HomeWorldAmericasFreedom of the Seas: Fundamental principle of International Law

Freedom of the Seas: Fundamental principle of International Law


Washington DC, 14 February 2024 (TDI): The ‘Freedom of the Seas’ is a significant and fundamental principle of International Law. Due to the vast expanse of the world’s oceans, covering 70% of the planet compared to just 30% of land, we are faced with the question of what rules to apply to them.

According to the reports, ” Freedom of the Seas is the fundamental principle of international law developed over centuries and is respected by coastal countries around the world. It balances requirements of trade, travel, and national security.”

A well-developed body of international law provides a framework for all claims and activities at sea. Moreover, the rules reflect a careful balancing of coastal state and maritime state interests.

The rule emerged that coastal states could have sovereign control only in a narrow band of water. It is close to their shoreline known as the territorial sea. The nations declare the High Seas beyond the territorial sea to be free and belonging to no one.

Also Read: Multilateral Sea Dragon Exercise 2024

Territorial Sea

Furthermore, the territorial seas stretched previously as far as a state could exercise control from land for about 3 nautical miles (5.6 kilometers). In 1982, the United National Law of the Sea Convention extended the maximum breadth of a territorial sea to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers).

An estimated 90,000 vessels beyond the territorial sea, commercial vessels transport goods between countries.

Moreover, the countries can lay underwater pipes and cables in waters with fisheries in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) on high seas.

The US protests excessive maritime claims and conducts freedom of navigation operations. In addition, on a principled basis regardless of coastal state and excessive claims by the allies and partners.



Hamail Tahir
Hamail Tahir
A student of MPhil in Strategic Studies at National Defence University Islamabad (NDU). She is eager to understand the global changing dynamics and how states use their national interests to acquire regional hegemony. Her focus primarily lies in diplomatic and strategic initiatives during peace and conflict paradigms and can be reached at hamail.tahir@gmail.com

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