the Second Committee on 27 April 1976.
17 Art. 130 of doc. A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/Rev. 1/Part II of 6 May 1976.
18 T. Scovazzi, Implications of the new law of the sea for the Mediterranean, Marine Policy, Vol. 5, pp. 302-
312.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 287

Although the co-operation of coastal States has been pointed out in the first place
(title of Article 123; its introductory part; paras. /a/-/c/, the Convention requires that the
States bordering an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea “invite, as appropriate, other interested
States or international organizations to co-operate with them in furtherance of the provi-
sions of this article” (Art. 123/d/). The term “other interested States” should be understood
as meaning, in the first place, all other States users of an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea;
as “interested international organizations” competent universal as well as regional organi-
zations should be considered.
8. The LOS Convention not yet being in force one is tempted to analyse each of
its parts in respect to their relations to customary international law.19 However, due
to the scarcity of the contents of Part IX and the dubious obligations of States under
Article 123, this question does not seem to be a very intriguing one as far as the enclosed
or semi-enclosed seas are concerned. In this respect, nevertheless, some facts should be
pointed out.
First, the attitude of the Mediterranean States in respect of the LOS Convention in
general. The majority of States voted for its adoption; Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and the USSR
(as well as the Ukrainian SSR) abstained; Israel and Turkey voted against the adoption
of the Convention and Albania did not take part in the votes.20 It should be stressed
that Part IX was not decisive for the attitude of States in respect of the adoption of the
Convention. It can only be assumed that Turkey may have had different position had
Part IX contained specific rules on the extension and delimitation of marine areas in
enclosed or semi-enclosed seas. By 9 December 1984 all the Mediterranean States except
Albania, Israel, Syria and Turkey signed the Convention. However, as of 31 October
1987 only Egypt, Tunisia and Yugoslavia have ratified the LOS Convention.21
Second, the co-operation envisaged in Article 123, as mentioned already supra in
para 4, could be noticed long before UNCLOS III. Thus, as early as in 1949 the General
Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean was established within the framework of the
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Specific provisions for the protection of the
Mediterranean from pollution have been agreed upon in general conventions (since the
1954 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil), in
regional treaties (the 1976 Barcelona Convention and related protocols) and in subregional
agreements (e.g. the 1974 Italo-Yugoslav Agreement on Co-operation for the Protection
of the Waters of the Adriatic Sea and Coastal Zones from Pollution).22 Therefore, Part

19 See B. Vukas, The Impact of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea on Customary
Law, in: The New Law of the Sea, Ed. by Ch. L. Rozakis and C.A. Stephanou, Amsterdam – New York
– Oxford, 1983, pp. 33-54.
20 UNCLOS III, Official Records, Volume XVI, pp. 154-155, para. 28.
21 Law of the Sea Bulletin, No. 10, November 1987, pp. 1-5.
22 See B. Bohte and B. Vukas, International Law and the Pollution of the Sea, in: Hague – Zagreb Essays
3, C.C.A. Voskuil and J.A. Wade Editors, T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague, 1980, pp. 143-163.
288 15 – THE MEDITERRANEAN: AN ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEA?

IX of the LOS Convention may well contribute to the consolidation of the existing
practices of the Mediterranean States.
9. The provisions on the co-operation of States envisaged in Article 123 of the LOS
Convention and the ever increasing co-operation of States bordering enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas impose the necessity of determining the real scope of the provisions of
Part IX within the general framework of the Convention. The final solution in this respect
differs substantially from the proposition made by Iran at the beginning of UNCLOS
III. In Article 2 of its draft articles on enclosed and semi-enclosed seas Iran proposed
the following provision:

“The general rules set out in this Convention shall apply to an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea
in a manner consistent with the special characteristics of these seas and the needs and interests
of their coastal States.”23

The ICNT contained an opposite provision in which the regime of enclosed or semi-
enclosed seas was subjected to the general rules of the Convention:

“The provisions of this part shall not affect the rights and duties of coastal or other States under
other provisions of the present Convention, and shall be applied in a manner consistent “

Although at the Fourth Session of the Convention there was no substantial opposition
to this provision, it was ommitted from the next draft – the RSNT.24 Such an omission
can be justified to a certain degree by the claim that even without this provision it is
clear that the modest special provisions on enclosed or semi-enclosed seas must be applied
subject to the general rules contained in other parts of the Convention and that these
provisions cannot affect the rights of States not bordering these seas. However, it is
regrettable that a clear provision to that effect was not included in Part IX.
10. In the opinion of the States Parties to the LOS Convention it represents the
“codification and progressive development of the law of the sea ...” (seventh preambular
paragraph). However, the progressive development of international law does not always
lead to precise and detailed legal rules. Many of the provisions of the LOS Convention
(e.g. in the Part on the protection and preservation of the marine environment and in
the Part on marine scientific research) can be defined as “promotional”. Their role is
to promote both immediate international co-operation and further development of inter-
national law. The value of Part IX of the Convention should be assessed in this sense.
Article 123 should stimulate the co-operation of States and international organizations
in respect to the use and protection of enclosed or semi-enclosed seas as well as to the

