Concerning the approach which has been adopted with respect to the information regarding the continental shelf, the following is to be noted:
The Convention on the Continental Shelf which was adopted in Geneva on 29 April 1958 (“the 1958 Geneva Convention”) defines the term “continental shelf” as: (a) the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 metres or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said areas; and (b) the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coasts of islands.
Under the provisions of article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (“the 1982 Convention”), the continental shelf extends up to the outer edge of the continental margin, or up to 200 nautical miles where the outer edge does not extend up to 200 nautical miles, or up to
the line of delimitation.
The table reflects the fact that, under international law, the rights of a coastal State over the shelf do not depend on occupation, effective or notional, or on any express proclamation. However, in a number of cases, discrepancies seem to exist between the limits as reflected in the national legislation, originally based on the 1958 Geneva Convention, and the entitlements of States Parties under the 1982 Convention. That Convention, pursuant to its article 311, paragraph 1,
prevails, as between States Parties, over the 1958 Geneva Convention. As it appears, certain States that became States Parties to the 1982 Convention have not yet completed the process of harmonization of their national legislation with its provisions. However, the entitlement of coastal States to their respective continental shelves up to the limit allowed by international law is not affected.
In this connection, it has also to be noted that, under current international law of the sea and all legal aspects considered, the outer limits of the continental shelf would extend, in most cases, up to 200 nautical miles or up to the line of maritime delimitation. Regarding the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, States Parties to the 1982 Convention need to make a submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in order to seek its recommendation. A considerable number of submissions have already been made and a number of other States Parties are in the process of preparing such submissions, many of them having submitted preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, pursuant to SPLOS/183 – Decision regarding the workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the ability of States, particularly developing States, to fulfil the requirements of article 4 of Annex II to the Convention, as well as the decision contained in SPLOS/72, paragraph (a).
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