Understanding the Law of the Sea

To understand the law of the sea, one must know that it is a body of international law that manages every legal issue of the states. Generally speaking, it is a system that is concerned with claims to sea resources, navigational rights, and coastal jurisdictions. As this is an interesting topic it would be good to examine it a bit better and go over some of the details on how the law of the sea is handled.      

How was Law of the Sea drafted 

As open waters are not a part of any country or state it is hard to say who should regulate the activities there. So, to address the problem Law of the Sea was comprised using various international customs, agreements, and treaties, and it was largely modeled by UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1994. Furthermore, this law is a public counterpart of maritime law that is mostly concerned with rights of salvage, ship accidents, and insurance, and transport of goods by sea. 

What is the purpose of the Law of the Sea?

The purpose of this law is for the governments to maintain order and peaceful relations even on the world sea. In other words, it helps governments ascertain where their territorial law applies and where international law is active. To get clarity on that topic NOAA nautical charts are used as they depict those territorial borders on the sea. This radius is projected from a so-called “normal baseline” which is a costal point used for establishing these boundaries. 

One of the main reasons why these laws are a necessity is because it helps preserve human lives, and also human culture. There are traces of human civilization and cities below the surface, which makes them cultural heritage sites. As governments agree that those sites need to be preserved, it is only reasonable that multiple governing agencies need to be involved in maintaining the order.

Doesn’t this also get confusing? 

Indeed it does, especially when certain issues need to be resolved, however, thanks to online databases understanding ocean-governing statues is a lot easier nowadays. Considering how data is publicly available users can easily find tons of legal documents, including court decisions and legislative history in general. For those of you who have a strong legal background, you’ll likely notice gaps in these constitutes, and you are welcome to contribute by offering suggestions on how to better this system.

Although regulating international waters is an opportunity for global collaboration, it is worth mentioning that not all countries exercise control over those boundaries. One famous example is Somalia, a country known for piracy, unregulated fishing, and dumping waste into the sea.  

Hopefully, you have a slightly better understanding of how the law applies to the open sea, even if you are technically not within the borders of a single country.