The South China Sea Disputes and Law of the Sea

The South China Sea Disputes and Law of the Sea

NUS Centre for International Law series

Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh and Robert Beckman

South China Sea Disputes And Law Of The Sea explores in great detail the application of specific provisions of UNCLOS and how the framework of international law applies to the South China Sea. Offering a comprehensive analysis of the individual topics and their application to the South China Sea region, each chapter of the book provides a substantive and rigorous investigation into the history, development and application of the relevant legal principles. It is written within the global context so that lessons learned from this exercise will have global implications. Contributors include former judges from ITLOS, legal advisors to States who participated in the negotiation and drafting of UNCLOS, as well as outstanding scholars of both law and geography, many of whom have acted as counsel or experts in cases before international court and tribunals.

Chapter 2: Defining the ‘boundary’ between land and sea: territorial sea baselines in the South China Sea

Clive Schofield

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, maritime law, public international law

Extract

Baselines along the coast define the land/sea interface. Ascertaining the location of this ‘boundary’ between land and sea has crucial implications with respect to maritime jurisdiction. This is the case because while the longstanding legal maxim that ‘the land dominates the sea’ prevails, it has also been observed that ‘it dominates it by the intermediary of the coastal front’, that is, through baselines along the coast. What are traditionally termed ‘territorial sea baselines’ provide specific expression to the concept of coastal front. Such baselines, despite their name, are relevant to the definition of all maritime zones. This is because they provide the ‘starting line’ for the measurement of the limits of maritime claims (see Figure 2.1). In this context it is worth emphasising that the determination of baselines is necessarily a technical as well as legal endeavour.

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