International Law of the Sea

derecho internacional del mar

The international law of the sea is a set of rules and agreements that regulate the activities and uses of the oceans and seas at the global level. These rules are designed to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, as well as to establish a legal framework for resolving disputes and promoting cooperation among countries on maritime issues.

The international law of the sea is mainly based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is a treaty adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994. UNCLOS establishes a wide range of principles and rules for the management of the oceans and their resources. Some of the main aspects and rules of the international law of the sea are:

Maritime Zones

  1. Territorial Waters: Extend up to 12 nautical miles from a country’s coastal baseline. The riparian states have full control over these waters.
  2. Contiguous Zone: It extends up to 24 nautical miles from the coastal baseline. In this zone, states can take measures to prevent and sanction customs, tax, immigration and sanitary infractions.
  3. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): It extends up to 200 nautical miles from the coastal baseline. States have exclusive rights to exploit and manage marine and mineral resources in this area.
  4. Continental Shelf: Beyond the EEZ, states may claim an extended continental shelf under certain conditions.

Alta Mar

The high seas refer to areas outside national jurisdictions, where all states have freedom of navigation, overflight, fishing, scientific research and other peaceful uses.

Marine Resources

UNCLOS establishes principles for the management and conservation of marine resources, including living resources such as fisheries.

The adoption of measures to prevent overexploitation and ensure the sustainability of resources is promoted.

Pollution and Environmental Protection:

UNCLOS contains provisions to prevent marine pollution, including pollution from oil spills and toxic substances.

Scientific Research

States have the right to conduct marine scientific research and to cooperate in research on the high seas.

Dispute Resolution

UNCLOS establishes procedures for resolving disputes related to the interpretation and application of its provisions, including resolution through international tribunals.

The international law of the sea is essential to ensure cooperation among countries in the use and conservation of marine resources and the protection of the marine environment. However, challenges remain in implementation and dispute resolution, especially in areas with overlapping interests. UNCLOS and other related rules are key tools to address these challenges in a peaceful and cooperative manner.