International Law Studies


Louis M. Monroy


As of today, the framework of ocean governance of coastal maritime areas created by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is well understood and accepted by the international community. However, there are large and important areas of ocean space around the world that are subject to a more nuanced framework of interrelated norms. These are maritime areas that have come under the effective control of occupying States, often through the use of force. As such, the legal framework applicable to these maritime areas is that of the law of occupation. Nevertheless, because of the specificities of the zonal maritime regimes established under UNCLOS, the application of the law of occupation is seldom as straightforward at sea as it is on land. The objective of this article is therefore to shed some light on the application of the law of occupation at sea, and in doing so arrive at a comprehensive analysis of the rights and duties of occupying States in maritime areas.