23 DOC. A/CONF. 62/C. 2/L. 72.


24 Doc. A/CONF. 62/WP. 8/Rev. 1/Part II.
IX – ENCLOSED OR SEMI-ENCLOSED SEAS 289

adoption of regional and subregional rules concerning particular seas. In fact, besides
being based on existing rules, every international co-operation contributes also to the
development of further international rules, standards, procedures and practices. The
establishment and the implementation of the Mediterranean Action Plan and the system
of treaties based on the Barcelona Convention are the best example of the creative link
between the co-operation of States and the elaboration of international law. We can only
hope that similar results will be achieved in other fields, i.e. in respect to the initiative
to transform the Mediterranean into a zone of peace, security and co-operation.
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X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
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Chapter 16

LE CHOIX DES PROCÉDÉS PRÉVUS PAR L’ARTICLE 287 DE LA


CONVENTION DE 1982 SUR LE DROIT DE LA MER*

1. Les procédés prévus à l’article 287, tels qu’ils sont mentionnés dans le titre de mon
intervention, appartiennent à la Partie XV, Section 2 de la Convention des Nations Unies
sur le droit de la mer. D’après le titre de cette section, il s’agit de “procédures obligatoires
aboutissant à des décisions obligatoires.”
Mais, mon devoir est précisé par les suggestions que les concepteurs de ce Colloque
m’ont communiquées. Ils m’ont dit que je devrai traiter aussi des “procédures n’abouti-
ssant pas à des décisions obligatoires”. Cette suggestion m’oriente vers la Section 1 de
la même Partie de la Convention où, sous le titre “dispositions générales” se cachent
les règles concernant “lex procédures n’aboutissant pas à des décisions obligatoires”.
En principe toutes ces procédures, celles aboutissant à des décisions obligatoires,
comme aussi celles aboutissant à des décisions facultatives, sont applicables à tout
différend relatif à l’interprétation ou à l’application de la Convention sur le droit de la
mer, y inclus les différends concernant la délimitation de zones maritimes. L’applicabilité
de la Partie XV aux différends concernant la délimitation de la zone économique exclusive
et le plateau continental est confirmée par le paragraphe 2 des articles 74 et 83.
2. Mais, avant de chercher les procédures n’aboutissant pas à des décisions obligatoires
il faut souligner que la Convention elle-même donne un rôle subsidiaire au système de
règlement des différends qu’elle établit. Il y a plusieurs dispositions dans la Partie XV,
Section 1, qui confirment la priorité de tous les autres moyens pacifiques choisis par
les parties à un différend. D’après l’article 280, les États peuvent “convenir à tout moment
de régler par tout moyen pacifique de leur choix un différend surgissant entre eux...”.
Dans ce cas, les procédures prévues dans la Convention ne s’appliquent que si l’on n’est
pas parvenu à un règlement par le moyen choisi par les parties.
Il faut ajouter que le paragraphe premier de l’article 281 finit par une phrase surpre-
nante: elle permet aux parties à un différend de se mettre d’accord pour exclure la
possibilité d’engager une autre procédure si on n’est pas parvenu à un règlement par
le moyen choisi dans leur accord spécial!

* Ce rapport a été présenté au Colloque international “Le processus de délimitation maritime – étude
d’un cas fictif, Monaco 27-29 mars 2003”.
294 16 – CHOIX DES PROCÉDURES JURIDICTIONELLES

D’un autre côté, l’article 282 donne la priorité aux procédures aboutissant à une
décision obligatoire convenue pour les différends relatifs à l’interprétation ou à l’applica-
tion de la Convention dans le cadre d’un accord général, régional ou bilatéral, ou accepté
de tout autre manière.
3. Mais, revenons à notre tâche: les procédures n’aboutissant pas à des décisions
obligatoires, c’est-à-dire aux procédures initiales du système établi par la Convention
elle-même.
D’après l’article 283, paragraphe 1, lorsqu’un différend surgit entre des États Parties
à la Convention, les parties en litige doivent procéder promptement “à un échange de
vues concernant le règlement du différend par la négociation ou par d’autres moyens
pacifiques”.
On pourrait imaginer que “l’échange de vues” représente déjà un moyen permettant
aux parties en litige de chercher une solution. Mais, le texte de l’article 283 ne nous
permet pas une telle conclusion. C’est-à-dire que d’après cet article l’échange de vues
sert à trois buts différents:
– Primo: l’échange de vues permet aux parties en litige de choisir un moyen pacifique
de règlement du différend; l’article suggère que ça peut être la négociation ou n’im-
porte quel autre moyen pacifique;
– Secundo: les parties doivent procéder promptement à un échange de vues chaque
fois qu’il a été mis fin à une procédure de règlement d’un différend sans que celui-ci
ait été réglé;
– Tertio: les parties s’engagent dans un échange de vues chaque fois qu’un règlement
est intervenu et que les circonstances exigent des consultations concernant la manière
de le mettre en œuvre.
Bien qu’il soit difficile d’imaginer une différence substantielle entre l’échange de vues
et la négociation, il est clair que la Convention sur le droit de la mer traite l’échange
de vues comme une procédure obligatoire dans différentes phases du processus de
règlement d’un différend, tandis que la négociation n’est qu’un moyen facultatif mentionné
seulement comme un exemple des moyens pacifiques qui peuvent être choisis par les
parties en litige. Naturellement, une fois choisie, la négociation revêt les caractéristiques
traditionnelles de ce moyen de règlement des différends: les parties ont le devoir de
négocier de bonne foi, mais pas une obligation de parvenir à une solution.
Le deuxième moyen n’aboutissant pas à des solutions obligatoires mentionné à la
Section 1, c’est la conciliation. Mais, je ne vais pas traiter ce moyen, il sera présenté
par mon collègue, Monsieur le juge Marsit.
4. Et maintenant, je passe aux procédures aboutissant à des décisions obligatoires,
prévues par l’article 287. A cause des différentes altitudes des États envers ce type de
procédé en général, et la préférence de chaque État pour certaines procédures déterminées,
l’article 287 offre quatre moyens:
X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES 295

