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The legal status of the Philippine Treaty Limits and territorial waters claim in international law: national and international legal perspectives

02/2008; 5.

ABSTRACT The fundamental position of the Philippines regarding the extent of its territorial and maritime boundaries is based on two contentious premises: first, that the limits of its national territory are the boundaries laid down in the Treaty of Paris which ceded the Philippines from Spain to the United States; and second, that all the waters embraced within these delineated lines seaward of the baselines constitute its territorial waters.
The position of the Philippine Government is contested in the international community and runs against rules in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the Philippines signed and ratified. This situation poses two fundamental unresolved issues of conflict: first, is the issue on the breadth of its territorial sea, and second, its treatment of supposed archipelagic waters as internal waters. The twin issues of the legal status of the Philippine Treaty Limits and its extensive historic claims to territorial waters have been subject of much academic debate and serious criticisms.
The delimitation of Philippine territorial and maritime boundaries in conformity with international law necessitates the reform of the existing national legal, policy and administrative framework to resolve fundamental issues of conflict between domestic legislation and international law. This thesis, proceeding from both a national and an international legal perspective, clarifies the legal status of the Philippine Treaty Limits and territorial waters claim in international law, with a view to facilitating such reforms.

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