British Tanker Captured for Violating TSS, UNCLOS, Innocent Passage: Int’l Lawyer

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An international lawyer described the seizure of a British oil tanker by Iran as legal, noting that the UK’s “Stena Impero” was captured for violating the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and provisions of Innocent Passage.

British Tanker Captured for Violating TSS, UNCLOS, Innocent Passage: Int’l Lawyer

“The ‘Stena Impero’ oil tanker: A. Violated the TRAFFIC SEPARATION SCHEME or TSS, a maritime traffic-management route-system ruled by the International Maritime Organization or IMO, while in the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters. B. Violated the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, while in the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters.C. Violated the ... provisions of Innocent Passage,” Alfred Lambremont Webre told Tasnim.

Webre was born at the US Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, USA, is a US and Canadian dual citizen. He is an author, International lawyer (a member of the District of Columbia Bar), futurist, peace activist, environmental activist, and a space activist who promotes the ban of space weapons. He was a co-architect of the Space Preservation Treaty and the Space Preservation Act that was introduced to the U.S. Congress by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and is endorsed by more than 270 NGO's worldwide. A graduate of Yale Law School who has taught at Yale University [Economics Department] and the University of Texas (Government Dept - Constitutional Law), Webre helped draft the Citizen Hearing in 2000 with Stephen Bassett and serves as a member of the Board of Advisors. Webre was a Judge on the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal that found UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and US President George W. Bush, VP Richard B. Cheney, and SECDEF Donald H. Rumsfeld guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo, Cuba, and Israel guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Palestine 1948-2013.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: Britain’s “Stena Impero” oil tanker was captured by Iranian military forces for three cases of violation of the maritime law when it was passing through the high-traffic Strait of Hormuz on Friday evening. The UK vessel had switched off its GPS locator, in contravention of international regulations, and was sailing into the Strait of Hormuz in a wrong traffic pattern. The British tanker was entering the strait from the southern route which is an exit path, increasing the risk of an accident. Moreover, Stena Impero had not heeded any of the warnings from the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization. How do you, as an international lawyer, see this from a legal perspective? UK officials have described the capture of the tanker by Iran as “illegal”. Do you believe so?

Webre: Based on the statement of facts by the Strait of Hormuz Maritime Authority, and taking into account the below-stated possible external political interference with normal maritime shipping practices through the Strait of Hormuz, we conclude that

(1) The “Stena Impero” oil tanker:

A. Violated the TRAFFIC SEPARATION SCHEME or TSS, a maritime traffic-management route-system ruled by the International Maritime Organization or IMO, while in the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters.

B. Violated the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, while in the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters.

C. Violated the following provisions of INNOCENT PASSAGE:

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.[1]

while in the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters.

(2) Allegations of Acts of Piracy by the MARITIME AUTHORITY OF THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ in Iranian Territorial Waters

UNITED NATIONS LAW OF THE SEA

Article 101

Definition of piracy

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

61

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of

depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the

passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or

against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place

outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or

of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or

aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act

described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

CONCLUSION - Based on the above set of facts and exacerbating circumstances, we conclude that:

No Acts of Piracy were committed by the Maritime Authority governing passage of The “Stena Impero” oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters as regulated by the TRAFFIC SEPARATION SCHEME, the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS), and INNOCENT PASSAGE.

1. Legal Navigation through the Strait of Hormuz - All ships, including the “Stena Impero” oil tanker, navigating through the Strait of Hormuz are subject to the:

(1) Traffic Separation Scheme, and

(2) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

as they pass through the territorial waters of Iran and of Oman.

The nations involved in this case (UK and USA) have accepted the terms of these rules of navigation.

References:

A. TRAFFIC SEPARATION SCHEMEor TSS is a maritime traffic-management route-system ruled by the International Maritime Organization or IMO. The traffic-lanes (or clearways) indicate the general direction of the ships in that zone; ships navigating within a TSS all sail in the same direction or they cross the lane in an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible.

TSS's are used to regulate the traffic at busy, confined waterways or around capes. Within a TSS there is normally at least one traffic-lane in each main-direction, turning-points, deep-water lanes and separation zones between the main traffic lanes. Most TSS schemes include 'inshore traffic zones' between the traffic-lanes and the coast. The inshore traffic zone is unregulated and is not intended to be used for through traffic but rather for local traffic, fishing and small craft. A ship navigating in a traffic-lane should sail in the general direction of that lane. The body of water between two opposite lanes is to be avoided by vessels traveling within the TSS as far as possible except in certain circumstances such as emergencies or for fishing activities. Where needed there are special zones where a lane splits into two channels: one ongoing and the other to the nearby port(s).

The TSS rules are incorporated in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Under Part B, Section I, Rule 10- Traffic Separation Schemes). An individual TSS is controlled by a vessel traffic service.

B. UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties. UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to ratify the treaty.[1] As of June 2016, 167 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention. It is uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.

While the Secretary-General of the United Nations receives instruments of ratification and accession and the UN provides support for meetings of states party to the Convention, the UN has no direct operational role in the implementation of the Convention. There is, however, a role played by organizations such as the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission, and the International Seabed Authority (ISA). (The ISA was established by the UN Convention.)

C. INNOCENT PASSAGEis a concept in the law of the sea that allows for a vessel to pass through the territorial waters of another state, subject to certain restrictions. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Article 19 defines innocent passage as:

1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

(e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

(f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

(i) any fishing activities;

(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

Innocent passage concedes the coastal country's territorial sea claim, unlike freedom of navigation, which directly contests it.

The law was codified in 1958 and affirmed in 1982.

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