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Authors: Gardezi, Mahmood Akhter Hussain
Keywords: Social sciences
Secondary education
Higher education
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: The baselines being linchpin of various maritime zones (internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf) are crucial in shaping maritime claims. Different types of baselines, depending on coastal configurations of states, are starting point for measuring maritime zones as well as controversies between the states. Straight baseline system legitimized during 1951 Anglo-Norwegian Fisheries case between Norway and UK was only meant for irregular coastal configurations. The 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone (hereafter TSC) embodied the judgment into a codified article. TSC provision on straight baselines transformed almost verbatim into United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, 1982 (hereafter UNCLOS). Vague parameters of straight baselines, devoid of precision, leave much room for liberal interpretations and flexible application. Vagueness of straight baseline terms is the main cause for excessive lines having enormous impacts on various sea regimes, brewing conflicts on international maritime arena. The means of interpretation for treaty terms like ordinary meaning; object and purpose, preparatory works and state practice are unhelpful due to compromising nature of UNCLOS and scarcity of its official record. Excessive baseline claims kindle varying degree of conflicts on regimes of sea. study addresses; whether vagueness leads to excessive straight baseline claims. The Do excessive straight baselines affect the regimes of various maritime zones? How can vagueness and inadequacies prevailing in straight baselines provision be addressed in interpretation and application? The great impact of unfounded straight baselines on EEZ and Continental shelf because of interfacing of these zones with international community rights has been investigated. Different factors behind employing excessive straight baselines by the coastal states leading to controversies and instability in the oceans have been discussed. Vagueness undoubtedly exists in terms and conditions on straight baselines with divergent state practice. The study concludes that terms and phrases in Article 7 of UNCLOS are vague, unclear, non- objective and imprecise. To avoid isolated individual or regional state practices, an international pragmatic approach is needed for uniformity of straight baseline principles. A structured oceanic legal order on the pattern of Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS) with a watchdog capacity is need of day to monitor the coastal state claims based on straight baselines. UN Division of the Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea are considered most apposite forum to patron such initiative.
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