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TERRITORIAL SEA AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Article 2. Legal status of the territorial
sea, of the air space over the territorial sea and of its bed and subsoil
1. The sovereignty of a coastal State
extends beyond its land territory and internal waters and, in the case
of an archipelagic State, its archipelagic waters, to an adjacent belt
of sea, described as the territorial sea.
2. This sovereignty extends to the air
space over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil.
3. The sovereignty over the territorial
sea is exercised subject to this Convention and to other rules of international
SECTION 2. LIMITS OF THE TERRITORIAL
Article 3. Breadth of the territorial
Every State has the right to establish
the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical
miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.
Article 4. Outer limit of the territorial
The outer limit of the territorial sea
is the line every point of which is at a distance from the nearest point
of the baseline equal to the breadth of the territorial sea.
Article 5. Normal baseline
Except where otherwise provided
in this Convention, the normal baseline for measuring the breadth of the
territorial sea is the low-water line along the coast as marked on large-scale
charts officially recognized by the coastal State.
Article 6. Reefs
In the case of islands situated on atolls
or of islands having fringing reefs, the baseline for measuring the breadth
of the territorial sea is the seaward low-water line of the reef,
as shown by the appropriate symbol on charts officially recognized by the
Article 7. Straight baselines
1. In localities where the coastline
is deeply indented and cut into, or if there is a fringe of islands
along the coast in its immediate vicinity, the method of straight baselines
joining appropriate points may be employed in drawing the baseline from
which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
2. Where because of the presence of
a delta and other natural conditions the coastline is highly unstable,
the appropriate points may be selected along the furthest seaward extent
of the low-water line and, notwithstanding subsequent regression of the
low-water line, the straight baselines shall remain effective until changed
by the coastal State in accordance with this Convention.
3. The drawing of straight baselines
must not depart to any appreciable extent from the general direction of
the coast, and the sea areas lying within the lines must be sufficiently
closely linked to the land domain to be subject to the regime of internal
4. Straight baselines shall not be drawn
to and from low-tide elevations, unless lighthouses or similar installations
which are permanently above sea level have been built on them or except
in instances where the drawing of baselines to and from such elevations
has received general international recognition.
5. Where the method of straight baselines
is applicable under paragraph 1, account may be taken, in determining particular
baselines, of economic interests peculiar to the region concerned, the
reality and the importance of which are clearly evidenced by long usage.
6. The system of straight baselines
may not be applied by a State in such a manner as to cut off the territorial
sea of another State from the high seas or an exclusive economic zone.
Article 8. Internal waters
1. Except as provided in Part IV, waters
on the landward side of the baseline of the territorial sea form part of
the internal waters of the state.
2. Where the establishment of a straight
baseline in accordance with the method set forth in article 7 has the effect
of enclosing as internal waters areas which had not previously been considered
as such, a right of innocent passage as provided in this Convention shall
exist in those waters.
Article 9. Mouths of rivers
If a river flows directly into the sea,
the baseline shall be a straight line across the mouth of the river between
points on the low-water line of its banks.
Article 10. Bays
1. This article relates only to bays
the coasts of which belong to a single State.
2. For the purposes of this Convention,
a bay is a well-marked indentation whose penetration is in such proportion
to the width of its mouth as to contain land-locked waters and constitute
more than a mere curvature of the coast. An indentation shall not, however,
be regarded as a bay unless its area is as large as, or larger than, that
of the semi-circle whose diameter is a line drawn across the mouth of that
3. For the purpose of measurement, the
area of an indentation is that lying between the low-water mark around
the shore of the indentation and a line joining the low-water mark of its
natural entrance points.
Where, because of the presence of islands,
an indentation has more than one mouth, the semi-circle shall be drawn
on a line as long as the sum total of the lengths of the lines across the
Islands within an indentation shall
be included as if they were part of the water area of the indentation.
4. If the distance between the low-water
marks of the natural entrance points of a bay does not exceed 24 nautical
miles, a closing line may be drawn between these two low-water marks, and
the waters enclosed thereby shall be considered as internal waters.
5. Where the distance between the low-water
marks of the natural entrance points of a bay exceeds 24 nautical miles,
a straight baseline of 24 nautical miles shall be drawn within the bay
in such a manner as to enclose the maximum area of water that is possible
with a line of that length.
6. The foregoing provisions do not apply
to so-called 'historic' bays, or in any case where the system of straight
baselines provided for in article 7 is applied.
Article 11. Ports
For the purpose of delimiting the territorial
sea, the outermost permanent harbour works which form an integral part
of the harbour system are regarded as forming part of the coast. Off-shore
installations and artificial islands shall not be considered as permanent
Article 12. Roadsteads
Roadsteads which are normally used for
the loading, unloading and anchoring of ships, and which would otherwise
be situated wholly or partly outside the outer limit of the territorial
sea, are included in the territorial sea.
Article 13. Low-tide elevations
1. A low-tide elevation is a naturally
formed area of land which is surrounded by and above water at low tide
but submerged at high tide. Where a low-tide elevation is situated wholly
or partly at a distance not exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea
from the mainland or an island, the low-water line on that elevation may
be used as the baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea.
