Testing the Waters: Charting The Evolution of Claims to and From Low-Tide Elevations and Artificial Islands under the Law of the Sea

in Asia-Pacific Journal of Ocean Law and Policy

Low-tide elevations and artificial islands have received less attention than islands ‘proper’. The article examines the evolution of the law of the sea applicable to such features, providing a contextual background for controversial contemporary state practice relating to their treatment. It includes a detailed case study of how the policies of one major maritime power, the United Kingdom, were formulated, adapted and refined in the face of fast-changing international legal norms and pressing regional concerns. In particular Britain’s consideration of the entitlement of artificial islands in the Persian Gulf during the early 1950s and the question of whether low-tide elevations could be occupied a few years later in the Caribbean region are examined. Subsequent clarifications of relevant positions in international law concerning sovereignty claims to and maritime claims from low-tide elevations and artificial islands are discussed.

  • 4

     See Presidential Proclamation No 2667‘Policy of the United States With Respect to the Natural Resources of the Subsoil and Sea Bed of the Continental Shelf’ 28 September 1945 Federal Register 12303; 59 us Stat 884; 3 cfr 1943–1948 Comp at 67; xiii Bulletin Department of State No 327 30 September 1945 at 485. Copy included in Edward Duncan Brown The International Law of the Sea Vol ii (Aldershot 1994) at 113.

  • 20

    Minute by Broughtonsupra note 16.

  • 24

    Minute by Hopkinssupra note 21.

  • 66

     See Jayewardenesupra note 58 at 7.

  • 92

     See Charney and Alexandersupra note 8 at 1891-1900; see also Christopher M Carleton and Clive Schofield ‘Developments in the Technical Determination of Maritime Space: Charts Datums Baselines Maritime Zones and Limits’ (2001) 3:3 Maritime Briefing at 23–24.

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