The law of the sea and the Indian ocean

  • Upali Karunatilleke

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Arvid Pardo, the ambassador of Malta presented a revolutionary concept regarding "the sea bed and the ocean floor" when he warned the United States that it must be treated as a "Common heritage of mankind" otherwise it is an area that could lead to conflict between states leading to wars that would spell the end of humanity. The United States took serious note of the underlying potential truth of this warning, sponsored a number of conventions of the Law of the Sea which led to the adoption of UNCLOS III, which was unique in so many respects but the most notable was, it served as a constitution for the management of the ocean. Two main functions of the sea, namely fisheries and the prevention of pollution, whether land based or vessel sourced, received the attention of the world community that participated at the conference that prompted them to adopt a legal framework to establish a conservation and management programme in relation to both subjects. Coastal states were conferred greater jurisdiction, with an expansion of the territorial sea, contiguous sea and a new concept of a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone which specified new rights and obligations to all users of the sea, be they coastal states, flag states, port states or any other user. They had to abide these rights and obligations as part of international law. The implementation of these rights and obligations needed the best scientific evidence and knowledge available as well as the cooperation of competent international organisations. It was further envisaged that regional and sub-regional arrangements would be a benevolent method of implementing and monitoring the rights and obligations of states. It was observed that the northern hemisphere states, particularly in the north Atlantic, north Pacific, the North sea, Balkan sea and the Mediterranean sea realized the advantages of regionalism. They brought results such as controlling pollution in the North sea, an area encircled by industrialized states emitting chemical wastes into the sea, with the adoption of harmonized municipal laws. Another significant achievement was the prevention of oil-spills be legislating for double hulling of vessels. The Indian Ocean is surrounded by 28 states, which are categorized as "developing states in the Third world", with the only exception as Australia. These states acquired large resources of the sea with the adoption of UNCLOS III. But they are yet to identify the rights and obligations devolving on them and to realize that if they adhere to the new law, the management of the ocean affairs would ensure sustainable development and contribute to the war against poverty, which is the greatest challenge. This study has identified how these states could, particularly in regard to the prevention of marine pollution and managing living resources, a regional effort could achieve harmonization of laws and make a concerted effort to maintain scientific standard of management and avoid conflict.
    Date of Award2004
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Nottingham Trent University

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