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Chapter 3. Overview of the International Legal Regime Governing Submarine Cables

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Chapter Summary

From 1863 to 1913, the protection of submarine cables appeared on the agenda of seven international conferences. While the 1884 Cable Convention was a stand-alone convention dealing solely with submarine cables, the 1958 Geneva Conventions on the High Seas and the Continental Shelf ("1958 Geneva Conventions") and UNCLOS were broad-ranging instruments covering a wide range of law of the sea issues including the use of submarine cables. The 1884 Cable Convention was the first international treaty governing submarine telegraph cables. From 1882, a series of diplomatic conferences were held with the purpose of establishing an international treaty to protect and foster the growth of the new technology of submarine cables. The vast expansion of the submarine cables network over greater areas of the seabed was coupled with an increasing use of the oceans for other purposes and ever-expanding claims by coastal States to ocean space.

Keywords: 1884 Cable Convention; 1958 Geneva Conventions; coastal States; submarine cables; UNCLOS

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