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Durham University

IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Argentina and UK claims to maritime jurisdiction in the South Atlantic and Southern Oceans

South Atlantic maritime claims maps

The competing claims of Argentina and the United Kingdom to sovereignty over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands are well known. The two states also claim sovereignty over South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and a significant portion of the Antarctic continent - although claims south of 60° South are frozen under the terms of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.

Sovereignty over these territories gives rise to jurisdiction over the marine resources of vast areas of the South Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) coastal states may claim sovereign rights over the living and non-living resources of the sea and seabed in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending up to 200 nautical miles from their coastal baselines. Where the physical continental margin extends beyond 200 nautical miles, the states also have rights over the resources of the seabed to the outer limit of the continental shelf (subject to certain constraints defined in Article 76 of UNCLOS). The maps available for download from this page illustrate the extent of the jurisdictional claims of Argentina and the UK and highlight the degree of overlap between them. The area of overlap between the EEZ and continental shelf claims around the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands alone is more than 2.5 million square kilometres; the potential EEZ off disputed Antarctic territory (including the South Orkney Islands) is around 2.1 million square kilometres, and Argentina has identified a further 740,000 square kilometres of seabed as being part of the continental shelf of its claimed Antarctic territories.

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