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in international law, that part of the world ocean that is outside the territorial waters of any state and is for the general use of all states.
The high seas are used on the basis of the generally accepted international legal principle of freedom of the seas, which stipulates that no country has the right to extend its authority to the high seas or to the air space above. The principle was affirmed by the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas. All states have rights to commercial and military navigation on the high seas, to fish and hunt marine animals, to lay cable and pipelines, and to conduct scientific research; the aircraft of all countries may fly freely over the high seas.
A ship on the high seas is governed only by the authority of that state whose flag it flies. This is known as flag jurisdiction. An exception to this rule is the right of a foreign warship to stop and inspect another vessel on the high seas under certain conditions. During time of war, the high seas may become a theater of military operations.