The terms international waters
or trans-boundary waters
apply where any of the following types of bodies of water
(or their drainage basins
) transcend international boundaries: oceans
, large marine ecosystems
, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas
), and wetlands
Oceans, seas, and waters outside of national jurisdiction are also referred to as the high seas or, in Latin, mare liberum.
Ships sailing the high seas are generally under the jurisdiction of the flag state (but this is obsolete as of November 16, 1994), since due to cases of piracy and slave trade, any nation can exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of hostis humani generis presuming they enter the nation's sovereign waters. Mare liberum still applies to this day as not all nations have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty, yet some nations still abide by the doctrine. Mare Liberum is the 'freedom of the sea,' where all jurisdictions are quashed in modern legal systems except those under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; this will be the case until all nations have signed and ratified the treaty. For these reasons international law is obfuscated.
Several international treaties have established freedom of navigation on semi-enclosed seas.
Other international treaties have opened up rivers, which are not traditionally international waterways.
- The Danube River has been internationalized so that landlocked Austria, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia (now only Slovakia has access to the Danube), and southern Germany (Germany itself is not landlocked, having access to both the North Sea and Baltic Sea) could have secure access to the Black Sea.
Disputes over International waters
Current unresolved disputes over whether particular waters are "International waters" include:
Links and references
International waters agreements
At least ten conventions are included within the Regional Seas Program
- the Atlantic Coast of West and Central Africa (Abidjan Convention, 1984);
- the North-East Pacific (Antigua Convention);
- the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention);
- the wider Caribbean (Cartagena Convention);
- the South-East Pacific (Lima Convention, 1986);
- the South Pacific (Nouméa Convention);
- the East African seaboard (Nairobi Convention, 1985);
- the Kuwait region (Kuwait Convention);
- the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (Jeddah Convention).
Addressing regional freshwater issues is the 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE/Helsinki Water Convention)
Water body-specific agreements
International waters institutions
International waters resources on the web