The High Seas Regime. A Model of Self Regulation?
The high seas as an international law concept is generally considered to have originated in the doctrine of the freedom of the seas advocated by the seventeenth century Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius in his treatise Mare Liberum, published in 1609.1 Grotius drew a distinction between the “inner sea” which was surrounded on all sides by the land and thus susceptible to human occupation and the “outer sea, the ocean” which he described as “immense . . . infinite, bounded only by the heavens” which could neither be “seized or inclosed.”2 His fundamental premise that the sea may not be subjected to the sovereignty of individual States survived in Article 89 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC). Mare Liberum also introduced the principles of freedom of navigation and fishing which remain an integral part of the present high seas regime codified in Part VII of the LOSC.