- LAST REVIEWED: 12 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0119
- LAST REVIEWED: 12 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0119
Maritime delimitation is one of the most discussed issues in international law, distinguished by unusual technical complexity and political relevance. A combination of legal, political, technical, historical, environmental, and economic elements has turned this topic into one of the most studied not only by jurists, but hydrographers, geographers, cartographers, and other experts. At the same time, in a world where the approximately 60 percent of maritime boundaries are still to be defined, maritime delimitation and its law are undergoing a process of progressive definition in several ways, mainly through the activity of international courts and tribunals. In fact since 1940, more than twenty disputes concerning international maritime boundaries have been submitted to international judiciary bodies, and in the particular case of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) maritime delimitation constitutes the principal object of the demands registered. Traditionally, states have been concerned about land boundaries; their interest in maritime boundaries came relatively late when, at the beginning of the 20th century, they discovered the economic potential of the sea in terms of living marine resources and, in particular, hydrocarbons. After that coastal states tended to increasingly exert their sovereignty over seas and oceans, starting an irreversible trend of creating more and larger maritime zones under their sovereign rights or functional competence to administer the territory. In this context, the traditional political nature of maritime boundaries is being supplemented by economic and even by environmental considerations as part of the evolution of the phenomenon of multiplication of maritime boundaries. From a legal point of view, an international maritime boundary is established by agreement between the parties. In the absence of such an agreement, the parties formerly submitted the dispute to international adjudication, mainly to the ICJ, but also to arbitral tribunals or even to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Due to this fact and to the indeterminate nature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provisions on maritime delimitation, international jurisprudence acquires an enormous value, which is highlighted by the unanimous consent doctrine.
As explained in the Introduction, maritime delimitation is one of the most complex fields of international law, so the general doctrine referred to under this topic will be marked by elements of complexity from its historical evolution to the results of the maritime delimitation process. The most ambitious work on the topic is Charney, et al. 1993–2011, which has become the main reference work on the subject. A global view of other bibliographic references that reveals the multidimensional and multidisciplinary nature of the doctrine of maritime delimitation is contained in McDorman, et al. 1983 For a historical perspective, the work of Rhee 1982 is an excellent reference, in combination with that of Johnston 1988, which also presents a deep conceptual and technical analysis in a theoretical way somehow similar to the rationalistic work of Marques Antunes 2003. Maritime delimitation is, overall, a complex process integrated by legal and technical elements, where jurists don’t have an exclusive role, as Kapoor and Kerr 1986 shows. However, maritime delimitation has a specific juridical relevance, as long as that complex process combines legal and technical features both in the formation of international norms and their codification and in the activity of international adjudication in the determination of maritime boundaries, as described in Lucchini and Voelckel 1996 and Lagoni and Vignes 2006.
Charney, Jonathan I., et al. International Maritime Boundaries. 6 vols. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1993–2011.
This is probably the most complete multivolume work on maritime delimitation, an ambitious collection that contains essays on core issues dealing with maritime delimitation (Volumes 1, 5, and 6) and overall, within its six volumes and more than 4600 pages, includes separate systematic studies of every maritime boundary agreement.
Johnston, D. M. The Theory and History of Ocean Boundary-Making. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 1988.
One of the leading general systematic works of maritime delimitation, examining concepts, factors, processes, results, and techniques, as well as the historical evolution of the field. In its conclusion the author elaborates his own functionalist and interdisciplinary theory on the issue.
Kapoor, D. C., and Adam J. Kerr. A Guide to Maritime Boundary Delimitation. Toronto: Carswell, 1986.
This work differs from others referenced in this article in that its authors and principal audience are hydrographers, so it offers special technical insights—hydrographic, cartographic, and geographic—very relevant in a field mainly developed by jurists, but which inevitably combines science and law.
Lagoni, Rainer, and Daniel Vignes, eds. Maritime Delimitation. Publications on Ocean Development 53. Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2006.
This edited volume is authored by twelve experts in the law of the sea, from judges of the ITLOS to scholars and attorneys, tackling, from general and particular perspectives, some of the core judicial, conventional, and practical issues of maritime delimitation.
Lucchini, Laurent, and Michel Voelckel. Délimitation, navigation et peche. Vol. 1, Délimitation. Droit de la mer 2. Paris: Pedone, 1996.
Through a very pedagogical structure, the authors construct the book in four large chapters dedicated to the main features of maritime delimitation, the general conventional norms, the delimitation agreements, and the judicial contribution to maritime delimitation.
Marques Antunes, Nuno. Towards the Conceptualisation of Maritime Delimitation: Legal and Technical Aspects of a Political Process. Publications on Ocean Development 42. Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2003.
Focusing on judicial and state practice, this Portuguese author starts from the analysis of maritime delimitation within the framework of codification of the law of the sea, and then examines in depth conceptual, methodological, technical, and legal issues, even proposing a formula of rationalization.
McDorman, T. L., K. P. Beauchamp, and D. M. Johnston. Maritime Boundary Delimitation: An Annotated Bibliography. Lexington, MA: Lexington, 1983.