– une cour nouvelle, spécialisée en droit de la mer, c’est-à-dire le Tribunal international


du droit de la mer;
– la Cour internationale de Justice, l’organe judiciaire principal des Nations Unies;
– l’arbitrage et, finalement,
– la possibilité de créer des tribunaux d’arbitrage spécialisés dans différents domaines
du droit de la mer. Mais, comme la délimitation de zones maritimes ne figure pas
sur la liste des matières mentionnées à l’annexe VIII, nous pouvons presque ignorer
l’arbitrage spécial. Egalement, je ne mentionnerai pas d’autres aspects de la Section
2, qui ne concernent pas le sujet de notre colloque, ni les règles ayant une significa-
tion tout à fait générale.
Tous ces cours et tribunaux (sauf les tribunaux d’arbitrage spécialisés) ont compétence
pour connaître de tous différends relatifs à l’interprétation ou à l’application de la Conven-
tion, mais aussi compétence pour connaître de tout différend qui est relatif à l’interpréta-
tion ou à l’application d’un accord international se rapportant aux buts de la Convention
et qui lui est soumis conformément à cet accord (art. 288). Ils appliquent les dispositions
de la Convention et les autres règles du droit international qui ne sont pas incompatibles
avec celle-ci. Mais, si les parties à un différend sont d’accord, les cours et tribunaux
peuvent statuer ex aequo et bono (art. 293).
5. Comme je l’ai déjà signalé, la liste de quatre procédures est prévue pour permettre
aux États de choisir un ou plusieurs de ces moyens. Le choix n’est pas obligatoire; chaque
État a le droit, mais pas l’obligation, de choisir un ou plusieurs de ces moyens “lorsqu’il
signe ou ratifte la Convention ou y adhère, ou à n’importe quel moment par la suite”
(par. 1). Le choix se fait par voie de déclaration écrite. Naturellement, cette déclaration
peut être modifiée ou résiliée.
Mais, tous les moyens prévus à l’article 287 n’ont pas un traitement égal: la procédure
d’arbitrage est le grand vainqueur des négociations de Genève, Montreux et New York.
Le système est le suivant: si les parties en litige ont accepté la même procédure, ce
litige ne peut être soumis qu’à cette procédure, à moins que les parties n’en conviennent
autrement. La détermination en faveur de l’arbitrage se manifeste dans deux cas:
– Primo: un État Partie à la Convention qui est partie à un différend non couvert par
une déclaration en vigueur est réputé avoir accepté la procédure d’arbitrage;
– Secundo: si les parties en litige n’ont pas accepté la même procédure, le litige en
question ne peut être soumis qu’à la procédure d’arbitrage, à moins que les parties
n’en conviennent autrement.
Mais il faut rappeler que cette priorité de l’arbitrage n’existe pas poules parties ayant
accepté la juridiction de la Cour internationale de Justice à la base de l’article 36 de son
Statut. Cette conclusion est fondée sur l’article 282 de la Convention, mentionné aupara-
vant.
296 16 – CHOIX DES PROCÉDURES JURIDICTIONELLES

