STRAITS USED FOR INTERNATIONAL NAVIGATION
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. The regime of passage through straits used for international navigation
established in this Part shall not in other respects affect the legal
status of the waters forming such straits or the exercise by the States
bordering the straits of their sovereignty or jurisdiction over such waters
and their air space, bed and subsoil.
Legal status of waters forming straits used for
2. The sovereignty or jurisdiction of the States bordering the straits is
exercised subject to this Part and to other rules of international law.
Nothing in this Part affects:
- any areas of internal waters within a strait, except where the
establishment of a straight baseline in accordance with the method
set forth in article 7 has the effect of enclosing as internal waters
areas which had not previously been considered as such;
- the legal status of the waters beyond the territorial seas of States
bordering straits as exclusive economic zones or high seas; or
- the legal regime in straits in which passage is regulated in whole or
in part by long-standing international conventions in force
specifically relating to such straits.
This Part does not apply to a strait used for international navigation if
there exists through the strait a route through the high seas or through an
exclusive economic zone of similar convenience with respect to navigational
and hydrographical characteristics; in such routes, the other relevant
Parts of this Convention, including the provisions regarding the freedoms
of navigation and overflight, apply.
High seas routes or routes through exclusive economic zones
through straits used for international navigation
SECTION 2. TRANSIT PASSAGE
This section applies to straits which are used for international navigation
between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another
part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone.
Scope of this section
1. In straits referred to in article 37, all ships and aircraft enjoy the
right of transit passage, which shall not be impeded; except that, if the
strait is formed by an island of a State bordering the strait and its
mainland, transit passage shall not apply if there exists seaward of the
island a route through the high seas or through an exclusive economic zone
of similar convenience with respect to navigational and hydrographical
Right of transit passage
2. Transit passage means the exercise in accordance with this Part of the
freedom of navigation and overflight solely for the purpose of continuous
and expeditious transit of the strait between one part of the high seas or
an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an
exclusive economic zone. However, the requirement of continuous and
expeditious transit does not preclude passage through the strait for the
purpose of entering, leaving or returning from a State bordering the
strait, subject to the conditions of entry to that State.
3. Any activity which is not an exercise of the right of transit passage
through a strait remains subject to the other applicable provisions of this
1. Ships and aircraft, while exercising the right of transit passage,
(a) proceed without delay through or over the strait;
(b) refrain from any threat or use of force against the sovereignty,
territorial integrity or political independence of States bordering
the strait, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of
international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) refrain from any activities other than those incident to their normal
modes of continuous and expeditious transit unless rendered necessary
by force majeure or by distress;
(d) comply with other relevant provisions of this Part.
Duties of ships and aircraft during transit passage
2. Ships in transit passage shall:
(a) comply with generally accepted international regulations, procedures
and practices for safety at sea, including the International
Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea;
(b) comply with generally accepted international regulations, procedures
and practices for the prevention, reduction and control of pollution
3. Aircraft in transit passage shall:
(a) observe the Rules of the Air established by the International Civil
Aviation Organization as they apply to civil aircraft; state aircraft
will normally comply with such safety measures and will at all times
operate with due regard for the safety of navigation;
(b) at all times monitor the radio frequency assigned by the competent
internationally designated air traffic control authority or the
appropriate international distress radio frequency.
During transit passage, foreign ships, including marine scientific research
and hydrographic survey ships, may not carry out any research or survey
activities without the prior authorization of the States bordering straits.
Research and survey activities
1. In conformity with this Part, States bordering straits may designate sea
lanes and prescribe traffic separation schemes for navigation in straits
where necessary to promote the safe passage of ships.
Sea lanes and traffic separation schemes in straits used for
2. Such States may, when circumstances require, and after giving due
publicity thereto, substitute other sea lanes or traffic separation schemes
for any sea lanes or traffic separation schemes previously designated or
prescribed by them.
3. Such sea lanes and traffic separation schemes shall conform to generally
accepted international regulations.
4. Before designating or substituting sea lanes or prescribing or
substituting traffic separation schemes, States bordering straits shall
refer proposals to the competent international organization with a view to
their adoption. The organization may adopt only such sea lanes and traffic
separation schemes as may be agreed with the States bordering the straits,
after which the States may designate, prescribe or substitute them.
5. In respect of a strait where sea lanes or traffic separation schemes
through the waters of two or more States bordering the strait are being
proposed, the States concerned shall co-operate in formulating proposals in
consultation with the competent international organization.
6. States bordering straits shall clearly indicate all sea lanes and
traffic separation schemes designated or prescribed by them on charts to
which due publicity shall be given.
7. Ships in transit passage shall respect applicable sea lanes and traffic
separation schemes established in accordance with this article.
1. Subject to the provisions of this section, States bordering straits may
adopt laws and regulations relating to transit passage through straits, in
respect of all or any of the following:
Laws and regulations of States bordering straits
relating to transit passage
- the safety of navigation and the regulation of maritime traffic, as
provided in article 41;
- the prevention, reduction and control of pollution, by giving effect
to applicable international regulations regarding the discharge of
oil, oily wastes and other noxious substances in the strait;
- with respect to fishing vessels, the prevention of fishing, including
the stowage of fishing gear;
- the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person in
contravention of the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws
and regulations of States bordering straits.
2. Such laws and regulations shall not discriminate in form or in fact
among foreign ships or in their application have the practical effect of
denying, hampering or impairing the right of transit passage as defined in
3. States bordering straits shall give due publicity to all such laws and
4. Foreign ships exercising the right of transit passage shall comply with
such laws and regulations.
5. The flag State of a ship or the State of registry of an aircraft
entitled to sovereign immunity which acts in a manner contrary to such laws
and regulations or other provisions of this Part shall bear international
responsibility for any loss or damage which results to States bordering
User States and States bordering a strait should by agreement co-operate:
Navigational and safety aids and other improvements and the
prevention, reduction and control of pollution
- in the establishment and maintenance in a strait of necessary
navigational and safety aids or other improvements in aid of
international navigation; and
- for the prevention, reduction and control of pollution from ships.
States bordering straits shall not hamper transit passage and shall give
appropriate publicity to any danger to navigation or overflight within or
over the strait of which they have knowledge. There shall be no suspension
of transit passage.
Duties of States bordering straits
SECTION 3. INNOCENT PASSAGE
1. The regime of innocent passage, in accordance with Part II, section 3
shall apply in straits used for international navigation:
2. There shall be no suspension of innocent passage through such straits.
- excluded from the application of the regime of transit passage under
article 38, paragraph 1; or
- between a part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and the
territorial sea of a foreign State.
Convention on the Law of the Sea: Index