The Territorial Sea, International Straits, and Archipelagos

O.P. Sharma

in The International Law of the Sea

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780198060000
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081981 | DOI:
The Territorial Sea, International Straits, and Archipelagos

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This chapter describes the legal status of territorial sea, international straits, and archipelagic waters around a coastal State. The author describes how territorial waters around a coastal State were debated (it now rest at twelve nautical miles), and how the sovereignty of these waters, the seabed under them, and the air space above them was ensured. The Right of Innocent Passage— especially that of warships—is then discussed. The author goes on to describe problems relating to the delimitation of the territorial waters between adjacent coastal States. The most important juridical question concerning ocean navigation discussed in the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was the nature of the Right of Innocent Passage through international straits. The Corfu Channel decision (allowing warships and merchant vessels free transit through international states during peace time) had considerable impact upon deliberations of the International Law Commission. The author also shows how India closely monitored the extent of support to the concept of Unimpeded Transit Passage. The Chapter concludes with a discussion of drawing of baselines over archpelagic waters and their control by coastal States, with a focus on India’s interests in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The evolution and formal acceptance of the concept of archipelagic States for the first time was a distinctive achievement of the Third UNCLOS.

Keywords: territorial sea; international straits; archipelagic waters; law of the sea; baselines; Right of Innocent Passage; Unimpeded Transit Passage; International Law Commission; United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea; Corfu Channel

Chapter.  16202 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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