– Pour 19 États, le Tribunal du droit de la mer est le premier choix ou au moins une
juridiction égale à une autre, ou à plusieurs autres;
– 14 États choisissent le même rôle pour la Cour internationale de Justice;
– 5 États l’arbitrage;
– et 5 États l’arbitrage spécial.
Il y a 11 États qui, en choisissant plusieurs juridictions, ont donné priorité à certaines
d’entre elles.
6. Le principe selon lequel tout différend qui n’a pas été réglé par l’application
d’autres moyens, à la demande d’une partie au différend peut être soumis à une cour
ou à un tribunal prévus à l’article 287, a été accepté sous réserve de l’adoption de deux
listes d’exceptions. La première liste contient des limitations applicables automatiquement
à tous les États Parties à la Convention, mais elle n’a pas d’intérêt pour le sujet (art.
297).
La deuxième permet aux États de déclarer qu’ils n’acceptent pas une ou plusieurs
des procédures devant les cours et tribunaux en ce qui concerne une ou plusieurs des
catégories de différends énumérés à l’article 298. Il s’agit de différends concernant:
– la délimitation de zones maritimes ou les différends qui portent sur des baies ou titres
historiques;
– les différends relatifs à des activités militaires;
– les différends pour lesquels le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies exerce ses
fonctions d’après la Charte, à moins que le Conseil n’incite les parties à régler leur
différend par les moyens prévus dans la Convention.
Seulement pour les différends concernant la délimitation de zones maritimes, la Conven-
tion prévoit des procédures remplaçant la juridiction de cours et tribunaux. Tout d’abord,
elle oblige les parties à un tel différend de procéder à des négociations, et si elles ne
parviennent pas à un accord dans un délai raisonnable, chaque partie a le droit de sou-
mettre le différend à la conciliation.
Pour le moment il y a 20 États Parties à la Convention qui ont fait des déclarations
concernant les exceptions facultatives:
– 13 d’entre eux ont exclu l’application des procédures de règlement des différends
obligatoires et juridiquement contraignantes en ce qui concerne les différends relatifs
à la délimitation de zones maritimes;
– 11 États ont exclu les différends relatifs à des activités militaires, 7 les différends
traités par le Conseil de Sécurité.
Chapter 17

MAIN FEATURES OF COURTS AND TRIBUNALS DEALING WITH


LAW OF THE SEA CASES*

The purpose of this brief paper is to point out some of the main characteristics and
problems arising out of the use of compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions
in the settlement of disputes system established under the Law of the Sea Convention.
The system is based on four different fora for the peaceful settlement of disputes
listed in article 287: two types of arbitral tribunals, the International Court of Justice,
and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The principles that every dispute
concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention can eventually be submitted
at the request of any party to the dispute to a compulsory procedure entailing binding
decisions has often been pointed out as one of the main contributions of the Third United
Nations Conference to the development of the law of the sea.1 In the Convention, this
principle has been implemented by many specific rules. It has, however, also been
considerably restricted in its application.
The first characteristic of the system is the right of States Parties to the Convention
to choose one or more of the courts and tribunals listed in article 287. To date, twenty-
four States have made a declaration concerning their choice. Fifteen States have indicated
the Tribunal as the only, their preferred, or one of the preferred means for the settlement
of disputes. An equal number of States have expressed such preference for the ICJ. Two
States have expressly rejected the ICJ as a means for the resolution of disputes under
the Convention.2
The small number of States having made a declaration expressing their choice renders
even more important the rule according to which a State Party to the Convention, which
is a party to a dispute not covered by a declaration in force, shall be deemed to have
accepted arbitration.3 In addition to this rule, there is the provision that arbitration shall

* First published in Current Marine Environmental Issues and the International Tribunal for the Law
of the Sea, Center for Oceans Law and Policy, (Myron H. Nordquist, John Norton Moore, eds.),
Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hauge/London/New York, 2001.
1 See article 286 of the Convention in: The Law of the Sea, Official Text of the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea with Annexes and Index (New York: United Nations, 1983).
2 Oceans and Law of the Sea, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Settlement of Disputes
Mechanism, <http://www.un.org/Depts./los/los_sdml.htm>.
3 Article 287, para. 3.
298 17 – LAW OF THE SEA CASES AND INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT

be applied to disputes where the parties have not accepted the same procedure.4 The
importance of this provision does not depend upon the number of declarations but rather
on the variety of means chosen. Thus, in a dispute involving two States that have opted
for permanent courts – one for the ICJ and the other for ITLOS – the regulations concern-
ing arbitration in accordance with Annex VII will apply! This solution does not seem
very logical.
Be that as it may, we must recall that under article 282 of the Convention, any
disputes settlement mechanism that is binding on the disputing parties is favored over
the courts and tribunals listed in article 287. According to article 282, if the States Parties
to the Convention that are parties to a dispute concerning the interpretation or application
of the Convention have agreed that such dispute shall, at the request of any party to the
dispute, be submitted to a procedure that entails a binding decision, that procedure shall
apply in lieu of the procedures provided in article 287. It is interesting to note that Judge
Treves includes in those procedures, agreed outside the Convention’s system, even the
ICJ itself, in case all parties to a dispute have accepted the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction
under article 36, paragraph 2, of the Court’s Statute.5 Although the conclusion seems
plausible, it should be stressed that article 282 would seem to give priority to procedures
that fall outside of Part XV of the Convention, while in respect of the disputes concerning
the interpretation or application of the Law of the Sea Convention, the ICJ is one of the
procedures on which the system of article 287 is based.
If the variety of the fora for the settlement of disputes offered to States should have
the effect of increasing the number of cases brought before the courts and tribunals, the
restrictions of their jurisdiction ratione materiae have the opposite effect. The Convention
contains a poorly drafted article on limitations on applicability of compulsory procedures
entailing binding decisions6 and an impressive list of optional exceptions to applicability
of such procedures.7 Fortunately, only twelve States have to date made declarations
concerning non-acceptance of the procedures entailing binding decisions with respect
to one or more of the categories of disputes listed in article 298.8
It is also interesting to note that eight States have made reservations excluding various
disputes concerning law of the sea issues from their acceptance of the jurisdiction of
the International Court of Justice further to article 36, paragraph 2, of its Statute.9

