Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2014

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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6 Proceedings Spring 2014 For example, President Ronald Reagan extended U.S. terri- torial seas in 1988 to the full 12 nautical miles permitted by international law. 4 As such, the "sea borders" of the United States may be characterized as consonant with its territorial sea. 5 While one can transit from maritime zone to mari- time zone (e.g., a ship sailing from a contiguous zone to an exclusive economic zone), the territorial sea is appropriately considered a state's sea border since it is the only zone in which the coastal state has sovereignty similar to that exer- cised on land. 6 While the LOSC provides defnitive international guidance for drawing baselines and establishing sovereign rights, international tribunals are still called upon to resolve mari- time sovereignty disputes and draw enforceable boundar- ies at sea. For example, the International Court of Justice recently examined a dispute between Nicaragua and Colom- bia regarding sovereignty over certain features in the West- ern Caribbean Sea. In its decision, the court awarded certain land features and a surrounding band of water to Colombia and the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf out- side that band of water to Nicaragua. 7 Similar issues, includ- ing ownership of fsheries and mineral resources, are impli- cated in the simmering Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands dispute between Japan and China. 8 These cases demonstrate that although the foundational principles of maritime borders are widely accepted, there are still international disagree- ments about the exact locations of certain boundaries. The Rights of Sovereigns at International Borders States have consistently imposed barriers at international borders and ports of entry for various purposes, such as deterring invading armies, imposing trade taxes, imple- menting quarantine measures, and preventing illegal entry. Territorial integrity is an essential characteristic of mod- ern states and securing a country's international borders is When U.S. Coast Guard personnel seize a multi-ton load of cocaine from a go-fast vessel in the Caribbean, interdict a boat crowded with migrants in the Mona Pass, or clear a ship carrying 2,500 cargo containers for entry into the Port of Hampton Roads, they are protecting U.S. international borders. State sovereignty and territorial integrity are fundamen- tal concepts in international relations, and understanding them is essential to understanding international borders. Fundamentally, international borders have two essential functions: • preventing unwanted persons and objects from entering a country, • facilitating the safe fow of lawful travel and commerce among nations. In the maritime context, the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) provides universally accepted principles for estab- lishing borders at sea as well as delineating the various maritime zones, including the contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, and high seas. Building upon centuries of maritime precedent, the convention also delineates limits and regulations for the territorial sea, archipelagic waters, and the continental shelf. 1 While the authority of the coastal state is different in each of these zones, the general rule is that a coastal state's authority or power over a particular zone of water decreases as the distance from land increases. 2 From a maritime perspective, nations may exercise sovereignty over their territorial seas, which may be up to 12 nautical miles wide, measured from baselines established in accordance with the LOSC. How- ever, this authority is still subject to certain navigational rights designed to guarantee freedom of the seas, such as the right of innocent passage. 3 Understanding Maritime Borders Sovereign rights at international borders. by LCDR AAron CAsAvAnt Staff Attorney U.S. Coast Guard Offce of Maritime and International Law Legal Issues Spring2014_FINAL.indd 6 3/21/14 11:13 AM

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