Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Alexander Orakhelashvili
Chapter 4: Jurisdiction of states and the law of the sea
One of the primary functions of international law concerns the spatial distribution of jurisdiction of states, and the same applies to the law of the sea. The contemporary international law of the sea divides the ocean into multiple jurisdictional zones. In principle, the law of the sea provides rules concerning state jurisdiction according to these jurisdictional zones. Given that the oceans constitute approximately 70 per cent of our planet, the examination of state jurisdiction over marine spaces is of particular importance when considering spatial order in international law. Thus this chapter will seek to examine jurisdiction of states in the international law of the sea. Multiple jurisdictional zones in the law of the sea are a product of history. Traditionally the law was based on the dualism on the oceans, namely, the narrow territorial sea which is under the territorial sovereignty of the coastal state and the vast high seas which are governed by the principle of freedom of the sea. After the Second World War, the oceans were further divided into multiple jurisdictional zones. The decisive step toward the division of the oceans was taken by the Truman Proclamations on the Continental Shelf and Fisheries of 28 September 1945.
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