International Law Studies


This article explores whether it is possible to apply the law of occupation beyond land territory, to maritime areas characterized here as “maritime territory.” The article argues that the definition of territory under Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations comprises internal waters, territorial sea, and archipelagic waters, whereas other areas such as the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone, and high seas fall outside the scope of Article 42. Accordingly, internal waters, the territorial sea, and archipelagic waters may be placed under occupation if a hostile force exercises actual authority over them without valid legal title. The article describes how the actual authority test embodied in Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Regulations applies to maritime territory and maintains that maritime territory may be occupied only in connection to an occupation of land territory. The article then addresses why applying the law of occupation to maritime territory may solve some of the current problems regarding the duties and rights of occupying powers in relation to the sea off the coasts of the areas they occupy. In particular, the application of the law of occupation can affect the exploitation of natural resources at sea and the regulation of the use of armed force. Finally, the article explores how the rules embodied in the law of occupation interact with the rules on naval warfare in the occupied maritime territory.