4 Article 287, para. 5.


5 T. Treves, “Conflicts between the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court
of Justice,” 31 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (1999): 812.
6 Article 297.
7 Article 298.
8 Declarations made upon ratification of, accession to, or succession with respect to the Convention: <http://
www.un.org/Depts/los/los_decl.htm>.
9 Declarations recognizing as compulsory the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice: <http://www.icj-
cij.org/icjww/ibasicdocuments/ibasictext/ibasicdeclarations.htm>.
X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES 299

Notwithstanding the general equality of the courts and tribunals listed in article 287,
the differences of their jurisdiction ratione personae and ratione materiae inevitably affect
their present and future activities. A great advantage of the ICJ and arbitration outside
the Convention’s framework is the fact that their jurisdiction is not limited to the law
of the sea. Therefore, for example, they can deal with a dispute concerning land and
maritime delimitation, while under article 287, jurisdiction could only be established in
respect of maritime delimitation. The arbitral tribunals established in accordance with
Annex VIII would have the most limited jurisdiction of all the means set out in article
287.
On the other hand, only the ITLOS Seabed Disputes Chamber has jurisdiction in
respect of disputes and requests for advisory opinions concerning activities in the Area.10
As those activities at present are almost nonexistent, this jurisdiction is not likely to
generate cases or requests for advisory opinions in the near future.
However, the provisions on the jurisdiction of the Seabed Disputes Chamber disclose
more clearly than any other part of the Convention the broad jurisdiction of ITLOS
ratione personae. The Chamber is open to States Parties, the International Seabed
Authority, its Enterprise, state enterprises, and natural or juridical persons.11 Furthermore,
the Tribunal itself has to open to all those entitled to become parties to the Convention:
States, self-governing associated States, non-fully independent territories, and international
organizations.12
In addition to the exclusive jurisdiction of ITLOS in respect of the activities in the
Area, the Tribunal has some priority in respect of two specific issues: the prompt release
of vessels and crews, and the prescription of provisional measures.13 This priority estab-
lished under the provisions of the Convention has resulted in several cases dealt with
by the Tribunal in the first four years of its work.14
Finally, an important advantage of the ICJ in comparison with all other courts and
tribunals should be mentioned. Article 94, paragraph 2, of the United Nations Charter
reads:

“If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment
rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may,
if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect
to the judgment.”

10 See articles 187 and 191.


11 See article 187.
12 See article 305.
13 See articles 292 and 290.
14 M/V Saiga (Prompt Release) (1997); M/V Saiga (Provisional Measures) (1998); Southern Bluefin Tuna Cases
(1999); Camouco (2000); and Monte Confurco (2000).
300 17 – LAW OF THE SEA CASES AND INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT

State Parties to the Law of the Sea Convention should find a solution that would con-
tribute to the enforcement of the judgments rendered by the tribunals established under
the Convention. A solution permitting a party to address the Meeting of States Parties
and/or the General Assembly of the United Nations, if the other party fails to perform
the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by ITLOS or an arbitral
tribunal should be found.
A conclusion at the end of these brief remarks would be out of place. Let me only
add a final note.
The development of the law of the sea in the last thirty-five years is but another proof
of the chaotic development of international law and international institutions. The revision
of this part of international law was commenced because of the impression created by
the developed countries that the exploitation of mineral resources of the ocean floor was
imminent. Due to this conviction, half of the text of the Law of the Sea Convention deals
with this presently nonexisting activity.
The adoption of the disputes settlement system was also partly due to the perceived
necessity of resolving disputes concerning the exploration and exploitation of the Area.
The structure and the system of dispute settlement under the Convention as well as the
attribution of competences to the ICJ and the tribunals were also tailored to the new vision
of what was viewed as the “most important” activities at sea.
The reality of today is quite different from what was expected in the euphoria of
the 1960s and 1970s. The courts and tribunals, not only those mentioned in article 287,
are left with the traditional disputes concerning law of the sea and maritime issues.
Nevertheless, there will be more and more problems and disputes concerning the conserva-
tion and exploitation of the living resources of the sea and the protection of the environ-
ment. Yet, it seems to me that the existing dispute settlement system is able to cope with
all the developments in the foreseeable future.
Chapter 18

THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE LAW OF THE SEA:


SOME FEATURES OF THE NEW INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL
INSTITUTION*

