The Regime of the Area: Delineating the Scope of Application of the Common Heritage Principle and Freedom of the High Seas

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
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  • 1 1Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, Utrecht University


Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes a regime for the Area. The regime of the high seas set out in Part VII of the Convention is also applicable to the Area. Neither Part VII nor Part XI of the Convention exhaustively de fines which ocean uses fall within their scope of application. This article analyzes the relevant provisions of the Convention and comments on recent developments that shed further light on the regime of Part XI in relation to the regime of Part VII. It concludes that Part XI's common heritage principle is relevant for all uses of the Area that concern the exploration and exploitation of the Area, including its living resources. Recent developments reveal continued differences of views on the scope of application and implications of the regime set out in Part XI. The provisions of the Convention on marine scientific research and environmental protection would seem to offer sufficient flexibility to frame more detailed rules that do not require the prior resolution of those differences.

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