Office of Policy Development: Special Assistant to the President

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Description

The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

The convention introduced a number of provisions. The most significant issues covered were setting limits, navigation, archipelagic status and transit regimes, exclusive economic zones (EEZs), continental shelf jurisdiction, deep seabed mining, the exploitation regime, protection of the marine environment, scientific research, and settlement of disputes.

The convention set the limit of various areas, measured from a carefully defined baseline. (Normally, a sea baseline follows the low-water line, but when the coastline is deeply indented, has fringing islands or is highly unstable, straight baselines may be used.) The areas are as follows:

Internal waters which covers all water and waterways on the landward side of the baseline. The coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource. Foreign vessels have no right of passage within internal waters.

Territorial waters covers the coastal waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres; 14 miles) from the baseline, the coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource. Vessels were given the right of innocent passage through any territorial waters, with strategic straits allowing the passage of military craft as transit passage, in that naval vessels are allowed to maintain postures that would be illegal in territorial waters. "Innocent passage" is defined by the convention as passing through waters in an expeditious and continuous manner, which is not "prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security" of the coastal state. Fishing, polluting, weapons practice, and spying are not "innocent", and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag. Nations can also temporarily suspend innocent passage in specific areas of their territorial seas, if doing so is essential for the protection of its security.

Archipelagic waters which the convention defined how the state can draw its territorial borders. A baseline is drawn between the outermost points of the outermost islands, subject to these points being sufficiently close to one another. All waters inside this baseline are designated Archipelagic Waters. The state has sovereignty over these waters (like internal waters), but subject to existing rights including traditional fishing rights of immediately adjacent states. Foreign vessels have right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters (like territorial waters).

Contiguous zone is the area beyond the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) limit, there is a further 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the territorial sea baseline limit, the contiguous zone, in which a state can continue to enforce laws in four specific areas: customs, taxation, immigration and pollution, if the infringement started within the state's territory or territorial waters, or if this infringement is about to occur within the state's territory or territorial waters. This makes the contiguous zone a hot pursuit area.

Exclusive economic zones (EEZs) extend from the edge of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres; 230 miles) from the baseline. Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. In casual use, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf. The EEZs were introduced to halt the increasingly heated clashes over fishing rights, although oil was also becoming important. The success of an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 1947 was soon repeated elsewhere in the world, and by 1970 it was technically feasible to operate in waters 4,000 metres deep. Foreign nations have the freedom of navigation and overflight, subject to the regulation of the coastal states. Foreign states may also lay submarine pipes and cables.

Continental shelf is defined as the natural prolongation of the land territory to the continental margin's outer edge, or 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastal state's baseline, whichever is greater. A state's continental shelf may exceed 200 nautical miles (370 km) until the natural prolongation ends. However, it may never exceed 350 nautical miles (650 kilometres; 400 miles) from the baseline; or it may never exceed 100 nautical miles (190 kilometres; 120 miles) beyond the 2,500-meter isobath (the line connecting the depth of 2,500 meters). Coastal states have the right to harvest mineral and non-living material in the subsoil of its continental shelf, to the exclusion of others. Coastal states also have exclusive control over living resources "attached" to the continental shelf, but not to creatures living in the water column beyond the exclusive economic zone.

Note:

Any folder noted as (Disk) contains printouts of the disk contents. The disks are stored in Audio/Visual for preservation. The Library does not presently have the means to read these disks. We were able to printout the contents of the disks before our equipment became non-functioning.

This collection consists of four series: SERIES I: Law of the Sea Material; SERIES II: Subject File; SERIES III: Correspondence; SERIES IV: 1980 Campaign Material.

 

 

 

SERIES I: : Law of the Sea Material (This Series arrangement will be completed at a later date)
SERIES II: Subject File
SERIES III: Correspondence
SERIES IV: 1980 Campaign Material

Last Updated: 05/11/2023 01:34PM

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