NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh and Robert Beckman
Chapter 7: Rights and obligations in areas of overlapping maritime claims
This chapter examines the rights and obligations of coastal States which have advanced claims to maritime sovereignty or jurisdiction over the same area, and discusses some special aspects of overlaps in the South China Sea. There exist many areas of overlapping claims where the claimant States have not agreed on the delimitation of a maritime boundary. The expansion of the maximum limits of coastal State sovereignty and jurisdiction witnessed in the second half of the twentieth century increased significantly the number of overlaps. In the typical case, there are two claimants, but in some instances there are three or even four. Most often, the claimants are making similar claims, whether to territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf, but in certain situations the claims may differ in that one State claims a territorial sea and the other claims an EEZ or continental shelf. The existence of areas of overlapping maritime claims can give rise to problems in inter-State relations, both between claimant States and in the relations between a claimant State and third States. Disagreement and conflict over the unilateral conduct of activities is fairly common in maritime areas where the question of the boundary is actually in dispute.
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