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Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 07:03 (GMT+7)
Sovereignty, sovereign right, and jurisdiction in the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea 1982

The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea 1982 (also called the Law of the Sea Convention 1982) was officially signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica on 10th December 1982 by 119 party states, including Vietnam and came into force in 1994. UNCLOS 1982 has a crucial meaning. It is the international legal basis which rules the legal responsibility of signatories. The convention consists of 17 parts with 320 articles, and many other annexes in which sovereignty, sovereign right and jurisdiction are clearly mentioned.

Accordingly, sovereignty is the absolute ownership of an independent state over its territory. Sovereignty of a coastal state is the ultimate right which is exercised within the limit of its internal waters and territorial sea.

Sovereign right represents the rights that a coastal state enjoys basing on its sovereignty over all kinds of resources in its economic exclusive zone and continental shelf, as well as the exploring, exploiting in its economic exclusive zone and continental shelf for economic purpose, including the production of energy from water, ocean currents and wind, etc.

Jurisdiction is the private right of coastal states in making decision, regulations and supervising the enforcement of them, such as: licensing, settlement of some operations, artificial islands, equipment and projects on sea, including the installment and usage of artificial islands, equipment and marine scientific projects; protect and safeguard marine environment in the economic exclusive zone or continental shelf of the coastal state.

Sovereign right stems from sovereignty while jurisdiction derives from sovereign right which assists and makes it easier for the exercise of sovereign right.

Also according to UNCLOS 1982, coastal states have sovereignty over its internal waters and territorial seas. This sovereignty also extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil.

These are the compulsory regulations that signatories must study and strictly adhere to for the uniformity, order and maintenance of security, safety, and freedom of navigation on sea. At the same time, signatories must respect the inviolable sovereignty of others. They are not allowed to disregard the common interest of the region and the world nor violate the continental shelf, territorial sea of other countries for their own sake which have been ruled in the Convention. Countries should be deeply aware of their responsibility in implementing the Convention; resolutely fight against acts of power and aggression and power violating the Convention and irrespective of international laws. All emerging issues must be negotiated bilaterally and multilaterally and settled by peaceful means basing on international laws without the use of force because such use will benefit none.

Nguyen Duc Phu

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