1. INTRODUCTION

Several decades after World War II – differently from the general development of inter-
national law – international adjudication was a neglected field of international relations.
Arbitration was rarely used and the International Court of Justice was condemned to long
periods of inactivity. The weakening of the Cold War and its final collapse contributed
to the more frequent resort to already existing mechanisms for the peaceful settlement
of disputes and to the creation of new ones. The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal was
followed by Tribunals for War Crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda,
and eventually by the Statute of the permanent International Criminal Court. On the
regional level, in addition to the long-existing European Court of Justice and the European
Court of Human Rights, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe first
created a mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes and eventually established
the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The characteristics of the present developments
in this field are the specialisation of the newly created bodies and the diversity of entities
which have access to them (individuals, juridical persons, non-self-governing territories,
international organisations).
A major break-through was achieved at the Third United Nations Conference on the
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III, 1973-1982). Contrary to the codification at UNCLOS I
(Geneva, 1958), UNCLOS III adopted a system of settlement of disputes concerning
the interpretation or application of the Convention1 as an integral part of the United

* First published in The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea – Law and Practice, (P.
Chandrasekhara Rao, Rahmatullah Khan, eds.), Kluwer Law International, The Hague/London/Boston,
2001.
1 In addition to Part XV entitled “Settlement of Disputes”, the majority of the rules on the subject are contained
in Section 5 – “Settlement of Disputes and Advisory Opinions” of Part XI; in the provisions dealing with
“The Area” and in four Annexes to the Convention Annex V – “Conciliation”; Annex VI – “Statute of
the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea”; Annex VII – “Arbitration”; Annex VIII – “Special
Arbitration”. Some basic writings on the settlement of disputes system in the LOS Convention: A.O. Adede,
The System for Settlement of Disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1987);
R. Ranjeva, “Settlement of Disputes”, in: R.-J. Dupuy, D. Vignes (eds.), A Handbook on the New Law of
the Sea, Part II (1991), pp. 1333-1401; L.B. Sohn, “Settlement of Law of the Sea Disputes”, 10 The
International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (1995), pp. 205-217.
302 18 – SOME FEATURES OF ITLOS

Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention).2 States Parties are obliged
to settle such disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the relevant provisions
of the UN Charter (art. 279 of the LOS Convention), and they are free to choose at any
time any peaceful means for the settlement of their dispute (art. 280). However, the
Convention itself provides for an elaborate obligatory system of dispute settlement which
includes not only the so-called diplomatic means of peaceful settlement (exchange of
views between the parties to a dispute, conciliation), but also judicial procedures (“pro-
cedures entailing binding decisions” according to the title of Part XV, Section 2, of the
LOS Convention). Where no settlement has been reached through the exchange of views
of the parties, conciliation or other peaceful means of the choice of the parties, any party
to a dispute may submit the dispute to one of the procedures entailing binding decisions
provided for in the Convention (art. 287, para. 1). In addition to the already existing
International Court of Justice (hereafter ICJ), the Convention envisages the creation of
new procedures specialised in the law of the sea: the International Tribunal for the Law
of the Sea, an arbitration tribunal and special arbitration tribunals. While the ICJ, the
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (hereafter ITLOS, or the Tribunal) and
the arbitration tribunal have a general jurisdiction, the special arbitration tribunals may
be entrusted with the following categories of disputes: 1. fisheries; 2. protection and
preservation of the marine environment; 3. marine scientific research, and 4. navigation,
including pollution from vessels and by dumping.
However, not all the disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the
Convention may be submitted at the request of any party to the dispute to the court or
tribunal having jurisdiction under Section 2 – Compulsory procedures entailing binding
decisions. The agreement at UNCLOS III was possible only when the applicability of
such procedures concerning disputes with regard to the exercise by a coastal State of
its sovereign rights or jurisdiction was limited (art. 297); and optional exceptions were
provided with respect to disputes concerning sea boundary delimitations, disputes concern-
ing military activities and enforcement activities, and disputes in respect of which the
UN Security Council is exercising its functions (art. 298). Yet, nothing can prevent parties
to a dispute falling into the above categories to agree to submit it to any of the procedures
entailing binding decisions (art. 299).

2 The Convention was opened for signature in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on December 10, 1982. However,
because of its provisions on the activities in the international seabed area (the Area), it was not acceptable
to industrialised States. In order to make the universal participation in the Convention possible, on 28 July
1994, the Agreement for the implementation of its Part XI was adopted in resolution 48/263 of the UN
General Assembly; the Agreement and Part XI of the LOS Convention shall be interpreted and applied
together as a single instrument (art. 2 of the Agreement).
On 16 November 1994, the Convention entered into force, and as at 31 July 2000 there were 133 States
Parties to the Convention (132 States and the European Community).
X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES 303

