Unclos Ii

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For centuries, the law of sea was based on the concept of freedom of the seas, with nations' control of the oceans limited to narrow bands adjacent to their coasts. By the middle of the twentieth century, as the nations increased their capability to engage in long range fishing and commercial extraction, concerns arose about pollution and the exhaustibility of ocean resources. In addition, the concept of freedom of the seas was eroding, as many nations had asserted sovereignty over wider areas, claiming rights to the resources of the continental shelf and the water above. It became necessary to develop a treaty-based regime for ocean governance. After the Second World War, the international community requested that the United Nations International law Commission to consider codifying the existing laws relating to the oceans. The commission began working towards this in 1949 and prepared four draft conventions, which were adopted at the first UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, 1958. There are certain areas in which first conference failed to take decisions. Hence the Second United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS II) was held from March 17 to April 26, of 1960.

The law of the sea developed from the struggle between coastal states, who sought to expand their control over marine areas adjacent to their coastlines. By the end of the 18th century, it was understood that the states had sovereignty over their territorial sea. Territorial sea means sea which is adjacent to the coastal state over which the state exercises sovereignty. There were several unsettled debates especially with respect to the breadth of the territorial sea which was one of the main topics of discussion in UNCLOS II. According to the Bynker Shoek`s view the maximum breadth of the territorial sea is the distance that a shore-based cannon could reach and that a coastal state could therefore control. This was generally considered to be three miles. This rule is termed as cannon shot rule. During and after the Napoleonic war the British and American courts transferred cannon shot rule into 3 miles rule from the lowest water mark. Eminent Scholar, Grotius was of the view of limiting the dominion to the distance to which protection could reach it from the shore. Further Vattel was of the opinion that the dominion of state over neighbouring sea extended as far as her safety rendered it necessary and her power was able to assert it. In Franconia case (R V. Keyn) in case of absence of legislation British criminal court had no jurisdiction over the offences committed by a foreigner on foreign vessel within 3 miles. Thus Sec 7 of the Territorial waters Act was enacted which stood for territorial sea extension as 3 geographical miles from lowest water mark. Thus there arose need for appropriate International Legislation for governing the Law of the Sea. Due regard in this respect resulted in Hague conference of 1930 which was an unsuccessful attempt for fixing the breadth of territorial sea. Thus the First United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I) was convened in the year 1960. First conference failed to define limits of territorial sea and fishing zone. With respect to the breadth of territorial sea states failed to agree to one and same limit of territorial sea in the first conference. There are various reasons for the failure of First conference. Different claims of extend of territorial sea, large scale extraction of minerals, oil and gas, and increased efficiency and capacity of some states to exploit them are...
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