Un on High Seas Laws

Topics: Ocean, International waters, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Pages: 5 (1927 words) Published: February 28, 2013
The UN General Assembly resolved and declared the resources of the High Seas as the Common heritage of the mankind which shall be governed by a proposed international regime- Comment. Common heritage of mankind is a principle of international law which holds that defined territorial areas and elements of humanity's common heritage that includes both cultural and natural should be held in trust for future generations and be protected from exploitation by individual nation states or corporations. Immanuel Kant in his essay Toward Perpetual Peace claimed that the expansion of hospitality with regard to "use of the right to the earth's surface which belongs to the human race in common" would "finally bring the human race ever closer to a cosmopolitan constitution". The concept of Common Heritage of Mankind, however, was first specifically enunciated in international law in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Under Customary rules of International Law, the term high seas means, the part of the sea which are not included in the territorial waters. The rule was formulated in 1609 by Grotious in his treatise mare liberum by arguing that the sea cannot be owned. According to him “the sea is one of those things which is not an article of merchandise, and which cannot become private property. Hence it follows, to speak strictly, that no part of the sea can be considered as territory of any people whatsoever.” Later the prominent writers of the 18th century also advocated for the freedom of open seas. The meaning of high seas was transformed into treaty rules in the year 1958, when the Geneva Convention on High Seas was adopted. The article 1 of Geneva Convention on High Seas states that high seas is that part of the sea that are not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a state. The regime of high sea has changed considerably under the Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 which lays down under article 86 that all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic zone, in the territorial waters of a state or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State would Constitute high seas. Thus, the area of the high seas has been substantially reduced under the convention of 1982. The high seas, shorthand for that portion of the ocean that lies beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, including the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, make up 64% of the world’s oceans and nearly 50% of the planet’s surface. It is generally 200 nautical miles from the coast. This vast area, once mistakenly considered an empty wasteland, is now understood to contain the largest reservoir of biodiversity left on earth. Multiplying human activities pose a variety of threats to high seas ecosystems, including overfishing, noise, plastic and chemical pollution, habitat destruction, and now ocean warming and ocean acidification related to rising concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has 320 articles, set out in seventeen parts, as well as nine annexes. Parts II to XI concern the different maritime zones: territorial sea and contiguous zone, straits used for international navigation, archipelagic waters, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, the high seas, the International Seabed Area, and special provisions on the regime of islands and of enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. Parts XII to XIV concern specific marine activities and questions in all areas: the protection of the environment, marine scientific research, and the development and transfer of marine technology. Part XV (and annexes 5 to 8) concerns the settlement of disputes. Parts XVI and XVII set out general and final clauses.

Today, 13 percent of the world's land areas are protected, but less than one percent of global marine areas are, leaving these ecosystems exposed and vulnerable to threats. Further, there is almost no protection of marine ecosystems and biodiversity...
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