2. Where a low-tide elevation is wholly
situated at a distance exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea from
the mainland or an island, it has no territorial sea of its own.
Article 14. Combination o f methods
for determining baselines
The coastal State may determine baselines
in turn by any of the methods provided for in the foregoing articles to
suit different conditions.
Article 15. Delimitation of the territorial
sea between States with opposite or adjacent coasts
Where the coasts of two States are opposite
or adjacent to each other, neither of the two States is entitled, failing
agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial sea beyond
the median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points
on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each
of the two States is measured. The above provision does not apply, however,
where it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances
to delimit the territorial seas of the two States in a way which is at
Article 16. Charts and lists of geographical
1. The baselines for measuring the breadth
of the territorial sea determined in accordance with articles 7, 9 and
10, or the limits derived therefrom, and the lines of delimitation drawn
in accordance with articles 12 and 15 shall be shown on charts of a scale
or scales adequate for ascertaining their position. Alternatively, a list
of geographical co-ordinates of points, specifying the geodetic datum,
may be substituted.
2. The coastal State shall give due
publicity to such charts or lists of geographical co-ordinates and shall
deposit a copy of each such chart or list with the Secretary-General of
the United Nations.
SECTION 3. INNOCENT PASSAGE IN THE TERRITORIAL
Subsection A. Rules Applicable to All
Article 17. Right of innocent passage
Subject to this Convention, ships of
all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent
passage through the territorial sea.
Article 18. Meaning of passage
1. Passage means navigation through
the territorial sea for the purpose of:
(a) traversing that sea without entering
internal waters or calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal
(b) proceeding to or from internal waters
or a call at such roadstead or port facility.
2. Passage shall be continuous and expeditious.
However, passage includes stopping and anchoring, but only in so far as
the same are incidental to ordinary navigation or are rendered necessary
by force majeure or distress or for the purpose of rendering assistance
to persons, ships or aircraft in danger or distress.
Article 19. Meaning of innocent passage
1. Passage is innocent so long as it
is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal
State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention
and with other rules of international law.
2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be
considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the
coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following
(a) any threat or use of force against
the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the
coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of
international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
(b) any exercise or practice with weapons
of any kind;
(c) any act aimed at collecting information
to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;
(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting
the defence or security of the coastal State;
(e) the launching, landing or taking
on board of any aircraft;
(f) the launching, landing or taking
on board of any military device;
(g) the loading or unloading of any
commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration
or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State
(h) any act of wilful and serious
pollution contrary to this Convention;
(i) any fishing activities
(j) the carrying out of research or
(k) any act aimed at interfering with
any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of
the coastal State;
(l) any other activity not having a
direct bearing on passage.
Article 20. Submarines and other underwater
In the territorial sea, submarines and
other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to
show their flag.
Article 21. Laws and regulations of
the coastal State relating to innocent passage
1. The coastal State may adopt laws
and regulations, in conformity with the provisions of this Convention and
other rules of international law, relating to innocent passage through
the territorial sea, in respect of all or any of the following:
(a) the safety of navigation and the
regulation of maritime traffic;
(b) the protection of navigational aids
and facilities and other facilities or installations;
(c) the protection of cables and pipelines;
(d ) the conservation of the living
resources of the sea;
(e) the prevention of infringement of
the fisheries laws and regulations of the coastal State;
(f) the preservation of the environment
of the coastal State and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution
(g) marine scientific research and hydrographic
(h) the prevention of infringement of
the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the
2. Such laws and regulations
shall not apply to the disign, construction, manning or equipment of foreign
ships unless they are giving effect to generally accepted international
rules or standards.
3. The coastal State shall give due
publicity to all such laws and regulations.
4. Foreign ships exercising the right
of innocent passage through the territorial sea shall comply with all such
laws and regulations and all generally accepted international regulations
relating to the prevention of collisions at sea.
Article 22. Sea lanes and traffic
separation schemes in the territorial sea
1. The coastal State may, where necessary
having regard to the safety of navigation, require the foreign ships exercising
the right of innocent passage through its territorial sea to use such sea
lanes and traffic separation schemes as it may designate or prescribe for
the regulation of the passage of ships.
2. In particular, tankers, nuclear-powered
ships and ships carrying nuclear or other inherently dangerous or noxious
substances or materials may be required to confine their passage
to such sea lanes.
3. In the designation of sea lanes and
the prescription of traffic separation schemes under this article, the
coastal State shall take into account:
(a) the recommendations of the competent
(b) any channels customarily used for
(c) the special characteristics of particular
ships and channels; and
(d ) the density of traffic.
4. The coastal State shall clearly indicate
such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes on charts to which due publicity
shall be given.
Article 23. Foreign nuclear-powered
ships and ships carrying nuclear or other inherently dangerous or noxious
Foreign nuclear-powered ships and ships
carrying nuclear or other inherently dangerous or noxious substances shall,
when exercising the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea,
carry documents and observe special precautionary measures established
for such ships by international agreements.
