The "new" law of the sea and its sociopolitical understructure

Christos L. Rozakis
1977 Greek Review of Social Research  
the customary rules were limited ratione materiae and ratione loci to fields concerning rights of coastal States in their neigh bouring seas and, basically, jurisdiction upon ships sailing in these adjacent areas. See, Fulton. T. W., The Sovereignty of the Seas (London, 1911). | e-Publisher: EKT | Downloaded at 20/07/2018 05:55:37 | the «new» Law of the Sea and its sociopolitical understructure competition among States for the acquisition of access to the newly
more » ... o the newly discovered lands. By pro viding the only efficient means of communication with those remote areas, the sea became a field of dispute and controversy, since domination upon it secured the monopolization of the vast riches of the new lands. The fight for supremacy among the main powers at the time (Britain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain) did not result in favouring any of them in particular since no one among them surpassed the others in strength so considerably as to be able to secure the exclusive use of the seas for her own profit. Consequently, the great maritime States were forced to seek a peaceful co-existence in the high seas1 and, there fore, to work out some rules of behaviour that might ensure for all of them the unobstructed communication in the seas. Under those circumstances, the rules of the Law of the Sea began to be shaped on the basis of one main principle, namely the freedom of the (high) seas. According to that principle, except for one narrow strip of water which fell under the sovereignty of the coastal States (territorial sea), the sea was free to all States and for all possible uses. The principle of the freedom of the seas, as formed by its initial supporters, aimed at free navigation which was then the main concern.2 However, the evolution of things in the follow ing centuries and especially within the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, increased the usefulness of the sea and led to the enlargement of the content and of the constituent elements of the principle of the freedom of the seas. The pos sibility of exploitation of marine resources-of the living organisms which can be found within the deep waters of the high seas--increased as tech nology progressed, thus leading to the adoption of the freedom of fishing as a constituent element of the freedom of the seas. Still later, to these two initial principles came to be added, again as a re sult of technological progress, other principles such as the freedom of overflying the high seas, the freedom of installation of submarine cables and pipelines, the freedom of scientific research, of exploitation of the sea-bed,3 of waste discharge,4 etc. 31 | e-Publisher: EKT | Downloaded at 20/07/2018 05:55:37 |
doi:10.12681/grsr.333 fatcat:jiksiuk3jjhjtppgtdcj37cxzy