Part A Commentary on the Modern International Law of Maritime Boundary Delimitation, 2 Methodology
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — Boundaries
This chapter presents some essential preliminaries in the delimitation process—the fundamental question being whether there is a delimitation in force. In most situations, the existence of a delimitation agreement between two States will be clear, but the history of maritime boundary delimitation disputes is replete with situations where it has not been. An important principle of international law in the context of the interpretation of historic delimitation treaties is that of intertemporal law, pursuant to which the law to be applied to a given situation must be the law in force at the time when it arose. Coastlines are the foundation for maritime claims. Delimitation is an exercise of resolving competing claims over maritime areas over which two States have overlapping legal title. Such legal title over maritime space follows from the coastal State’s sovereignty over land territory and as a result of that territory’s coastal projection. The process of delimitation inevitably leads to one or, quite often, both States being deprived of areas over which they would otherwise have legal title. The ‘third-stage approach’ to methodology in maritime delimitations is also examined. The chapter ends with some special considerations in the delimitation of specific maritime zones.