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Not Quite a Sure Thing: The Maritime Areas of Rocks and Low-Tide Elevations Under the UN Law of the Sea Convention

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

This article deals with the entitlements to maritime areas of what the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea calls "rocks" and the features known as "low-tide elevations". The former are islands that "cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own". Low-tide elevations are features that would be islands were they not submerged at low tide. Islands other than rocks generate the five maritime areas for which the Convention provides, i.e. internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The two features dealt with, which generate no maritime areas other than the first three, do so either on their own or as supports for straight baselines. The article studies these entitlements, together with the problems they raise, in either mode and in the contexts of both the normal coastal state and the archipelagic state.


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