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section heading icon     seas

This page considers activity on the seas as a point of reference for understanding cyberspace. It covers -

There is a supplementary note on the maritime industry, highlighting general studies and works on particular shipping lines and shipyards.

subsection heading icon     introduction

The seas, the air and outer space have been portrayed as paradigms for cyberspace - areas of excitement (and boredom), commercial opportunity, political opportunism, danger, international conflict and global rulemaking of varying effectiveness.

William Langewiesche echoes laments about the net in warning that

The sea is a domain increasingly beyond government control, vast and wild, where laws of nations mean little and secretive shipowners do as they please - and where the resilient pathogens of piracy and terrorism flourish.

Rhetoric about seafaring anticipates that about the net. In 1877 for example German author Ernst Kapp lauded the steamship as the "vehicle of universal communication" and as "the mediator of human omnipresence throughout the globe", something that brought peple together, fostered commerce and enriched culture.

subsection heading icon     sealanes

As points of entry see Philip de Souza's Seafaring and Civilisation: Maritime Perspectives on World History (London: Profile 2001) and Helen Rozwadowski's Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and
Exploration of the Deep Sea
(Cambridge: Belknap Press 2005).

For the shipping container, an essential element of contemporary logistics, see Marc Levinson's The Box (Princeton: Princeton Uni Press 2006), supplemented by Brian Cudahy's Box Boats: How Container Shipping Changed the World (New York: Fordham Uni Press 2006) and the journalistic The Box That Changed the World: Fifty Years of Container Shipping - An Illustrated History (East Windsor: CBM 2006) by Arthur Donovan & Joseph Bonney. Frank Broeze argued in The Globalization of the Oceans (St John's: International Maritime Economic History Association 2002) that

Containerization provides a prime example of revolutionary economic and social change caused by the introduction of a new technology. Like a juggernaut carried forward by its own momentum, it moved inexorably through the industry. ... Its ultimate creation was the first-ever integrated global logistics system.

Points of entry to the literature on economics and restructuring include International Maritime Transport: Perspectives (London: Routledge 2005) edited by Heather Leggate & James McConville, Globalisation, Policy and Shipping: Fordism, Post-Fordism and the European Union Maritime Sector (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2004) edited by Evangelia Selkou, The Merchant Marine in International Affairs, 1850-1950 (London: Frank Cass 2000) edited by Greg Kennedy and Shipping and Ports in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Technological Change and the Environment (London: Routledge 2004) by David Pinder & Brian Slack.

For passenger traffic see in particular Philip Dawson's The Liner: Retrospective & Renaissance (London: Conway Maritime 2005)

subsection heading icon     warfare

As a point of entry see John Keegan's The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare (New York: Viking 1988), Jeremy Black's The British Seaborne Empire (New Haven: Yale Uni Press 2004), Carlo Cipolla's Guns and Sails in the Early Phase of European Expansion, 1400-1700 (London: Collins 1965), William Thompson's On Global War: Historical-Structural Approaches to World Politics (Columbia: Uni of South Carolina Press 1988).

subsection heading icon     the state, economy and industrial policy

Andrew Gibson & Arthur Donovan's The Abandoned Ocean: A History of United States Maritime Policy (Columbia: Uni of South Carolina Press 2000).

For piracy and the early modern state see Marcus Rediker's Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (Boston: Beacon Press 2004) and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1987), Peter Linebaugh's The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (London: Verso 2000), Bandits at Sea: A Pirates Reader (New York: New York Uni Press 2001) edited by C R Pennell and Peter Leeson's 2007 An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization (PDF). The outstanding work on an earlier epoch in the West is Piracy in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1999) by Philip De Souza.

Questions of whether government indifference and capture of the IMO by commercial interests has resulted in a regulatory and alas sometimes literal race to the bottom are highlighted in William Langewiesche's The Outlaw Sea: Chaos & Crime on the World's Oceans (New York: North Point Press 2004), M R Brooks' Sea Change in Liner Shipping: Regulation and Managerial Decision-Making in a Global Industry (London: Pergamon 2000), Flagging Standards : Globalization and Environmental, Safety, and Labor Regulations at Sea (Cambridge: MIT Press 2006) by Elizabeth DeSombre and Voyages of Abuse: Seafarers, Human Rights and International Shipping (London: Pluto Press 1999) by AD Couper, CJ Walsh, BAStanberry & GL Boerne.

subsection heading icon     international law

The emergence of maritime (aka admiralty), aviation and space law provides a model for the development of the 'law of cyberspace'.

