International Law of the Sea - LW883

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 20 (10) PROF E Franckx







The legal regime applicable to two-thirds of our planet forms the subject matter of this course. Starting point is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which entered into force in 1994, as well as its implementing agreements of 1994 and 1995. The objective of this course is to familiarize the student with this conventional framework and the delicate interaction it has with the actual practice of states.
Starting from the principle of the freedom of the high seas, this course will address the different maritime zones existing today, which all possess a distinct legal regime: the internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, the Area, and the high seas. Since all these maritime zones, in one way or another, fall back on the baseline for their measurement and often need to be delimited in case of adjacent or opposite states, introductory chapters on both issues are provided. Special attention is finally also devoted to marine pollution, the living resources of the high seas, two topical issues in the contemporary law of the sea, as well as the articles of the above mentioned convention of 1982 on the settlement of disputes, because this was the first multilateral agreement which incorporated such a detailed procedure for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

It is anticipated that the following specific topics will be addressed:
1. Freedom of the High Seas
2. Jurisdiction of the Flag State
3. Baselines
4. Boundaries of Maritime Jurisdiction Between Adjacent and Opposite States
5. Internal Waters and Ports
6. Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Straits, and Archipelagic Waters
7. Continental Shelf
8. Exclusive Economic Zone
9. Marine Pollution
10. Living Resources of the High Seas
11. Settlement of Disputes


This module appears in:


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed (100%) by an essay of 4-5000 words on a subject to be chosen in consultation with the course convenor. This method is employed consistently in postgraduate law modules as it best reflects the emphasis on independent research and writing in LLM programs.

Indicative reading

Louis Sohn et al, The Law of the Sea in a Nutshell (West, 2nd ed., 2010).
Yoshifumi Tanaka, The International Law of the Sea (Cambridge UP, 2012)
Donald Rothwell and Tim Stephens, The International Law of the Sea (Hart 2010)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will;
- Be aware of the significance of International Law in regulating the use of marine resources and the settlement of disputes over these resources.
- Be familiar with the concepts, principles and rules of the International Law of the Sea
- Be familiar with current theoretical and doctrinal debates within the International Law of the Sea.
- Be able to apply international legal methods to international legal problems
- Be familiar with the operations of the institutions of International Law relevant to the seas.

The module will contribute to the acquisition of the following generic learning outcomes:
- Processing information: Students will acquire the ability to organise, source and digest large amounts of material from various sources
- Analytical thought and writing: Students will acquire the ability to reflect upon complex ideas and arguments; digest, analyse and test scholarly views; relate scholarly ideas and arguments to issues and circumstances in the contemporary global political economy; summarise and analyse scholarly arguments in writing
- Advocacy and defence: Students will acquire the ability to formulate an opinion in response to an issue or question, construct coherent and persuasive arguments to advocate their view and defend that view against criticism
- Communication and presentation skills: Students will acquire the ability to prepare oral and written presentations of information and viewpoints to peers; respond to comment and criticism from peers; lead and manage group discussion
- Problem-solving: Students will acquire the ability to respond at short notice to questions and challenges making use of knowledge, analytical tools and perspectives acquired in the module

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