Archipelagic States

Archipelagic States


Article 46
Use of terms

For the purposes of this Convention:
(a) “archipelagic State”means a State constituted wholly by one or more
archipelagos and may include other islands;
(b) “archipelago”means a group of islands, including parts of islands,
interconnecting waters and other natural features which are so
closely interrelated that such islands, waters and other natural
features form an intrinsic geographical, economic and political
entity, or which historically have been regarded as such.

Article 47
Archipelagic baselines

1. An archipelagic State may draw straight archipelagic baselines joining
the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the
archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main
islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area
of the land, including atolls, is between 1 to 1 and 9 to 1.

2. The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except
that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any
archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical

3. The drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent
from the general configuration of the archipelago.

4. Such baselines shall not be drawn to and from low-tide elevations,
unless lighthouses or similar installations which are permanently above sea
level have been built on them or where a low-tide elevation is situated
wholly or partly at a distance not exceeding the breadth of the territorial
sea from the nearest island.

5. The system of such baselines shall not be applied by an archipelagic
State in such a manner as to cut off from the High Seas or the exclusive
economic zone the territorial sea of another State.

6. If a part of the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State lies
between two parts of an immediately adjacent neighbouring State, existing
rights and all other legitimate interests which the latter State has
traditionally exercised in such waters and all rights stipulated by
agreement between those States shall continue and be respected.

7. For the purpose of computing the ratio of water to land under paragraph
1, land areas may include waters lying within the fringing reefs of islands
and atolls, including that part of a steep-sided oceanic plateau which is
enclosed or nearly enclosed by a chain of limestone islands and drying
reefs lying on the perimeter of the plateau.

8. The baselines drawn in accordance with this article shall be shown on
charts of a scale or scales adequate for ascertaining their position.
Alternatively, lists of geographical co-ordinates of points, specifying the
geodetic datum, may be substituted.

9. The archipelagic State shall give due publicity to such charts or lists
of geographical co-ordinates and shall deposit a copy of each such chart or
list with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 48
Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the
contiguous zone, the Exclusive Economic Zone and the
Continental Shelf

The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive
economic zone and the Continental Shelf shall be measured from archipelagic
baselines drawn in accordance with article 47.

Article 49
Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over
archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil

1. The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed
by the archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47,
described as archipelagic waters, regardless of their depth or distance
from the coast.

2. This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters,
as well as to their bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein.

3. This sovereignty is exercised subject to this Part.

4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part
shall not in other respects affect the status of the archipelagic waters,
including the sea lanes, or the exercise by the archipelagic State of its
sovereignty over such waters and their air space, bed and subsoil, and the
resources contained therein.

Article 50
Delimitation of internal waters

Within its archipelagic waters, the archipelagic State may draw closing
lines for the delimitation of internal waters, in accordance with articles
9, 10 and 11.

Article 51
Existing agreements, traditional fishing rights and existing
submarine cables

1. Without prejudice to article 49, an archipelagic State shall respect
existing agreements with other States and shall recognize traditional
fishing rights and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent
neighbouring States in certain areas falling within archipelagic waters.
The terms and conditions for the exercise of such rights and activities,
including the nature, the extent and the areas to which they apply, shall,
at the request of any of the States concerned, be regulated by bilateral
agreements between them. Such rights shall not be transferred to or shared
with third States or their nationals.

2. An archipelagic State shall respect existing submarine cables laid by
other States and passing through its waters without making a landfall. An
archipelagic State shall permit the maintenance and replacement of such
cables upon receiving due notice of their location and the intention to
repair or replace them.

Article 52
Right of innocent passage

1. Subject to article 53 and without prejudice to article 50, ships of all
States enjoy the right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters, in
accordance with Part II, section 3.

2. The archipelagic State may, without discrimination in form or in fact
among foreign ships, suspend temporarily in specified areas of its
archipelagic waters the innocent passage of foreign ships if such
suspension is essential for the protection of its security. Such suspension
shall take effect only after having been duly published.

Article 53
Right of archipelagic sea lanes passage

1. An archipelagic State may designate sea lanes and air routes thereabove,
suitable for the continuous and expeditious passage of foreign ships and
aircraft through or over its archipelagic waters and the adjacent
territorial sea.

2. All ships and aircraft enjoy the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage
in such sea lanes and air routes.

3. Archipelagic sea lanes passage means the exercise in accordance with
this Convention of the rights of navigation and overflight in the normal
mode solely for the purpose of continuous, expeditious and unobstructed
transit between one part of the High Seas or an Exclusive Economic Zone and
another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone.

4. Such sea lanes and air routes shall traverse the archipelagic waters and
the adjacent territorial sea and shall include all normal passage routes
used as routes for international navigation or overflight through or over
archipelagic waters and, within such routes, so far as ships are concerned,
all normal navigational channels, provided that duplication of routes of
similar convenience between the same entry and exit points shall not be

5. Such sea lanes and air routes shall be defined by a series of continuous
axis lines from the entry points of passage routes to the exit points.
Ships and aircraft in archipelagic sea lanes passage shall not deviate more
than 25 nautical miles to either side of such axis lines during passage,
provided that such ships and aircraft shall not navigate closer to the
coasts than 10 per cent of the distance between the nearest points on
islands bordering the sea lane.

6. An archipelagic State which designates sea lanes under this article may
also prescribe traffic separation schemes for the safe passage of ships
through narrow channels in such sea lanes.

7. An archipelagic State may, when circumstances require, after giving due
publicity thereto, substitute other sea lanes or traffic separation schemes
for any sea lanes or traffic separation schemes previously designated or
prescribed by it.

8. Such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes shall conform to generally
accepted international regulations.

9. In designating or substituting sea lanes or prescribing or substituting
traffic separation schemes, an archipelagic State shall refer proposals to
the competent international organization with a view to their adoption. The
organization may adopt only such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes
as may be agreed with the archipelagic State, after which the archipelagic
State may designate, prescribe or substitute them.

10. The archipelagic State shall clearly indicate the axis of the sea lanes
and the traffic separation schemes designated or prescribed by it on charts
to which due publicity shall be given.

11. Ships in archipelagic sea lanes passage shall respect applicable sea
lanes and traffic separation schemes established in accordance with this

12. If an archipelagic State does not designate sea lanes or air routes,
the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage may be exercised through the
routes normally used for internal navigation.

Article 54
Duties of ships and aircraft during their passage, research
and survey activities, duties of the archipelagic State and
laws and regulations of the archipelagic State relating to
archipelagic sea lanes passage

Articles 39, 40, 42 and 44 apply mutatis mutandis to archipelagic sea lanes



See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone, High Seas, Marine and Coastal conventions, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 33.



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