The Legality of Foreign Military Activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone under UNCLOS

Author:Jing Geng
Position:Utrecht University School of Law, LL.M. Candidate Public International Law (2012); Washington University School of Law, J.D. (2011); Washington University College of Arts & Sciences, B.A. Psychology (2008)
Pages:22-30
e Legality of Foreign Military Activities in the Exclusive
Economic Zone under UNCLOS
Jing Geng
Merkourios 2012 – Volume 28/Issue 74, Article, pp. 22-30.
URN: NBN:NL:UI:10-1-112848
ISSN: 0927-460X
URL: www.merkourios.org
Publisher: Igitur, Utrecht Publishing & Archiving Services
Copyright: this work has been licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0)
Keywords
Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, Exclusive Economic Zone, Foreign Military Activities, Freedom of Navigation, Military Uses of
the Ocean, Peacetime Naval Operations, South China Sea
Abstract
During negotiations for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), military activities in another
state’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were a point of contention. Currently, the issue remains controversial in state
practice. UNCLOS attempts to balance the diering interests of coastal and maritime states, but is silent or ambiguous on
the legality of military operations in foreign EEZs. Coastal states seek to assert increasing control over their maritime zones
while maritime states prioritize the freedom of navigation. is article examines the competing views on these issues in the
context of the 2009 Impeccable incident between China and the United States that occurred in the South China Sea. e
issue of military activities in the EEZ will continue to be a complex subject, without clear denitions in the nature and scope
of permissible activity. As state practice evolves, the potential for hostilities is high, particularly in semi-enclosed sea areas
such as the South China Sea. is article concludes that states should create dialogues and form agreements to help clarify
the contours of military activity in the EEZ, focusing on mutual interests, interdependence, and coexistence rather than
perceiving the ocean as a zero-sum resource.
Author Aliations
Utrecht University School of Law, LL.M. Candidate Public International Law (2012); Washington University School of Law,
J.D. (2011); Washington University College of Arts & Sciences, B.A. Psychology (2008). e author would like to thank the
Merkourios Editorial Board and Dr. Alex Oude Elferink for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.
Article
Merkourios - International and European Security Law - Vol. 28/74 22

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