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Robert Beckman Director, Centre for International Law (CIL) National University of Singapore

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JTF Workshop on Green Cable Systems: New Developments and Demonstrator Project 16-17 October 2014, Singapore UNCLOS Legal Regimes and Green Cable Systems. Robert Beckman Director, Centre for International Law (CIL) National University of Singapore. UNCLOS and Use of Cables for MSR.

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JTF Workshop on Green Cable Systems: New Developments and Demonstrator Project 16-17 October 2014, Singapore UNCLOS Legal Regimes and Green Cable Systems

Robert Beckman

Director, Centre for International Law (CIL)

National University of Singapore

unclos and use of cables for msr
UNCLOS and Use of Cables for MSR
  • Marine Scientific Research (MSR) refers to activities undertaken in the oceans to expand general scientific knowledge of the marine environment for peaceful purposes which is made publicly available
  • The collection of oceanographic data by sensors in submarine cables would fall within the definition of MSR
  • Therefore, the use of submarine cables for research purposes would be subject to two legal regimes under the Law of the Sea
    • Provisions on the laying and repair of Submarine Cables
    • Provisions on Marine Scientific Research
importance of maritime zones
Importance of Maritime Zones
  • Rights and obligations of States with regard to submarine cables and MSR are set out in 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
  • Rights and obligations of States depends upon the maritime zone in which the cables are located:
    • Zones subject to sovereignty of coastal State – ports/internal waters, territorial sea and archipelagic waters
    • Zones outside sovereignty of coastal State – EEZ, continental shelf, high seas and deep seabed

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general principles
General Principles
  • In internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea, the consent of coastal state is required for the laying and repair of submarine cables and for the conduct of MSR
  • On the high seas, the general principle is that all States have the freedom to conduct MSR and the freedom to lay cables, subject only to consent of the flag State
  • In the EEZ and on the Continental Shelf, the situation is much more complex as those regimes are neither subject to sovereignty nor part of the high seas, but special resource zones in which the interests of user States and the interests of coastal States are balanced
cables in eez continental shelf
Cables in EEZ & Continental Shelf
  • All States have the freedom to lay and repair submarine Cables subject to:
    • Duty to give due regard to other users of the oceans
    • Duty to give due regard to rights and obligations of coastal States to explore & exploit resources and protect the marine environment
  • Subject to right to take reasonable measures to regulate the exploration of the shelf and the exploitation of its natural resources, coastal states may not impede the laying and maintenance of cables.
collecting data vs transporting data
Collecting Data vs Transporting Data
  • If the cables are merely transporting data collected elsewhere, the regime governing submarine cables will apply
  • If the cables are collection oceanographic data, then the regime on MSR will also apply
msr in the eez and on the continental shelf
MSR in the EEZ and on the Continental Shelf
  • The general principle is that MSR is subject to the Consent of the Coastal State
  • If the MSR may be of direct significance for the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources, the Coastal State has the right to withhold its consent
  • If the MSR is for the collection of oceanographic date for research purposes and is carried out with the intention of open publication, the coastal State should in normal circumstances grant its consent
implied consent for msr
Implied Consent for MSR
  • Applications for consent should be made to the coastal State at least 6 months before the start of the research
  • If the coastal State does not respond to the request within 4 months, its implied consent can be presumed
  • These rules apply not only to research conducted from vessels, but also to scientific research equipment or installations
  • It is generally agreed that the routine collection of marine meteorological data by voluntary observation ships under the WMO World Weather Watch system is not governed by the UNCLOS rules on MSR
recommendation
Recommendation
  • The scientists, the cable industry and the International organizations should work together to develop Best Practices so that the consent of coastal States can be obtained without delay
thanks for your attention
Thanks for your attention

Prof Robert Beckman

Director, Centre for International Law (CIL)

National University of Singapore

Email: [email protected]

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