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 Why in the news?

  •  The U.S.  Navy's 7th Fleet said that the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur, conducted a regular transit in the Taiwan strait, following the international norms which is in International waters.

  • The passage demonstrates the U.S. commitment to free and open Indo-Pacific.

  • China protested the U.S. Navy passage via Taiwan Strait. It called the transit as an attempt to undermine peace and security.

Source of



              UNCLOS i.e. United Nations Convention on Law of the sea of 1982, which is also known as Law of seas. It is the only convention which stipulates a framework for state jurisdiction in maritime spaces. It gives different legal status to different maritime zones.

UNCLOS divides marine areas into five main zones namely- 

  • Internal Waters

    • water on the landward side of the baseline.

    • Each coastal state has full sovereignty over their internal water.

    • There is no right of innocent passage through internal waters. I.e. passing through  the waters which are not prejudicial to peace and security. 

  • Territorial Sea:

    • It extends from baseline towards the sea upto extent of 12 nautical miles.

    • Coastal states have full sovereignty over these waters.

    • The rights extend to seabed, subsoil and airspace as well.

    • The right of innocent passage of state is limited in this area.

  • Contiguous Zone:

    • It extends upto 12 nautical miles from the territorial seas.

    • The Border state has the right to prevent and punish infringement of fiscal, immigration, sanitary, and customs laws within its territory and territorial sea.

    • It is considered as an intermediary zone between territorial waters and high seas

    • Jurisdiction of state extends to only ocean surface and floor and not to sea bed and air space.

  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ):

    • It extends upto 200 nautical miles from the baseline.

    • Coastal state’s sovereign rights in the EEZ extends to exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living or nonliving, of the seabed and subsoil.

    • It also has the rights to carry out activities like the production of energy from the water, currents and wind.

    • It doesn’t allow the state to prohibit/ limit freedom of navigation or overflight

  • The High Seas.

    • The oceans beyond the EEZ are referred to as the high seas.

    • High Seas are considered as “the common heritage of all mankind”.

    • It is beyond the jurisdiction of  any national jurisdiction.

    • The activities allowed in these areas include transit, marine science, and undersea exploration. as long as they are for peaceful purposes.

Source of image: legalservicesindia

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