Document Type



The evolution of the law of the sea has been shaped largely by two notions, namely, freedom of navigation on the one hand, and restricted access on the other hand. The interaction between these two opposing notions has led to the acceptance of two compromise concepts, namely, the territorial sea and the right of innocent passage. These concepts have now been codified in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This paper examines the right of innocent passage in the territorial sea under the Law of the Sea Convention regime as matched against contemporary state practice. It would appear that many coastal states prefer the restriction of this right – seemingly infringing what the Convention stands for. It is submitted that states should restructure their policies and regulations to conform to their assumed obligations under the Convention.

Date of Authorship for this Version

October 2005


United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Innocent passage