Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Law

Abstract

In the decades following adoption of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention coastal States have dramatically expanded the spatial extent of their respective claims to maritime zones of national jurisdiction. At present many of the world’s oceans and seas feature, and are characterised by, extensive maritime spaces where the zones of national jurisdiction claimed by two or more neighbouring coastal States have not been delimited by an international maritime boundary and thus overlap with one another. These spaces – hereinafter referred to as overlapping claims areas (OCAs) – are likely to be an enduring feature of the world’s political geography given that maritime boundary delimitation is often a lengthy or intractable process. Maritime boundary negotiations between several coastal States are impeded by long-standing and polarised negotiating positions, heightened diplomatic tensions, and/or daunting geographical and technical complexities. In several cases maritime boundary negotiations are further complicated by disputed claims to territorial sovereignty over islands and other littoral features.

As an alternative to maritime boundary delimitation, or during the period where delimitation negotiations are ongoing, several coastal States that assert overlapping claims have agreed to establish frameworks to manage the relevant OCA on a provisional and joint basis. Provisional joint management is increasingly viewed by government officials and other policymakers as a useful tool to minimise diplomatic tensions associated with OCAs, and enable the effective management of such spaces and the resources contained therein. In recent years several senior government officials, commentators and reports have highlighted a need for further consideration of options for provisional joint management of OCAs and their implementation in particular regional contexts.

The present thesis responds to this need by critically examining provisions of international law concerning the provisional joint management of OCAs, in addition to the design features of provisional joint management frameworks that have been established to date. Drawing on the results of the examination, the thesis then proposes legal and policy options for the provisional joint management of OCAs. The proposed options are intended to inform the future negotiation of provisional joint management frameworks. The proposed options are also intended to facilitate the functionally comprehensive management of OCAs by the relevant claimant coastal States – in other words, they are intended to enable claimant coastal States to collectively implement, within the relevant OCA, all functional components of coastal State jurisdiction recognised in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

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