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The legal regime of the continental shelf and associated areas

Kozak, H. B. (1969) The legal regime of the continental shelf and associated areas. Unspecified thesis, Durham University.



It is probable that no new doctrine of international law has received universal recognition so rapidly as has that of the Continental Shelf. Its being an extension of the outer limit of coastal state sovereignty endeared it to nationalistic pride, a matter evidenced by the time spent in discussing the nature of the rights, which ended by according the coastal state sovereign rights over its natural resources. These were further defined as being exclusive and unshared rights. As in the case of the territorial sea, the area of control was difficult to define. The present seaward limit of national sovereignty is defined at the edge of the Continental Shelf at 200 metres isobath or the depth to which the submarine areas can be exploited. Exploitability appears to be a poor criterion in these days of rapidly expanding marine technology. All reasonable geological boundaries of the sea floor (shore line, shelf edge, base of Continental Slope, toe of continental rise, axes of trenches, deepest parts of abyssal plains, and the mid ocean rift) are described according to their origin and value as seaward limits of national sovereignty for exploitation purposes. All contain uncertainties or deficiencies stemming from present inadequate knowledge of bathymetry, ambiguity of definition, or unreasonable relationship to areas of possible mineral resources. Accordingly a more precise definition of seaward boundaries for the areas under present national jurisdiction is most desirable, with some form of international regime applied to the deeper areas of ocean floor. For the purposes of this study the subject is divided into three main parts, namely:-(1) The theory of the Continental Shelf in international law.(2) The legal regime of the Continental Shelf, and(3) The legal regime of the deep-sea floor. Before considering the legal norms of the new doctrine, a geological and geographical study of the nature, origin and formation of the Shelf is given in Section One of Part One. This study is relevant to the legal aspects of the Shelf area in that it provides full data about the geophysical structure of the Shelf and associated areas. It also helps to determine how far jurists were willing to establish the legal framework of the Shelf in accordance with its geographical limits. A comparison between the geophysical and legal definitions of the Shelf is a good evidence of the limited extent to which the two concepts are uniform. In Part Two the question of the legal regime of the Shelf is examined from the point of view of the legal basis of claims to the Shelf area which, until recently, was regarded, like the waters above it, res communis. The nature of the rights asserted is also explored under both the unilateral claims of coastal states and the provision of the Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. The third item, which is examined under this heading, is the problem of delimitation. Here, a special consideration is given to the decision of the ICJ in the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases, Part Three deals with proposals de lege ferenda on the question of the legal regime of the deep-sea floor. The limited scope of this thesis did not allow more than recording the results achieved by the U,N, General Assembly and other international and national bodies. I have attempted in this study to present, in an inductive fashion, the work of all those who contributed to the establishment of the doctrine of the Continental Shelf. My task did not go further than displaying the various opinions on the subject, adding my own views where necessary. I am relieved to find that Dr. Mouton, in the introduction to his great work "The Continental Shelf," “states,"..., one can not solve a new problem alone. One has to put the opinions next to each other in their original wording, in order to "be able to attain a certain amount of progression in thought and give the reader the chance, without forcing him to go through all the sources, to compare the arguments and judge whether he can or can not agree with the conclusions we have reached, "Finally, as I read and re-read the manuscript and corrected the proofs, the words of a twelfth century Syrian judge repeatedly came to my mind: "Never have I met an author who is not ready to proclaim on the morrow of finishing his book, 'O, had I expressed this differently, how much better would it have been! Had such a statement been added, how much more correct, it would have been! Had this been moved forward, it would have read better and had that been omitted, it would have certainly been preferable,' In such experience there is indeed a great lesson; it provides full evidence that defect characterizes all works of man,'"

Item Type:Thesis (Unspecified)
Thesis Date:1969
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:07

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