Commentators rightly stress that the principle of compulsory resort to procedures


entailing binding decisions is significantly restricted by articles 297 and 298, and that
the scope of those limitations and optional exceptions is not sufficiently clear.3
The proliferation of judicial organs creates the problem of the choice of the procedure
applicable to a certain dispute (case). Any State, when signing, ratifying or acceding
to the Convention or at any time thereafter, is free to choose, by means of written
declaration, one or more of those procedures. If the parties to a dispute (or one of them)
have not expressly accepted any of the procedures mentioned in the Convention, or they
have not accepted the same procedure, the dispute may be submitted only to arbitration,
unless the parties otherwise agree (art. 287, para. 5).
While the mentioned rules concerning the choice of procedure give priority to the
arbitration tribunal, other relevant rules of the Convention point out ITLOS as the primary
forum for dispute settlement under the LOS Convention. In respect of some categories
of disputes, the Tribunal has priority over other procedures or even exclusive jurisdiction.
This paper does not attempt a systematic overview of the rather complicated system
of dispute settlement under the LOS Convention; it only seeks to shed some light upon
one of the judicial institutions established under the Convention – the International
Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. We shall deal with its composition, its jurisdiction,
access to the Tribunal and the applicable law. This analysis should make clearer the
characteristics that distinguish this institution from the other three judicial procedures
envisaged by the Convention.

2. COMPOSITION

In addition to the ICJ, the Tribunal is the only mechanism provided for in article 287
of the Convention, which has a fixed membership. The arbitration tribunal and the special
arbitration tribunals have to be constituted in every particular case submitted to them,
preferably of members chosen from the lists of arbitrators and experts established in
accordance with Annexes VII and VIII to the Convention.
However, there are several differences between the establishment of the ICJ and
ITLOS. Being the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the members of the
ICJ are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. On the other
hand, as ITLOS is an independent judicial institution established in accordance with the

3 See: T. Treves, “The Law of the Sea Tribunal: Its Status and Scope of Jurisdiction after November 16, 1994”,
55 Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, (1995), pp. 421-451, at pp. 42-46; Sh.
Oda, “Dispute Settlement Prospects in the Law of the Sea”, 44 The International and Comparative Law
Quarterly, (1995), pp. 863-872; A.E. Boyle, “Dispute Settlement and the Law of the Sea Convention:
Problems of Fragmentation and Jurisdiction”, 46 The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, (1997),
pp. 37-54, at pp. 42-46.
304 18 – SOME FEATURES OF ITLOS

LOS Convention and Annex VI thereto, its members are elected by the meetings of States
Parties to the Convention. The difference between the two judicial bodies is reflected
also in their financing. The budget of the ICJ is an integral part of the UN budget, while
the expenses of the Tribunal are to be borne by the States Parties and by the International
Seabed Authority (art. 19, para. 1 of Annex VI).4 Such a solution for the financing of
ITLOS is due to the fact that its main activity is the settlement of disputes between the
States Parties, while the functions of its Seabed Disputes Chamber are related to the
activities under the control of the Seabed Authority. However, if an entity other than
a State Party or the Authority is a party to a case submitted to the Tribunal it also has
to contribute towards the expenses of the Tribunal.
There are similarities, but also differences in the composition of the two bodies. The
requirements concerning the “moral character” and “recognized competence in inter-
national law” (art. 2 of the ICJ Statute) have mutatis mutandis been taken over to the
ITLOS Statute. Under article 2 of the Statute, the 21 “independent members” of the
Tribunal have to be elected “from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for
fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea”
(para. 1).
It is not appropriate for a member of the Tribunal to try to evaluate whether the first
21 members, elected by the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the LOS Convention on
1 August 1996, satisfy the mentioned conditions. However, some facts may be stated:
a great majority of the elected judges participated in the Third United Nations Conference
on the Law of the Sea (two of them were chairmen of the Main Committees, three were
members of the Secretariat of the Conference, etc.) and in the Preparatory Commission
for the International Seabed Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law
of the Sea (including its first President). A majority of them are renowned authors in
the field of the law of the sea.5
A fear has been expressed respecting the fact that the nominees for ITLOS are
required only to be persons of “recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea”
and not in international law in general, as the law of the sea is “an integral part of
international law as a whole”.6 Although it is difficult to determine when a person can
be said to have “recognized competence” in international law, it is interesting to note
that 12 of the present 21 members of the Tribunal were at one time or the other professors

4 See C.-A. Fleischhauer, The Relationship between the International Court of Justice and the Newly Created
Law of the Sea Tribunal. Address given on 28 November 1996 on the occasion of a visit to the International
Court of Justice of the Independent World Commission on Oceans.
5 On the initial composition of the Tribunal more details in: A. Yankov, The International Tribunal for the
Law of the Sea. Its place within the Dispute Settlement System of the UN Law of the Sea Convention.
Presentation at the Deutsch-Bulgarische Gesellschaft, Hamburg, 20 February 1997, p. 11.
6 Oda, op. cit., p. 864.
X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES 305

of international law, and 7 are members/associate members of the Institute of International