That is because it has accommodated expectations about behaviour (including piracy and cannibalism), commercial relationships, the role of the state, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and questions of jurisdiction. Over the past century there has been interest in development and maintenance of universal rules that open the lines of maritime transport and assure a level playing field for international shipping firms.

Examples of questions that have been successfully addressed include what is the legal framework for activity on the high seas, ie beyond the jurisdiction of a particular nation and potentially involving participants from several countries?

Admiralty law consists of the rules and principles that govern the legal relationships arising from transport of goods and passengers on the high seas and other navigable waters.

As an introduction see The Law Of The Sea (Manchester: Manchester Uni Press 1999) by Robin Churchill & Vaughan Lowe and Ram Prakash Anand's Origin & Development of the Law of the Sea: History of International Law Revisited (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1983) For the US see Thomas Schoenbaum's exhaustive Admiralty & Maritime Law (St Paul: West Publishing 1994). For boundaries see David Attard's The exclusive economic zone in international law (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1987) and Nikos Papadakis' The international legal regime of artificial islands (Leyden: Sijthoff 1977). Works regarding supposed 'virtual states' such as Minerva and Sealand are highlighted here.

Freedom of the seas is explored in Francis Ngantcha's The right of innocent passage and the evolution of international law of the sea: the current regime of "free" navigation in coastal waters of third states (London: Pinter 1990) and Edgar Gold's Maritime transport: the evolution of international marine policy and shipping law (Lexington: Lexington Books 1981).

For safety see The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea (London: Little Brown 2006) by Nicolette Jones.

Salient international instruments about passage, safety at sea and pollution include -

  • Declaration Respecting Maritime Law (Certain Regulations for Sea Warfare), 1856
  • International Convention for Adapting to Maritime Warfare the Principles of The Geneva Convention of 22 August 1864, 1896
  • International Convention Relative to Certain Restrictions on the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Maritime War (Hague XI), 1907
  • International Convention Relative to the Conversion of Merchant-Ships into War-Ships (Hague VII), 1907
  • International Convention Relative to the Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines (Hague VIII), 1907
  • International Convention Respecting Bombardments by Naval Forces in Time of War (Hague IX), 1907
  • International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Respecting Assistance and Salvage at Sea, 1910
  • International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Respecting Collisions Between Vessels, 1910
  • International Radiotelegraph Convention, 1912
  • Convention, Statute and Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Regime of Navigable Waterways of International Concern, 1921
  • Declaration Recognising the Right to a Flag of States having no Sea-Coast, 1921
  • Convention and Statute on the International Regime of Maritime Ports, 1923
  • International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading (The Hague Rules), 1924
  • Agreement Respecting Facilities to be Given to Merchant Seamen for the Treatment of Venereal Disease, 1924
  • International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to Penal Jurisdiction in Matters of Collision or Other Incidents of Navigation, 1952
  • International Convention on Certain Rules concerning Civil Jurisdiction in Matters of Collision, 1952
  • International Convention Relating to the Arrest of Sea-Going Ships, 1952
  • International Convention Relating to the Limitation of Liability of Owners of Sea-Going Ships, 1957
  • Agreement Relating to Refugee Seamen, 1957
  • Convention of Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, 1958
  • Convention on the Continental Shelf, 1958
  • Convention on the High Seas, 1958
  • Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, 1958
  • Optional Protocol of Signature Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes Arising from the Law of the Sea Convention of 29 April 1958, 1958
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960 [SOLAS Convention]
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1960
  • International Convention on Load Lines, 1966
  • International Convention of Tonnage Measurements of Ships, 1969
  • International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969
  • International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969
  • Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters, 1972
  • Protocol Relating to Refugee Seamen, 1973
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), 1973
  • Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Pollution by Substances other than Oil, 1973
  • Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences, 1974
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974
  • Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974
  • Convention on the International Maritime Satellite Organisation, 1976
  • International Convention of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978
  • International Convention of Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982
  • International Convention on Salvage, 1989

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version of July 2007
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