The Legal Regime of Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Seas: The Particular Case of the Mediterranean
United Nations, international law, Law of the Sea Convention, sea, jurisdiction, border
The 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention has not only codified the relatively scant corpus of international law relating to the rubrics of enclosed semi-enclosed seas, but it has also given some guidance toward the future evolution of this unique body of sea law. Accordingly the underlying thesis advanced by a number of distinguished authors at a conference - convened by the Inter-University Center in Dubrovnik - is that the Law of the Sea Convention does not represent a definitive or complete corpus of law; rather the general articles will acquire substance from state practice, bilateral agreements between border and adjacent states, and multilateral conventions that apply to such areas as the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles. Precise rules of law are emerging from such general concepts as the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone, and conservation of natural resources, along with the rights of bordering states to exploit their off-shore areas without damaging the delicate ecosystems. In reality, the attempt is made to detect rules of law that are evolving from the convention's general-type articles that seek future cooperation. Hence, it is valid to conceive of this large volume as a search for emerging law within the scope of semi-enclosed seas. Within this context, the contributors are especially conscious of continental shelf regions, because of the delicate chain of life and the fishery resources they support against competing interests, primarily oil and gas drilling. Thus, it is accurate to conclude that all of the authors are dedicated to the preservation of the environment within the semi-enclosed seas around the Mediterranean Basin. As such, a number of unique, though closely related, legal problems confront these bordering states. Because of the limited areas of enclosed seas, it is impossible for states to adopt a complete two hundred mile exclusive economic zone or to claim the full extent of a continental shelf, which involves the rights of adjacent states.
Paul Gormley, "The Legal Regime of Enclosed or Semi-Enclosed Seas: The Particular Case of the Mediterranean" (1992) 14:3 Dal LJ 566.