In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Landlocked Countries and the Law of the Sea

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographical Overview

International Law Landlocked Countries and the Law of the Sea
Kishor Uprety
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 January 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0201


The definition of landlocked countries (LLC) is purely geography-based. These are countries lacking any direct territorial access to the seas. Because of this geographical barrier, they are almost entirely dependent on neighboring transit countries for their external trade and suffer from high transaction costs, especially due to huge transportation expenses, inadequate infrastructure, and bottlenecks associated with importation and exportation requirements, as well as inefficient customs and transit procedures. This dependence complicates their integration into the global economy, impairing export competitiveness and the inflow of foreign investment. Furthermore, it has become apparent in the past few decades that the resources of the sea will play an ever-increasing role in the economic picture of the world. Where the sea was once looked upon as a source of animal and plant products only, it is now expected to cater to the needs of a growing population with a variety of mineral and hydrocarbon resources as well. Certainly, extracting specific minerals may not be currently feasible for many countries, but there seems to be no doubt that in the future, mineral harvests will be substantial. As such, unhindered access to and from the sea is vital for LLCs, not only for importing and exporting goods and maintaining international competitiveness, but also for participating in the resources of the seas. Almost all publications on public international law and development include a section on the introduction of LLCs and their plights, and confirm that a clear regime ensuring that access is critical.

Bibliographical Overview

Although literature revolving around the theme of LLCs abound, compiling a list of bibliographic materials, especially from an international legal perspective, is still a daunting task. This is because most scholarly writings focus essentially on geographical and economic and trade issues, so that purely legal information pertaining to the rights of LLCs, obligations of transit states, and the problems and prospects of LLCs have to be retrieved, on a piecemeal basis, from the various publications (treatises, monographs, articles, essays, papers, and book chapters) on public international law scattered all over (in different languages), and mostly as a subtheme of a broader topic. Very few deal with these specific problems in a single volume. Also, to better grasp the LLCs’ problems and prospects (theoretical, legal, and practical), it is important to consider a number of specific themes, including the law of the sea (broadly); the specific regime applicable to LLCs; the interactions of trade and transit facilitations measures; the techniques to cooperate, collaborate, and negotiate; and a few doctrines and principles that have been crucial in the evolution of the regime. This bibliography reflects, to a large extent, that consideration. However, before continuing further, it is important to indicate the availability of Glassner 2001, which is, no doubt, the most comprehensive bibliography on the subject of the economic development and other problems of LLCs.

  • Glassner, Martin Ira, ed. Bibliography on Land-Locked States, Economic Development and International Law. 5th ed. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.

    Includes several entries that also treat legal problems having to do with the rights of passage over the territory of coastal transit states and the access of LLCs to marine resources.

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