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Historic Rights and Delimitation of Maritime Zones

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Chapter Summary

Both Art. 12 of the TSC(1958) and Art. 15 of the LOSC make reference to "historic title" as a reason for departing from the general rule for delimitation of a territorial sea between States, namely, failing agreement, a median line; but no mention is made of such a proviso in respects of either delimitation of overlapping EEZs or continental shelves. For example, in Tunisia/Libya, Tunisia pleaded it had historic rights from past sedentary fishing activities. The relevance of claimed historic rights to maritime delimitation of expanded maritime zones such as the continental shelf remains somewhat unclear in the light of the above caselaw, though State practice in recent times suggests that historic rights, even if considered irrelevant to delimitation issues, may still be independently taken into account by special agreement as to access. Undoubtedly, some past continental shelf delimitations have taken into account historic claims in negotiating a maritime boundary.

Keywords: continental shelves; EEZ; fishing activities; historic rights; LOSC; maritime boundary; maritime delimitation; maritime zones; territorial sea



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