Straits, International

Straits, International

 

in international law, straits used for international navigation and therefore open to ships of all countries under equal conditions. Freedom of the high seas is a generally recognized principle of international law, and the legal regime that applies to the high seas also applies to straits that link two parts of the high seas and that are important international waterways. International straits are free for navigation by ships of all nations, regardless of whether or not they overlap with the territorial waters of littoral states. Among such international straits are the Strait of Gibraltar, La Manche (the English Channel), Pas de Calais (the Strait of Dover), Bab el Mandeb, Singapore Strait, and the Strait of Magellan.

International straits that are the only outlet from enclosed seas to the high seas have a special legal status. The rules of navigation in such straits are regulated by special international agreements that in many cases contain restrictions on entry into enclosed seas by warships of countries without coastlines on those seas.

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