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Douglas R. Burnett and Lionel Carter

If one uses Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Netflix, or any application of the internet internationally, a submarine cable is involved. Fibre optic cables bind the world together from governments, banks, shipping, airlines and other major logistic industries to homes and personal electronic devices. Server farms maintained by major telecom and content companies allow vast amounts of data to be stored and retrieved from the cloud. Not often appreciated is the fact that these server locations worldwide are connected by submarine fibre optic cables. In this sense, the cloud is beneath the sea. While submarine communication cables have been in steady use since 1850, their preeminent place in the modern world has never been as dominant and personal as now. Since 1884, this critical international infrastructure has rested upon international treaties, now reflected in universally accepted provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (unclos) that provides for freedoms to lay and maintain international submarine cables. Recently, calls have mounted in the context of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (bbnj) for centralized control of submarine cables and for express or de facto diminishment of the freedoms related to them that have served the world’s peoples for so long. This monograph examines the time proven importance of the existing international treaties, the largely peer review science on the environmental interaction of submarine cables with high seas environments, and the current submarine cable issues in the context of the bbnj debates.

Series:

Douglas R. Burnett and Lionel Carter

If one uses Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Netflix, or any application of the internet internationally, a submarine cable is involved. Fibre optic cables bind the world together and computer server farms, maintained by major telecom and content companies, allow vast amounts of data to be stored and retrieved from the cloud. Not often appreciated is the fact that these server locations worldwide are connected by submarine fibre optic cables. In this sense, the cloud is beneath the sea. While submarine communication cables have been in steady use since 1850, their preeminent place in the modern world has never been as dominant and personal as now. Recently, calls have mounted in the context of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) for centralized control of submarine cables and for express or de facto diminishment of the freedoms related to them via the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, that have served the world’s peoples for so long. In International Submarine Cables and Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, Douglas R. Burnett and Lionel Carter examine the time proven importance of the existing international treaties, the largely peer-reviewed science on the environmental interaction of submarine cables with high seas environments, and the current submarine cable issues in the context of the BBNJ debates.

Submarine Cables

The Handbook of Law and Policy

Edited by Douglas R. Burnett, Robert Beckman and Tara M. Davenport

Submarine fiber optic cables are critical communications infrastructure for States around the world. They are laid on the seabed, are often no bigger than a garden hose, and transmit immense amounts of data across oceans. These cables are the backbone of the internet and phone services and underpin core State interests, such as the finance sector, shipping, commerce and banking industries. Without the capacity to transmit and receive data via submarine cables, the economic security of States would be severely compromised. Despite the fact that 95 per cent of all data and telecommunications between States are transmitted via submarine cables, there is little understanding of how these cables operate. As a result some States have developed policies and laws that undermine the integrity of international telecommunications systems. Submarine Cables: The Handbook of Law and Policy provides a one-stop-shop of essential information relating to the international governance of submarine cables. The Handbook is a unique collaboration between international lawyers and experts from the submarine cable industry. It provides a practical insight into the law and policy issues that affect the protection of submarine cables, as well as the laying, maintenance and operation of such cables. In addition, the law and policy issues in relation to other special purpose cables, such as power cables, marine scientific research cables, military cables, and offshore energy cables, are also addressed.

Edited by Douglas R. Burnett, Robert C. Beckman and Tara M. Davenport