The Int’l Maritime Law within the Frameworks of Int’l Law of Sea

Byron Browne, Jr.

By  Byron Browne, Jr. / ID#:  GP 93510

Master’s Candidate at the Graduate School of Global Affairs and Policy,

Cuttington University

School of Graduate & Professional Studies.



This paper will discuss the concept of International Maritime Laws as relating to international law of Sea.  It will shed light on the protection of marine environment and its biodiversity. This paper also deals with International Maritime Organization to give a clear and better understanding of the maritime laws and operations. In recent years there has been a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea. Pirate attacks are a danger to the welfare of seafarers and the security of navigation and commerce.


In general, international law and local laws of State parties together determine maritime law. Some aspects, such as the registration of ships, are often handled by local laws of the country in question, but others, such as commercial issues, are covered by international maritime law. The customary law based on maritime common practice or both are the sources of international maritime law.

International Maritime Law:

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is a body of laws, conventions, and treaties that govern private maritime business and other nautical matters, such as shipping or offenses occurring on open water. International rules, governing the use of the oceans and seas, are known as the Law of the Sea. In most developed nations, admiralty law follows a separate code and is an independent jurisdiction from national laws. The United Nations (UN), through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has issued numerous conventions which will be enforced by the navies and coast guards of nations that have signed the treaty outlining these rules. Many insurance claims involving ships and cargo, civil disputes involving ship owners, crew members, and passengers, and piracy are governed by admiralty law. Conventions are frequently changed to reflect contemporary business practices and technological advancements. The registration, licensing, inspection, and marine insurance processes, as well as the transportation of goods and people, are also governed by admiralty law. The Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1948 and entered into force in 1958, is responsible for ensuring that current international maritime treaties are upheld as well as for developing new accords as and when necessary.  Besides, numerous conventions now govern every facet of maritime trade and transportation. The IMO identifies these three norms as its fundamental principles: The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch keeping for Seafarers; The International Convention for the Security of Life at Sea; The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

Specific Thoughts:

The nationality of a ship is determined by the country of registration. Many ships have their national registry in the nation where the owners reside and conduct business. Owners of ships frequently register them in nations that permit foreign registration. The foreign registration, often known as “flags of convenience,” is advantageous for tax planning and to take advantage of lax local restrictions.  According to data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence Fleet, Liberia is only 0.8% distant from Panama in terms of total DWT tonnage. Liberia is on track to reclaim the title of country with the largest flag, nearly 30 years after it lost it. Despite stagnating over the past several years and competitors quickly gaining, Liberia is on the rise. By the end of the next year, Liberia will pass Panama if the amazing comeback effort is successful. 

International Maritime Organization:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships. The IMO sets standards for the safety and security of international shipping. It oversees every aspect of worldwide shipping regulations, including legal issues and shipping efficiency.

The motto of the International Maritime Organization, “Safe, secure, and efficient transport on clean oceans,” perfectly captures its goals. Basically, the IMO sets policies for international shipping, encouraging innovation and efficiency while preventing shippers from compromising on safety, security, and environmental performance to accommodate financial concerns. The IMO also participates in legal concerns relating to international shipping, such as questions of compensation and liability, as well as the facilitation of international maritime transportation. The Assembly, the governing body of the IMO, which is composed of all 173 member states, typically convenes every two years. The Assembly discusses issues like choosing the work schedule and the budget. It also decides on council elections. There are five committees entrusted with formulating policies and developing, reviewing, and updating regulations and guidelines in order to divide the workload and guarantee that each area of concern of the IMO is receiving the attention it needs. The Technical Co-operation Committee, Maritime Safety Committee, Marine Environmental Protection Committee, Legal Committee, and Facilitation Committee are some of those committees. Additionally, these committees are supported by seven subcommittees. The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) are three such conventions.

Antiquity of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)

By way of an agreement ratified in Geneva in 1948, the IMO was founded. It initially met in 1959 after going into effect in 1958. As of September 2019, the IMO, which is headquartered in the UK, had 173 member states. Additionally, it has representatives from intergovernmental organizations (IGO) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the institutions that has been crucial to the IMO’s policy advancements. An IMO is also referred to as an independent marketing organization outside of shipping. This company markets its products by collaborating with insurance providers. Other marketing functions, such as distribution, may be part of an IMO’s responsibilities.

Overview: Sovereignty of the Seas

The liberty of the sea doctrine, which was proposed in the 17th century and basically restricted sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the oceans to a small sea belt encircling a nation’s shore, had long applied to the oceans. The remaining waters were deemed to belong to no one and be free for all. While this illustration persisted throughout the 20th century, there was a push to expand national claims over offshore resources by the middle of the century. Long-distance fishing fleets’ impact on coastal fish stocks and the threat of pollution and waste from transport ships and oil tankers carrying hazardous cargoes that sailed marine routes around the world were both causing significant worry. For seaside resorts, pollution was a constant concern.

Nautical Law of the Sea is a division of international law that addresses maritime law and order. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed on December 10, 1982, contains extensive codification of this law. A “constitution for the oceans,” the agreement aims to codify international law governing sea lanes, territorial waters, and ocean resources. It was ratified by the necessary 60 countries, and it entered into force in 1994. By the start of the twenty-first century, more than 150 nations had ratified the agreement.

The 1982 convention states that each nation’s sovereign territorial seas are limited to a distance of 12 nautical miles (22 km) from its coast, but that foreign vessels have the right of innocent passage across this area.

Safety of marine environment and biodiversity.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) works to safeguard oceans and seas and encourage the wise use of marine resources, particularly through its Regional Seas Program. The sole international legal foundation for Regional Ocean and sea protection is the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans. The Global Programmed of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities was also established by UNEP. The relationship between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems is directly addressed by it, which makes it the only international intergovernmental instrument to do so. Through the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organizes programs in marine research, observation systems, hazard mitigation, and better managing ocean and coastal ecosystems. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) plays a significant role in United

Components of Maritime laws
Maritime liens – While admiralty actions are frequently brought in persona, against only individual or corporate defendants, the proceeding in rem, against maritime property, that is, a vessel, a cargo, or “freight,” which in shipping refers to the compensation to which a carrier is entitled for the carriage of cargo, is the most distinctive feature of admiralty practice. The ship is personified to such an extent under American maritime law that it may occasionally be held accountable in situations when the ship-owner himself is not liable. The “compulsory pilotage” situation is a prime illustration of personification. When a ship fails to take a pilot when entering or departing a state’s waters, certain state statutes charge the ship owner. Maritime liens may develop as a negligent collision, personal injury, salvage services, general average contributions, and breach of specific marine contracts, among other things. The vessel, cargo, or freight may be impounded during an action in rem and held in the court’s care unless the owner secures its release by posting a bond or other form of security that the court may permit or that the plaintiff may require. However, more often than not, the owner will erect security in order to avoid being threatened with arrest, and the property is never taken into custody.


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was ratified on December 10, 1982, codifies the law of the sea and addresses public order at sea. It offers guidelines and norms that support preserving safety and tranquility when using the sea. The law lays forth a detailed set of guidelines that divides the oceanic region into five maritime zones and establishes a distance restriction of 12 nautical miles for coastal governments to exercise their sovereignty without running afoul of one another. With the aid of the international tribunal for the law of the sea, it seeks to settle the matter amicably.

Note: This essay was submitted to Dr. Mory Sumaworo (Ph.D.), a lecturer at Cuttington University Graduate School of Global Affairs and Policy as a part of the Components of the International Law Course.

 References 2. %20Sea 3. 4.,the%20Law%20of%20the.

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