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The Continental Shelf Regime in the Law of the Sea Convention: A Reflection on the First Thirty Years

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AbstractThe international legal regime of the continental shelf was largely adopted in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea without change from that in the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. What was added in the 1982 Convention was that all States have a legal shelf out to 200 nautical miles (nm) and that beyond 200 nm there is a formula and process for States to establish their outer limit of the shelf. Amongst the several developments that have taken place in the last 30 years respecting the continental shelf regime noted in this article, the most surprising is the number of States that have indicated that they have an area of shelf beyond 200 nm, which far exceeds the number of States seen in 1982 as having such a possibility.

Affiliations: 1: University of Victoria British Columbia Canada, URL:


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