This book covers the most relevant literature on maritime delimitation before 1983, including descriptive annotations to each referenced work, as well as an appendix containing all bilateral agreements located by the authors.
Rhee, Sang-Myon. “Sea Boundary Delimitation between States Before World War II.” American Journal of International Law 76.3 (1982): 555–558.
This is one of the few works exclusively dedicated to maritime delimitation in a historical framework. Most of the essays use as a point of departure President Harry Truman’s proclamation and the state of play of the subject in the 1950s, but this Korean professor decided to study the development of principles of maritime delimitation after the Treaty of Westphalia and the inception of the continental shelf doctrine in 1945.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Af...
- Agreements, Bilateral and Regional Trade
- Agreements, Multilateral Environmental
- Arctic Region
- Armed Opposition Groups
- Aut Dedere Aut Judicare
- Bandung Conference, The
- Children's Rights
- Civil Service, International
- Collective Security
- Command Responsibility
- Common Heritage of Mankind
- Complementarity Principle
- Conspiracy/Joint Criminal Enterprise
- Constitutional Law, International
- Consular Relations
- Contemporary Catholic Approaches
- Continental Shelf, Idea and Limits of the
- Cooperation in Criminal Matters, Cross-Border
- Courts, International
- Crimes against Humanity
- Criminal Law, International
- Cultural Rights
- Cyber Warfare
- Debt, Sovereign
- Development Law, International
- Disputes, Peaceful Settlement of
- Drugs, International Regulation, and Criminal Liability
- Early 19th Century, 1789-1870
- Economic Law, International
- Enforcement of Human Rights
- Environmental Compliance Mechanisms
- Environmental Institutions, International
- Environmental Law, International
- European Arrest Warrant
- Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties
- Feminist Approaches to International Law
- Financial Law, International
- Foreign Investment
- Freedom of Expression
- French Revolution
- General Customary Law
- General Principles of Law
- Grotius, Hugo
- Habeas Corpus
- History of International Law, 1550–1700
- Hostilities, Direct Participation in
- Human Rights
- Human Rights and Regional Protection, Relativism and Unive...
- Human Rights, European Court of
- Human Rights, Foundations of
- Human Trafficking
- Hybrid International Criminal Tribunals
- Immunity, Sovereign
- Indigenous Peoples
- Institutional Law
- International and Non-International Armed Conflict, Detent...
- International Court of Justice
- International Criminal Court, The
- International Criminal Law, Complicity in
- International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ...
- International Humanitarian Law
- International Humanitarian Law, Targeting in
- International Investment Agreements, Fair and Equitable Tr...
- International Investment Arbitration
- International Investment Law, Expropriation in
- International Law, Aggression in
- International Law, Amnesty and
- International Law, Anthropology and
- International Law, Climate Change and
- International Law, Dispute Settlement in
- International Law, Espionage in
- International Law, Hegemony in
- International Law, Marxist Approaches to
- International Law, Military Intervention in
- International Law, Monism and Dualism in
- International Law, Peacekeeping in
- International Law, Proportionality in
- International Law, Reasonableness in
- International Law, Recognition in
- International Law, Self-Determination in
- International Law, State Responsibility in
- International Law, State Succession in
- International Law, the State in
- International Law, the Turn to History in
- International Law, Trade and Development in
- International Law, Unequal Treaties in
- International Law, Use of Force in
- International Trade and Human Rights
- Intervention, Humanitarian
- Investment Protection Treaties
- Islamic International Law
- Islamic Law and Human Rights
- Jurisprudence (Judicial Law-Making)
- Jus Cogens
- Law of the Sea
- Law of Treaties, The
- League of Nations, The
- Lebanon, Special Tribunal for
- Liability for International Environmental Harm
- Maritime Delimitation
- Martens Clause
- Medieval International Law
- Mens Rea, International Crimes
- Middle East Boundaries and State Formation
- Military Necessity
- Military Occupation
- Modes of Participation
- Most-Favored-Nation Clauses
- Multinational Corporations in International Law
- Nationality and Statelessness
- Natural Law
- New Approaches to International Law
- Non liquet
- Nonstate Actors
- Nuclear Proliferation
- Nuremberg Trials
- Organizations, International
- Palestine (and the Israel Question)
- Peace Treaties
- Political Science, International Law and
- Protection, Diplomatic
- Public Interest, Human Rights, and Foreign Investment
- Rational Choice Theory
- Recognition of Foreign Penal Judgments
- Rendition, Extraterritorial Abduction, and Extraordinary R...
- Russian Approaches to International Law
- Sanctions, International
- Soft Law
- Space Law
- Spanish School of International Law (c. 16th and 17th Cent...
- Sports Law, International
- State of Necessity
- Superior Orders
- Teaching International Law
- Territorial Title
- Theory, Critical International Legal
- Transnational Corruption
- Treaty Interpretation
- Ukrainian Approaches
- Underwater Cultural Heritage
- Unilateral Acts
- United Nations and its Principal Organs, The
- Universal Jurisdiction
- Uti Possidetis Iuris
- Vatican and the Holy See
- Victims’ Rights, International Criminal Law, and Proceedin...
- Watercourses, International
- Western Sahara