International Law of the Sea

The oceans are critical to State interests and human prosperity, being a highway for commerce, a shared resource and a conduit for threats to security. They cover 70% of the earth’s surface, account for 90% of the world’s international trade and provide 40% of the protein consumed in the developing world.

In this context, the law of the sea is assuming a new prominence in international affairs, from questions of environmental protection and offshore resource exploitation, to legal contests over polar resources and sea lanes rendered more accessible by global warming, and even regarding the risk of maritime terrorism and smuggling weapons of mass destruction. This course will approach the law of the sea in the context of these new developments and concerns. It provides a comprehensive grounding in the subject, combining the study of maritime zones (such as the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and High Seas), with the study of the main bodies of law regulating users of the seas (such as navigation, fishing, pollution and military activities). It also aims to enhance general international law knowledge as the teaching relates the problems of the law of the sea to other relevant areas of general international law, including sources, the law of treaties, and principles of state responsibility.

The teaching consists of weekly two hour seminars in the Michaelmas and Hilary terms. In Trinity term, there is one two-hour revision seminar, one three-hour mock examination class, and one two-hour examination feedback class.

Learning outcomes: to understand the core principles, law, and institutions of the international law of the sea and to place this legal framework in its policy context; to be able to approach critically and analytically the rules, policies, and principles of this area of international law; and to be able to identify and resolve legal problems involving the public international law of the sea.