territorial waters(redirected from U.S. territorial waters)
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waters, territorial,all waters within the jurisdiction, recognized in international lawinternational law,
body of rules considered legally binding in the relations between national states, also known as the law of nations. It is sometimes called public international law in contrast to private international law (or conflict of laws), which regulates private legal
..... Click the link for more information. , of a country. Certain waters by their situation are controlled by one nation; these include wholly enclosed inland seas, lakes, and rivers. Control of boundary lakes and rivers extends to the middle of the navigable channel, but agreements to share the use of such waters and of waters that flow through several countries (e.g., the Rhine, the Danube) are common. When waters are almost completely bordered by one country, but lie along an international navigation route (e.g., the Bosporus), treaties often make them available to all ships.
Since the 18th cent. coastal states have been held to have jurisdiction over unenclosed waters for 3 nautical mi (3.45 mi/5.55 km) from the low water line, a measure originally derived from the distance of a cannon shot. In the case of a bay up to 24 mi (39 km) wide, a line drawn from one enclosing point to the other marked the outer limit of territorial jurisdiction. A broader zone of jurisdiction to combat smuggling has long been claimed by various states, as by the United States during prohibitionprohibition,
legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor laws. The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as a result of the agitation of
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Merchant ships of all flags have the right of "innocent passage" in a nation's territorial waters; the rights of nonbelligerent foreign warships in this zone, and the extent of the jurisdiction of the coastal nation's courts over ships passing through and incidents in the zone, have long been matters of debate. Fishing and mineral extraction within the zone are entirely within the control of the coastal nation. In the 20th cent., coastal nations progressively widened their claims over offshore waters, especially in the face of competition from foreign fishing fleets and in anticipation of rich oil, gas, and mineral finds on the continental shelf. The UN-sponsored Law of the Sea treaty, which went into effect in 1994, codified territorial waters of 12 nautical mi (13.8 mi/22.2 km) and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical mi (230 mi/370 km). In 1999, U.S. agencies were empowered by presidential proclamation to enforce American law up to 24 miles (39 km) offshore, doubling the previous limit.
territorial waters:see waters, territorialwaters, territorial,
all waters within the jurisdiction, recognized in international law, of a country. Certain waters by their situation are controlled by one nation; these include wholly enclosed inland seas, lakes, and rivers.
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(or territorial sea), a maritime zone bordering on the coast or inland waters of a country and constituting part of the country’s territory. The coastal country possesses sovereignty over the surface and depths of the territorial waters, as well as the airspace above them. Territorial waters are regulated by the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone (ratified by the USSR on Oct. 20,1960) and by internal legislation of individual countries.
Territorial waters are marked off from the low-water line, either from the borders of inland waters or from baselines. International law does not permit the extension of territorial waters beyond 12 nautical miles. By 1975 about 100 countries had territorial waters extending up to 12 nautical miles. Twenty-two countries, taking advantage of the fact that the 1958 convention left open the question of the extent of territorial waters, unilaterally established wider territorial waters. For example, Brazil, Peru, Sierra Leone, Uruguay, and Ecuador have limits of 200 nautical miles. The USSR supports fixing 12-mile limits for territorial waters but at the same time is ready to recognize the sovereign right of a coastal country to prospect for and exploit fisheries and mineral resources in the sea zone contiguous to the territorial waters, which is called the economic zone. The regulation of these zones should, however, take into account the right of all countries, within the limits of such a zone, to the universally recognized freedoms of the high seas, including the freedom of navigation.
Ships of all countries have the right of innocent passage through territorial waters, provided that the conditions of the convention are observed—that is, the passage must not violate the security of the coastal country, submarines may pass through only if they are surfaced, and so on. A number of countries, including the USSR, have established that foreign military ships may pass through their coastal waters and enter inland waters only with advance permission from the government. The conduct by foreign ships of maritime trade and hydrographic work and research within territorial waters is forbidden by most countries, except under special arrangements.