Troubled seas? The changing politics of maritime boundary disputes

Last modified: 
March 1, 2021 - 3:56pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2021
Date published: 05/2021
Authors: Andreas Østhagen
Journal title: Ocean & Coastal Management
Volume: 205
Pages: 105535
ISSN: 09645691

Maritime space is growing in importance. How states utilise, emphasise and view the maritime domain is changing. At the same time, maritime boundary disputes exist on all continents. Why do states engage in disputes over who owns what at sea? How do states delineate ownership and rights? How are these dynamics evolving? These core questions are examined in this article, which explores and reviews the concept of maritime boundaries and related disputes. The focus is on exclusive economic zones (EEZ), the extended maritime zones beyond territorial waters. Ocean boundaries delineating EEZs are important constructs for everything from oil and gas production to fisheries and environmental protection. Beyond function, trends like an increasing focus on the intangible attributes of disputes at sea, combined with the ongoing institutionalisation of ocean-space since the adoption of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, force us to update our assumptions regarding the political dynamics of ocean-space.

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