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US Navy exercise in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone without prior consent

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    13th Apr, 2021

In an unexpected move, the US Navy conducted a freedom of navigation patrol in Indian waters without India’s prior consent.

Context

In an unexpected move, the US Navy conducted a freedom of navigation patrol in Indian waters without India’s prior consent

About

About the US patrolling

  • The press release issued by the Commander of the US seventh fleet states that US asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands which lies inside India’s exclusive economic zone [EEZ].
  • US declared that patrolling in this without requesting India’s prior consent is consistent with international law.
  • The move is declared as intended to challenge to India’s “excessive maritime claims”.
  • This is also added that it upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized under the international law.
  • The unusual thing in the current patrolling was that this was the first time in recent that the US navy has publicly acknowledged that a military ship has entered India’s EEZ.

Exclusive Economic Zone

  • An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • It is considered as an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
  • It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the state in question.
  • It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin. 

The reason of ambiguity

  • The differences began during the drafting of the treaty over the interpretation of Article 58(i) of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which two nations interpret in their own ways.
  • India and the US have fundamental differences in coastal states’ rights for stopping the foreign military ships to conduct military activities within their EEZ.
  • India has ratified the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, the US has not ratified UNCLOS.
  • Article 58 (i), says that In the exclusive economic zone, all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy, subject to the relevant provisions of this Convention, the freedoms referred to in article 87 of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms, such as those associated with the operation of ships, aircraft and submarine cables and pipelines, and compatible with the other provisions of this Convention.
  • Maritimes nations such as US have long interpreted it as that the phrase “other internationally lawful uses of the sea” means that they are free to enjoy the freedom to operate in the EEZ.
  • They also cite Article 87 which lists freedoms in the high seas, including freedom of navigation, implying that this applies to the EEZ.

UNCLOS

  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is also called the Law of the Sea Convention.
    • The Convention was concluded in 1982.
  • It is an international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III).
  • The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

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