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The International Law of the Sea
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The International Law of the Sea

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Published Sept 2010 (Hart Publishing)
ISBN: 9781841132570. Paperback, 516 pages.

Donald R Rothwell and Tim Stephens

The law of the sea provides for the regulation, management and governance of the ocean spaces that cover over two-thirds of the Earth's surface. This book provides a fresh explanation of the foundational principles of the law of the sea, a critical overview of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and an analysis of subsequent developments including the many bilateral, regional and global agreements that supplement the Convention.

The book takes as its focus the rules and institutions established by the Convention on the Law of the Sea and places the achievements of the Convention in both historical and contemporary context. All of the main areas of the law of the sea are addressed including the foundations and sources of the law, the nature and extent of the maritime zones, the delimitation of overlapping maritime boundaries, the place of archipelagic and other special states in the law of the sea, navigational rights and freedoms, military activities at sea, and marine resource and conservation issues including fisheries, marine environmental protection, and dispute settlement. 

As the Convention is now over a quarter of a century old the book takes stock of contemporary oceans issues that are not adequately addressed by the convention. Overarching challenges facing the law of the sea are considered, including how new maritime security initiatives can be reconciled with traditional navigational rights and freedoms, how declines in the health of marine ecosystems can be halted through strengthened legal regimes, and how the law of the sea can regulate ocean space in the Polar regions as global warming opens up new possibilities for resource exploitation.

Donald R Rothwell is Professor of International Law at the Australian National University, Canberra
Tim Stephens is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sydney.


Rothwell and Stephens cover the 'history' of the development of the 'law of the sea' succinctly and with enough detail for the reader to fully understand what happened and why...the bulk of the book is concerned with a detailed description and analysis of each section of the LOSC; this is useful, both as a textbook and also for the general reader.

This detailed consideration is invaluable to both lawyers and non-lawyers alike, as readers gain a solid understanding of maritime and legal issues, historical deliberations over these issues, limitations in the law, and varied interpretations of the law. One of the authors had the misfortune of attempting to teach me the 'law of the sea' over a decade ago; while his instruction was excellent, this book is an able 'support' to future lectures.
Andrew Forbes
Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs
Volume 3, Issue 2

Without question, this is one of the more important contributions to the general literature on international ocean law in the past few years. The authors have ... succeeded in preparing a comprehensive introduction to the international law of the sea.
Ted L. McDorman
Ocean Development and International Law
August 2011

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