The role of unilateral acts of the states in the evolution of international customary law can be hardly exaggerated. They have contributed vastly to the generation of a wide range of principles and rules on diverse aspects of international law often , they act as trend – setters in state practice, thus initiating or pressing forth a change in the law.(1)
This is particularly true in the realm of the law of the sea. Most part of the traditional law of the sea emerged on the basis of unilateral acts of the states, and the many changes effected to it have been through unilateral acts, such as the Truman Declaration of 1945. This underscores the operational significance of the unilateral competence of a coastal state to determine the various national maritime zones. Sea Law has evolved steadily and gradually since Grotius 's time. The dominant states earlier laid comprehensive claims of jurisdiction over different parts of the open sea. In the 20th century, with developments in trade and commerce and the real. The law developed from well-settled usages that resulted in customary law. The hallmark of this statute, which was practiced up until the middle of the 20th century, was basically one of non-regulation and laissez-faire, with the exception of territorial waters, The legislation essentially endorsed the 'open sea' doctrine. But the U.S. declared proclamation jurisdiction over the continental shelf that gave a new direction to maritime law. Many nations made sweeping claims to safeguard their military and economic interests. Such findings underlined the importance of codify legislation with a view to striving for uniformity and resolving maritime conflicts between nations. The issue has been placed on the agenda of International Law commission 1949.
The first United Nation’s Conference on the law of sea took place at Geneva2 Based on the drafts drawn up by ILC in 1958. 1958 Geneva Convention on the Law of the Sea 82 States participated in the convention which adopted the following four convents- 1. Territorial Sea and Contiguous Area Convention 2. Convention on the High Sea, Fishing and Human Land Conservation 3.Convention on the Continental Shelf. The most important thing left unresolved was territorial sea length. This was so that all the states did not comply with one and the same territorial sea cap. In 1960, in Geneva, Second Conference on the Law of the Sea was held in order to address this specific question, but it again failed due to different arguments of the States. It was realized, however, that both of these conferences were inadequate on the law of the sea.(3)
In 1973 the First Session of the Third United Nations Conference on Sea Law was held in New York. The Conference accepted the Law of the Sea Convention in 1982, at the end of nine years in 12 meetings.
The Law of the Sea Convention, 19824
1. The Convention is composed of 320 Articles17 Sections, and annexes to nine. Besides that, there are four resolutions.
2. The Protocol covers the land occupied by the 1958 thfour Geneva Convention, which introduces new regimes.
3. Yes, many of the laws replicate the laws of the Geneva Conventions verbatim or in essence, or offer more detail rules on the matter covered by them . It contains provisions on those matters on the new legal regimes of exclusive Economic Zones and the deep sea bed .
4. It has laid down a 12 nautical miles limit for the territorial sea.
5. The convention contains detailed machinery for the settlement of disputes, including an international tribunal for the law of the sea.
6. It also provides for the compulsory judicial settlement of most of the disputes that may arise under the convention, at the request of one of the parties to the dispute.
India 's position with regard to maritime law is generally governed by Article 297 of the Indian Constitution and by the Laws on Territorial Water, Continental Shelf, EEZ and other Maritime Zones. The Maritime Zones Act proclaims India 's jurisdiction over India's territorial waters and the underlying seabed and sub-soil, and airspace over those seas. The territorial limit is the line each point being at a distance of 12 nautical miles from the nearest point of the applicable baseline. All foreign ships are granted the right to travel innocently across territorial waters.
1 On unilateral acts of states ,see generally ,Ian Brownlie , Principles of Public International Law 615 ff. (2nd ed. 1973). 2 http://www.environmentandsociety.org/tools/keywords/first-united-nations-conference-law- sea#:~:text=Environment%20%26%20Society%20Portal-First%20United%20Nations%20Conference%20on%20the%20Law%20of%20the%20Sea,with%2086%20states%2 0in%20attendance.. 3 https://legal.un.org/diplomaticconferences/1960_los/docs/english/vol_1/a_conf19_l15.pdf.
Author- Aeshna Raghuwanshi, Content Writer , Legal Eagle.