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"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
                                           — US Senator Susan Collins, 2012 Jun 21



 

United Nations Convention
on the
Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS)

| Links to UN Webpages | Countries Affected by UNCLOS | Innocent Passage |


Links to UN Webpages

United Nations bannerpage > United Nations English homepage > International Law > Law of the Sea > United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

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Countries Affected by UNCLOS

Ratifications/Accessions/Successions (Countries that have ratified UNCLOS)

UNCLOS, PART I (link to UN website)

Article 1, 2., (1) — Meaning of “States Parties”

UNCLOS makes it clear what countries are affected by the treaty:

PART I, Article 1, 2. (1) "States Parties" means States which have consented to be bound by this Convention and for which this Convention is in force.

Since the U.S. hasn't "consented to be bound by" (Congress hasn't ratified) UNCLOS, then the Convention is not in force for the U.S.; the U.S. has no rights or responsibilities under UNCLOS.

Local LNG speculators and the U.S. Department of State can wish all they want for LNG ships to have UNCLOS right of innocent passage into Passamaquoddy Bay, but their wish is hollow — the treaty clearly states that the U.S. doesn't have that right.

US Coast Guard lawyer agrees local LNG projects have no UNCLOS innocent passage:

"Without being a party to the Law of the Sea Convention, we cannot avail ourselves of the dispute-resolution provisions," [said US Coast Guard Capt. Charles Michel, Chief, Office of Maritime and International Law].
— "U.S. Coast Guard Officer Claims Canadian PM Disregarded President Bush's Request for LNG Tanker Passage" LNG Law Blog, 2007 Dec 12

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Innocent Passage

UNCLOS, PART II, Section 3, Subsection A (link to UN website)

Article 19 — Meaning of Innocent Passage

  1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.
  2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:
    1. any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
    2. any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;
    3. any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;
    4. any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;
    5. the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;
    6. the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;
    7. the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;
    8. any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;
    9. any fishing activities;
    10. the carrying out of research or survey activities;
    11. any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;
    12. any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

Webmaster's Comments: UNCLOS does not specify that the above list is all-inclusive; therefore, other conditions — such as transits of hazardous materials that threaten the health and safety of the coastal state — might also be considered as prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security of the coastal state. As far as is currently known, this issue has not been determined by the UN.

Also, traditional maritime law has an innocent passage concept, but doesn't define it — it is left to the coastal state to define "innocent passage." Traditional maritime law, not UNCLOS, applies to the proposed LNG transits into Passamaquoddy Bay (as of 2008 Aug 25).

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