Article 24. Duties of the coastal State
1. The coastal State shall not hamper
the innocent passage of foreign ships through the territorial sea
except in accordance with this Convention. In particular, in the application
of this Convention or of any laws or regulations adopted in conformity
with this Convention, the coastal State shall not:
(a) impose requirements on foreign ships
which have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent
(b) discriminate in form or in fact against
the ships of any State or against ships carrying cargoes to, from or on
behalf of any State.
2. The coastal State shall give appropriate
publicity to any danger to navigation, of which it has knowledge, within
its territorial sea.
Article 25. Rights of protection of
the coastal State
1. The coastal State may take the necessary
steps in its territorial sea to prevent passage which is not innocent.
2. In the case of ships proceeding to
internal waters or a call at a port facility outside internal waters, the
coastal State also has the right to take the necessary steps to prevent
any breach of the conditions to which admission of those ships to internal
waters or such a call is subject.
3. The coastal State may, without discrimination
in form or in fact among foreign ships, suspend temporarily in specified
areas of its territorial sea the innocent passage of foreign ships if
such suspension is essential for the protection of its security, including
weapons exercises. Such suspension shall take effect only after having
been duly published.
Article 26. Charges which may be levied
upon foreign ships
1. No charge may be levied upon foreign
ships by reason only of their passage through the territorial sea.
2. Charges may be levied upon a foreign
ship passing through the territorial sea as payment only for specific services
rendered to the ship. These charges shall be levied without discrimination.
Subsection B. Rules Applicable to Merchant
Ships and Government Ships Operated for Commercial Purposes
Article 27. Criminal jurisdiction on
board a foreign ship
1. The criminal jurisdiction of the
coastal State should not be exercised on board a foreign ship passing through
the territorial sea to arrest any person or to conduct any investigation
in connection with any crime committed on board the ship during its passage,
save only in the following cases:
(a) if the consequences of the crime
extend to the coastal State;
(b) if the crime is of a kind to disturb
the peace of the country or the good order of the territorial sea;
(c) if the assistance of the local authorities
has been requested by the master of the ship or by a diplomatic agent or
consular officer of the flag State; or
(d) if such measures are necessary for
the suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
2. The above provisions do not affect
the right of the coastal State to take any steps authorized by its laws
for the purpose of an arrest or investigation on board a foreign
ship passing through the territorial sea after leaving internal waters.
3. In the cases provided for in paragraphs
1 and 2, the coastal State shall, if the master so requests, notify a diplomatic
agent or consular officer of the flag State before taking any steps, and
shall facilitate contact between such agent or officer and the ship's crew.
In cases of emergency this notification may be communicated while the measures
are being taken.
4. In considering whether or in what
manner an arrest should be made, the local authorities shall have due regard
to the interests of navigation.
5. Except as provided in Part XII or
with respect to violations of laws and regulations adopted in accordance
with Part V, the coastal State may not take any steps on board a foreign
ship passing through the territorial sea to arrest any person or
to conduct any investigation in connection with any crime committed
before the ship entered the territorial sea, if the ship, proceeding from
a foreign port, is only passing through the territorial sea without entering
Article 28. Civil jurisdiction in relation
to foreign ships
1. The coastal State should not stop
or divert a foreign ship passing through the territorial sea for the purpose
of exercising civil jurisdiction in relation to a person on board the ship.
2. The coastal State may not levy execution
against or arrest the ship for the purpose of any civil proceedings, save
only in respect of obligations or liabilities assumed or incurred by the
ship itself in the course or for the purpose of its voyage through the
waters of the coastal State.
3. Paragraph 2 is without prejudice
to the right of the coastal State, in accordance with its laws, to levy
execution against or to arrest, for the purpose of any civil proceedings,
a foreign ship lying in the territorial sea, or passing through the territorial
sea after leaving
Subsection C. Rules Applicable to Warships
and Other Government Ships Operated for Non-Commercial Purposes
Article 29. Definition of warships
For the purpose of this Convention,
'warship' means a ship belonging to the armed forces of a State bearing
the external marks distinguishing such ships of its nationality, under
the command of an officer duly commissioned by the government of the State
and whose name appears in the appropriate service list or its equivalent,
and manned by a crew which is under regular armed forces discipline.
Article 30. Non-compliance by warships
with the laws and regulations of the coastal State
If any warship does not comply with
the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through
the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith
which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial
Article 31. Responsibility of the flag
State for damage caused by a warship or other government ship operated
for non-commercial purposes
The flag State shall bear international
responsibility for any loss or damage to the coastal State resulting from
the non-compliance by a warship or other government ship operated for non-commercial
purposes with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning
passage through the territorial sea or with the provisions of this Convention
or other rules of international law.
Article 32. Immunities of warships and
other government ships operated for non-commercial purposes
With such exceptions as are contained
in subsection A and in articles 30 and 31, nothing in this Convention affects
the immunities of warships and other government ships operated for
SECTION 4. CONTIGUOUS ZONE
Article 33. Contiguous zone
1. In a zone contiguous to its territorial
sea, described as the contiguous zone, the coastal State may exercise the
control necessary to:
(a) prevent infringement of its customs,
fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory
or territorial sea;
(b) punish infringement of the above
laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea.
2. The contiguous zone may not extend
beyond 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the
territorial sea is measured.
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