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Public International Law
Law of the Sea refers to the body of public international law that regulates the rights and obligations of States in the different maritime spaces. It defines each maritime space, establishes its maximum limits and the rights and obligations of the coastal States and third States, and establishes rules or criteria for the delimitation of these spaces. It is related to, but distinct from, admiralty law, which is a branch of domestic law that regulates the relations between private individuals and corporations derived from carrying out maritime activities (such as maritime transport, maritime insurance, the responsibilities of shipowners and other persons, and contracts for the transportation of goods).
The purpose of the Law of the Sea is to regulate the interaction between States in relation to the different maritime areas, as well as determining the rights and duties of both the coastal and third States, thereby ensuring the orderly flow of maritime traffic and promoting regular and predictable international relations with respect to maritime matters.
While much of the Law of the Sea is drawn from customary international law and specific treaties, the bulk of the law is derived from the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Certain provisions of UNCLOS constitute a generally accepted codification of customary international law that applies to maritime matters.
While sometimes incorrectly regarded as a lawless environment, international waters or high seas are governed by the Law of the Sea. This includes customary international law and international treaties, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Together, these sources form a rich and robust body of law that governs all maritime activity in international waters or high seas.
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Charles L. O. Buderi
George Kahale III
Luciana Teresa Ricart
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