Equidistance principle

Last updated

The equidistance principle or principle of equidistance, in maritime boundary claims, is a legal concept that a nation's maritime boundaries should conform to a median line that is equidistant from the shores of neighboring nations. The concept was developed in the process of settling disputes in which the borders of adjacent nations were located on a contiguous continental shelf:

Maritime boundary boundary between marine zones over which countries have rights, or between such zones and international waters

A maritime boundary is a conceptual division of the Earth's water surface areas using physiographic or geopolitical criteria. As such, it usually bounds areas of exclusive national rights over mineral and biological resources, encompassing maritime features, limits and zones. Generally, a maritime boundary is delineated at a particular distance from a jurisdiction's coastline. Although in some countries the term maritime boundary represents borders of a maritime nation that are recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime borders usually serve to identify the edge of international waters.

Equidistant point that is at the same distance to every object in a given set

A point is said to be equidistant from a set of objects if the distances between that point and each object in the set are equal.

Contents

An equidistance line is one for which every point on the line is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines being used. The equidistance principle is a methodology that has been endorsed by the UNCLOS treaty, but predates the treaty and has been used by the Supreme Court of the United States, states, and nations to equitably establish boundaries. [1]

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea International maritime law

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which took place between 1973 and 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties. UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to ratify the treaty. As of June 2016, 167 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention. It is uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.

The principle of equidistance represents one aspect of customary international law, but its importance is evaluated in light of other factors [2] such as history:

"Historic rights" or titles of some or another kind will acquire enhanced, rather than diminished, importance as a result of the narrowing of the 'physical' rather than the 'legal' sources of right. It is important to remember that, although historical claims were not successful in the Gulf of Maine case, the identification of a 'status quo' or 'modus vivendi' line in Tunisia–Libya was of decisive importance in confirming the equitableness of the first stage of delimitation. States will scrupulously avoid, more than ever, any appearance of acquiescence where acquiescence is not intended; prudent coordination can be expected between petroleum and mining ministries and the legal advisers of foreign ministries." Highet, Keith. (1989). "Whatever became of natural prolongation."

Status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social or political issues. In the sociological sense, it generally applies to maintain or change existing social structure and values. With regard to policy debate, the status quo refers to how conditions are at the time and how the affirmative team can solve these conditions for example "The countries are now trying to maintain a status quo with regards to their nuclear arsenal which will help them if the situation gets any worse."

Modus vivendi is a Latin phrase that means "mode of living" or “way of life”. It often is used to mean an arrangement or agreement that allows conflicting parties to coexist in peace. In science it is used to describe lifestyles.

History

The United States used equidistance in the 1805 Act of Congress that divided public lands by measurements as close as possible to "equidistant from those two corners which stand on the same line." One of the most notable historical events regarding equidistance is the Argument between Germany, Netherlands and Denmark. All three countries laid claim to a specific area within the ocean. Germany claimed that due to special circumstances they owned that land so the three countries fought through the united Nations. Eventually the ICJ stepped in and held a trial regarding the topic.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

International law also refers to equidistance. For example, Article 6 of the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf explains:

"Where the same continental shelf is adjacent to the territories of two or more States whose coasts are opposite each other, the boundary of the continental shelf appertaining to such States shall be determined by agreement between them. In the absence of agreement, and unless another boundary line is justified by special circumstances, the boundary is the median line, every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points of the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of each State is measured." [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Strait of Juan de Fuca strait

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about 154 kilometres (96 mi) long that is the Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The international boundary between Canada and the United States runs down the center of the Strait.

East China Sea A marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean between the south of Korea, the south of Kyushu, Japan, the Ryukyu islands and mainland China

The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. The East China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of roughly 1,249,000 square kilometres (482,000 sq mi). To the east lies the Japanese island of Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands, to the south, lies the South China Sea, and to the west by the Asian continent. The sea connects with the Sea of Japan through the Korea Strait and opens to the north into the Yellow Sea. The countries which border the sea include Japan, Taiwan and China.

Continental shelf A portion of a continent that is submerged under an area of relatively shallow water known as a shelf sea

A continental shelf is a portion of a continent that is submerged under an area of relatively shallow water known as a shelf sea. Much of the shelves were exposed during glacial periods and interglacial periods.

