The Legal Status of Archipelagos in the International Law of the Sea

Maher Gamil Aboukhewat


The archipelagic States, which attempt to extend their control over the waters surrounding their islands, are demanding the establishment of a legal system for archipelagos in order to preserve their interests, their maritime wealth and their regional security. On the other hand, there are the great maritime States that hold on to the freedom of the sea and international navigation.

The problems raised by the islands constituting the archipelago did not stand at the end of sovereignty disputes and their right to their own maritime areas, but many other problems were associated with the presence of archipelagic islands. The measurement of marine areas of archipelagic islands requires a description of how the baselines from which these areas are measured are to be drawn. Also, the measurement of marine areas of the islands of individual problems is different from those raised by the presence of the islands in the form of an archipelago. Drawing baselines also varies according to the archipelagic islands site, and whether they are located in front of the coast regions or at the entrances to the bays in these coasts, or were located in the sea or ocean.

These problems remained subject to international controversy and tension until a new system of archipelagic State was adopted under Part IV of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, which represents a very important renewal of the international law of the sea.

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