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Contiguous zone

Definition The “contiguous zone” in military operations refers to the area of sea that extends beyond a country’s territorial sea, up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state. This zone allows the coastal state to exercise control to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary regulations within its territory […]

Definition

The “contiguous zone” in military operations refers to the area of sea that extends beyond a country’s territorial sea, up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state. This zone allows the coastal state to exercise control to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary regulations within its territory or territorial sea. It is primarily used for law enforcement purposes, such as anti-smuggling and immigration control.

Key Takeaways

  1. The contiguous zone is an area of sea adjacent to a country’s territorial sea. It extends from the edge of the territorial sea out to 24 nautical miles from the baseline.
  2. Within the contiguous zone, the coastal state can exercise control necessary to prevent and punish infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration, or sanitary regulations within its territory or territorial sea.
  3. While the contiguous zone allows a state some control, it is still considered to be part of the high seas, meaning it is not under the full sovereignty of the adjacent state.

Importance

The term “Contiguous Zone” is significant in military operations as it refers to the area of water that extends beyond a country’s territorial seas, usually about 24 nautical miles from the coastal baseline, which allows the country to exercise control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration, or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea.

In essence, within this zone, a country’s laws apply to prevent particular activities, like smuggling or unauthorized immigration, ensuring the country’s security and sovereignty.

Understanding this term is crucial for military strategists and naval forces in planning and executing their operations, while also respecting international maritime laws.

Explanation

The contiguous zone serves a significant purpose in terms of a nation’s security and legal jurisdiction, extending the area where a state can exert limited control for the purpose of preventing infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea.

It functions as a buffer zone to its territorial sea, and coastal nations are imbued with the right to act upon any vessel that aims to violate its laws before it enters their territorial waters.

Defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the contiguous zone can extend up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

Alongside this, countries are entitled to exercise control necessary to prevent and punish infringement of its laws and regulations committed within its territory or territorial sea.

Thus, the contiguous zone plays a significant role in national maritime control, helping nations protect their borders, regulate immigration and customs, and ensure overall maritime security.

Examples of Contiguous zone

North Korean Contiguous Zone Incident (2002): During this incident, a North Korean patrol boat crossed into South Korea’s contiguous zone, leading to clashes between the navies of both countries. This incident was a result of disagreement over the boundaries of the maritime territory, which clearly demonstrated how contiguous zones can become flashpoints for conflict.

Indonesia and Malaysian Maritime Border: There has been a long-standing dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia over their maritime borders, specifically the waters around the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, which falls into their contiguous zones. This has often resulted in clashes between the fishermen or the maritime forces of the two nations.

Somali Pirates Activity: The nefarious activities of Somali Pirates are a great example illustrating the importance of a nation’s contiguous zone. These pirates used to intrude into the contiguous zones of other countries like Yemen and Oman to hijack commercial vessels. This led to an international military response, led by the USA and several European nations, to ensure safety and security across these zones.

Frequently Asked Questions about Contiguous Zone

What is the Contiguous Zone?

The Contiguous Zone is an area of the sea that extends from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline, within which a state can exercise certain control ‘in order to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea’. This concept is recognized in international law.

How is the Contiguous Zone different from the Territorial Sea?

While the Territorial Sea extends up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state, within which the state can exercise sovereignty, the Contiguous Zone extends a further 12 nautical miles, up to a total of 24 nautical miles from the baseline, where the power of the state is limited to the control necessary to prevent and punish infringement of its laws.

What powers do a state have in the Contiguous Zone?

In the Contiguous Zone, a state has the power to exert control to prevent and punish infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea. This power, however, must be exercised in a manner consistent with the rights and freedoms of other states as provided in international law.

What is the legal basis for the Contiguous Zone?

The legal basis for the existence of the Contiguous Zone is provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which states have agreed to as a framework governing the rights and responsibilities of nations in regard to the world’s oceans.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Military Service
  • Foreign Waters
  • Combat Pay
  • Active Duty
  • Service-connected Disability

Sources for More Information

  • United Nations Official Website: The United Nations often has detailed explanations of geopolitical terms such as the contiguous zone. They may have official documents or articles that explain its significance in international law.
  • Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute: The LII provides free access to important legal texts from around the world. They also offer explanations for legal concepts and terms such as the contiguous zone.
  • National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: The NIAAA is a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. While it primarily deals with matters of alcohol abuse, it also offers a wide range of resources and explanations for related topics. A search for the contiguous zone may yield relevant information.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: The Encyclopedia Britannica offers comprehensive explanations for a huge range of topics. Their article on the contiguous zone may offer insights into its historical and current significance.

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