Law (Institut de Droit International).
In addition to the specialisation of the members of the Tribunal in the law of the
sea and the attractiveness of its procedure,7 there is another characteristic of the com-
position of the Tribunal which may prove to be relevant for States Parties from all
different parts of the world. Article 2, paragraph 2 of its Statute provides that “in the
Tribunal as a whole the representation of the principal legal systems of the world and
equitable geographical distribution shall be assured” (the same requirements are stated
also in respect of the selection of the members of the Seabed Disputes Chamber – art.
35, para. 2 of Annex VI). There are two additional rules to the above principles: “no
two members of the Tribunal may be nationals of the same State” and “there shall be
no fewer than three members from each geographical group as established by the General
Assembly of the United Nations” (art. 3). On the basis of these rules, the Fifth Meeting
of States Parties (New York, 24 July to 2 August 1996) decided to distribute the 21 places
in the Tribunal as follows: African group 5, Asian group 5, East European Group 3, Latin
American 4 and West European and Other States group 4.
Although there is no general agreement concerning the interpretation of the expression
“principal legal systems”, and the criteria of “equitable geographical distribution” are
vague, there could be no major objections to the distribution of the 21 places in ITLOS.
It broadly corresponds to the number of States in the five relevant UN geographical
groups, and to the number of States Parties at the time of the first elections to the Tribunal
(100) coming from each of the regional groups.8 Although there may be disappointments
in one or the other geographical group or among States belonging to a “principal legal
system”, there are no such discrepancies in the composition of ITLOS as in the ICJ, where
one-third of the judges (5 out of 15) are nationals of States belonging to the West
European and Other States group. Such an overrepresentation of one region in that body
continues, notwithstanding the increased number of new members of the United Nations
(and Parties to the ICJ Statute) from other regions, and the Statute’s provision which
requires “the representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal
systems of the world” in the Court (art. 9 of the ICJ Statute).

3. JURISDICTION AND ACCESS

The listing of four different means for binding settlement of disputes concerning the
interpretation or application of the LOS Convention (art. 287) may leave the impression
that the choice of States Parties depends exclusively upon their preference for one or

7 See: Fleischhauer, op. cit., p. 6.


8 Boyle, op. cit., p. 50.
306 18 – SOME FEATURES OF ITLOS

the other of the mentioned courts or tribunals. That impression is only partially correct,
as all these courts and tribunals do not have the same jurisdiction and therefore the States
Parties are not completely free in the choice of the forum for their cases.
The principle that a “court or tribunal referred to in article 287 shall have jurisdiction
over any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention...” (art.
288, para. 1) has a very important exception. The ICJ, the arbitration tribunal and the
special arbitration tribunals to be constituted in accordance with Annexes VII and VIII
to the LOS Convention do not have jurisdiction over disputes with respect to activities
in the Area (art. 187 and 188). Generally, the jurisdiction in respect of such disputes
is given to the Seabed Disputes Chamber, formed within ITLOS. However, a limited
category of such disputes – those between States Parties concerning the interpretation
or application of the Convention – may, at the request of the parties to the dispute, be
submitted either to one of the special chambers to be formed in the Tribunal, or, at the
request of any party to the dispute, to an ad hoc chamber of the Seabed Disputes Chamber
(art. 188, para. 1).
The special rules concerning disputes over the interpretation or application of the
provisions on the activities in the Area in the different chambers of ITLOS prove that
the drafters of the LOS Convention wanted to exclude any other court or tribunal – in-
cluding the ICJ – from hearing such disputes.9
A special characteristic of the procedure envisaged for disputes concerning seabed
activities is the permission given to the party to submit disputes over the interpretation
or application of a contract relating to the activities in the Area to binding commercial
arbitration, unless the parties otherwise agree. However, a commercial arbitration tribunal
to which the dispute is submitted shall have no jurisdiction to decide any question of
interpretation of the LOS Convention. When the dispute also involves a question of the
interpretation of the Convention’s provisions on the activities in the Area, the question
has to be referred to the Seabed Disputes Chamber for a ruling [art. 188, para. 2 (a)].
While the competence of the Seabed Disputes Chamber is limited only to seabed
disputes, ITLOS is entitled to form other special chambers for dealing with particular
categories of disputes. During its Second (Organisational) Session (3-28 February 1997),
in addition to the Seabed Disputes Chamber, the Tribunal selected the members of the
Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes and the Chamber for Fisheries Disputes.
However, the creation of those two chambers does not detract from the full Tribunal’s
jurisdiction in fisheries and environmental matters; a dispute shall be heard by one of
those chambers only if the parties to the dispute so request (art. 15, para. 4 of Annex VI).

9 Fleischhauer is of the opinion that inter-State disputes concerning activities in the Area and involving
interpretation or application of Part XI of the LOS Convention, by consensus between the parties may be
brought to the ICJ; Fleischhauer, op. cit., p. 9.
X – SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES 307

On the other hand, the special arbitration tribunals provided for in article 287,
paragraph 1, are only entitled to deal with one or more of the categories of disputes
indicated in Annex VIII: (1) fisheries; (2) protection and preservation of the marine
environment; (3) ma