Territorial waters Coastal waters that are part of a nation-states sovereign territory

The term territorial waters is sometimes used informally to refer to any area of water over which a state has jurisdiction, including internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and potentially the continental shelf. In a narrower sense, the term is used as a synonym for the territorial sea.

Exclusive economic zone UN maritime boundary

An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from its coast. In colloquial usage, the term may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nmi limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a "sovereign right" which refers to the coastal state's rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.

The natural prolongation principle or principle of natural prolongation is a legal concept introduced in maritime claims submitted to the United Nations.

Territorial claims in the Arctic kk

The Arctic consists of land, internal waters, territorial seas, exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and high seas. All land, internal waters, territorial seas and EEZs in the Arctic are under the jurisdiction of one of the eight Arctic coastal states: Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. International law regulates this area as with other portions of the Earth.

Outer Continental Shelf maritime U.S. federal zone of jurisdiction beyond the jurisdiction of the individual states

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is a peculiarity of the political geography of the United States. The OCS is the part of the internationally recognized continental shelf of the United States which does not fall under the jurisdictions of the individual U.S. States.

Ghana–Ivory Coast relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Côte dIvoire

Ghana–Ivory Coast relations suffered from the same ups and downs that characterized Ghana-Togo relations. In early 1984, the PNDC government complained that Ivory Coast was allowing Ghanaian dissidents to use its territory as a base from which to carry out acts of sabotage against Ghana. Ghana also accused Ivory Coast of granting asylum to political agitators wanted for crimes in Ghana. Relations between Ghana and Ivory Coast improved significantly, however, after 1988. In 1989, after fifteen years of no progress, the Ghana-Ivory Coast border redemarcation commission finally agreed on the definition of the 640-kilometer border between the two countries. The PNDC thereafter worked to improve the transportation and communication links with both Ivory Coast and Togo, despite problems with both countries.

Indonesia–Malaysia border international border

The border between the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia and Malaysia consist of both a land border separating the two countries' territories on the island of Borneo as well as maritime boundaries along the length of the Straits of Malacca, in the South China Sea and in the Celebes Sea.

Malaysia and Vietnam are two Southeast Asian countries with maritime boundaries which meet in the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea. The two countries have overlapping claims over the continental shelf in the Gulf of Thailand. Both countries have, however, come to an agreement to jointly exploit the natural resources in the disputed area pending resolution of the dispute over sovereignty.

Australia–Indonesia border international maritime border

The Australia–Indonesia border is a maritime boundary running west from the two countries' tripoint maritime boundary with Papua New Guinea in the western entrance to the Torres Straits through the Arafura Sea and Timor Sea and terminating in the Indian Ocean. The boundary is, however, broken by the "Timor Gap", where Australian and East Timorese territorial waters meet and where the two countries have overlapping claims to the seabed.

Ko Kra archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand

Ko Kra is a group of small rocky islets in the southern area of the Gulf of Thailand. It is under the administration of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province of Thailand.

Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea case

The Case concerning maritime delimitation in the Black Sea [2009] ICJ 3 was a decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On September 16, 2004, Romania brought its case to the court after unsuccessful bilateral negotiations. On February 3, 2009, the court handed down its verdict, establishing a maritime boundary including the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones for Romania and Ukraine.

Daniel J. Dzurek is an American academic geographer, author and government official. He was formerly the Chief of the Spatial, Environmental and Boundary Analysis Division of the United States Department of State.

East China Sea EEZ disputes

There are disputes between China, Japan, and South Korea over the extent of their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the East China Sea.

Rockall Bank dispute

Several states have claimed interests over the sea bed adjoining Rockall. Denmark, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom have all made submissions to the commission set up under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Exclusive economic zone of North Korea

The exclusive economic zone of North Korea stretches 200 nautical miles from its basepoints in both the West Sea and the Sea of Japan. The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was declared in 1977 after North Korea had contested the validity of the Northern Limit Lines (NLL) set up after the Korean War as maritime borders. The EEZ has not been codified in law and North Korea has never specified its coordinates, making it difficult to determine its specific scope.

References

Sources