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China as a Maritime Power and the Interpretation of Innocent Passage

Maritime powers have been instrumental in shaping the development of the Law of the Sea (LoS). While not uncontested, their inclusion and interpretation of key concepts into the LoS become dominant over time. As a result, expectations increase for other states to accept these or risk being cast as counter-normative actors. Nevertheless, the dominant interpretation of innocent passage, a pivotal component of the LoS, has been consistently contested by emerging powers like China. Although there is an assumption that as countries become maritime powers they are likely to prefer a broader interpretation of innocent passage, this neglects the historical context which informs these interpretations. In the case of China, its collective sense of insecurity and national trauma are framed by its experiences with Western powers that exploited its vast coasts in the past two centuries. As a result, this assumption fails to account for the possibility that these experiences are likely to reinforce China’s restrictive interpretations of innocent passage even if it achieves the status of maritime power.

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UK UNCLOS Inquiry: Is UNCLOS Fit for Protecting Human Rights at Sea? A Comment

One of the most contemporary challenges international law is facing today is protecting, monitoring, and enforcing human rights at sea. A recently launched House of Lords Inquiry in the United Kingdom examining the UNCLOS applicability in the 21st century is asking amongst other questions, how to address the contemporary challenge of monitoring and enforcing human rights law…

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