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The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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Introduction

The principal question to be resolved by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, in what concerns the straits' regime, was the allocation of an authority to control and regulate air and sea communications that would balance the interests of States relying on the use of straits for air and sea communications with the interests of coastal states, which would be affected by such use. These diverse interests (as considered in the Corfu Channel case (1949) by the International Court of Justice) along with the growth of the world trade and the heightened awareness of the need to protect the marine environment were the main forces that had led to debate over the selection of a new legal regime to govern air and sea communication through straits. For some States, including many States bordering the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, The Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, the use of straits is essential if they are to have access to the high seas and to the ocean communications' system as a whole. For those States, such as Japan1, straits are central links in the routes of supply of vital resources and commodities. To our contemporary international community, ensuring an unimpeded right of navigation and overflight through the straits is vital not only to some western naval powers, but also to average industrialized countries. ...read more.

Middle

The concept of the transit passage is wider than that of innocent passage. One can easily enumerate the differences between innocent passage regime and transit passage regime. Apart from the difference in concept, which is appreciable, the more important differences lie in the various provisions, or absences thereof, governing the two regimes. It has been demonstrated that certain prohibited activities under Articles 39 and 40 of the LOSC do not render passage non-transit, since there is absence of any explicit provision which render the coastal states the right to take necessary steps in straits area to prevent passage that is non-transit, whereas similar activities in the context of innocent passage may render passage non-innocent. Thus, certain activities which are prohibited for innocent passage according to article 19(2) of the LOSC appear not to be inconsistent with transit under article 38(2) of the LOSC. For example, a passage becomes non-innocent if, during passage, an exercise or practice with weapons is carried out11. Such an activity is not expressly prohibited for transit passage and could be consistent with transit passage under article 38(2) of the LOSC. Further to that, in case of non-compliance with the laws and regulations of the coastal states, warships may be required to leave the territorial sea under the art.30 of the LOSC while there is no provision that warships may be required to cease transit passage for the same reason. ...read more.

Conclusion

2 See Maritime Economics, Martin Stopford, 2nd edition, ch.2, p.61 "...The events which followed the Suez crisis provide a case study: Nobody seemed to expect the recession which subsequently occurred, a depression which must be considered the worst since the middle thirties From sky high rates at the end of 1956 they fell through to what can only be termed an almost rock bottom level...". 3 The significance of straits in strategic calculations stems from their potential use as choke-points where the nuclear missile submarines of one state may be detected and then trailed by the anti-submarine warfare elements of opposing states. See A. QUANBECK & B. BLECHMAN, STRATEGIC FORCES: ISSUES FOR THE MID-SEVENTIES 81 (Brookings Institution Staff Paper ) ( 1973 ) 4 The Indonesian representative speaking before Subcommittee II of the Seabeds Committee asserted that a free transit regime for straits "could turn Indonesian waters into an area of confrontation and conflict between opposing naval powers in which the only part played by Indonesia would be that of victim". He also commented, "In fact the mere presence of foreign warships and submarines in Indonesian waters could set off domestic political reactions." 5 off the coast of Cornwall, England. 6 off Puerto Rico in 1967. 7 LOSC, art 42(1). 8 The so-called Florida strait between the USA and Cuba would be an example. 9 The straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily. 10 The straits of Tiran. 11 LOSC,art 19(2)(b). 12 [1986] ICJ Rep.14, at 102-4, 110-11. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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