Denial of innocent passage–could this be a trend?

In a move to isolate the British on the Falklands (Malvinas), the Argentines are requiring vessels bound to or from the Falklands through their EEZ to obtain prior approval. Recently a Spanish vessel was denied the right of innocent passage from the waters off the Falklands to Uruguay, because they had not formally requested permission a week ahead as required by Argentina’s “decree 256.” Argentine restrictions are hurting businesses in both Uruguay and Chile (as well as Argentina).

As noted earlier, this is not the first incidence of a coastal state requiring notice of transit. The Canadians want vessels to ask permission to transit the North West Passage. The Chinese are claiming sovereignty over virtually all of the South China Sea, talking as if it were territorial sea. The Coast Guard initiated the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and it is only useful if it covers ships transiting the EEZ as well as those going to US ports.

Perhaps it is inevitable that when a state assumes the authority to demand notification of passage though the EEZ, it will also occasionally exercise the “right” to deny passage, but this is the first time I have heard of it happening.

(In a related move, as a sign of solidarity with Argentina, Uruguay rescinded permission for a Montevideo port visit by a Royal Navy Destroyer en route to the Falklands only hours before its scheduled arrival.)

4 thoughts on “Denial of innocent passage–could this be a trend?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Denial of innocent passage–could this be a trend? - --

  2. The US Naval Institute has an article about the standoff over the Falklands in the October 2010 issue. It’s available on line here:

    The author reports a conversation with the British Commodore commanding in the Falklands. I thought this comment was particularly nice.

    “As an aside I asked the commodore what types and levels of cooperation he would like to see between the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy. He replied, ‘The two navies are nearly indistinguishable. We work together hand-in-glove. Curiously, it’s your Coast Guard with which we’d like to have a closer relationship. They’re absolutely nonpareil mariners.'”

  3. A different view of the Law of the Sea Convention Convention:

    Clearly UNCLOS is open to interpretation and if the Canadians can interpret it differently from the US, not surprising the Chinese do. Don’t be surprised if much of the world is more sympathetic to the Chinese interpretation that grants more authority over waters adjacent to their coast. Most of the reset of the world does not see much benefit in having foreign warships loitering and exercising off their coasts.

  4. Pingback: Law of the Sea–Why not? -

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