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The international ocean regime at the new millennium: a survey of the contemporary legal order

Ocean & Coastal Management
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0964-5691(00)00029-6
  • Law
  • Political Science


Abstract This study surveys the international regime governing the use of ocean space by examining various agreements that have come to comprise it. While the regime for the oceans is commonly viewed within the context of a general, universal convention for the law of the sea, the contemporary scope of global oceans law extends far beyond that single instrument. Indeed, the law of the sea is broad, far-reaching and reflective of the increasingly complex, interdependent nature of contemporary international relations. In this regard, by end of the 20th century there has emerged a pronounced trend toward worldwide participation in and adherence to the multifaceted legal regime established to manage the oceans. This panorama of legal instruments focuses both on international instruments and regional accords. The study's premise is this: Since 1958 several multilateral agreements have been negotiated and implemented specifically to regulate various uses of ocean space. Viewed as an integrated whole, these agreements comprise at the beginning of the 21st century an intertwined, sophisticated international legal regime for managing ocean activities. The range of agreements discussed here, however, is neither exhaustive nor meant to suggest that sufficient law is available for regulating all activities affecting the oceans now or in the future. Rather, the survey furnishes a starting point for appreciating just how far the international community has come in establishing a legal regime for managing people and their technological activities that impact on ocean space.

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