Copyright (c) 1993 Virginia Journal of International Law Association
Virginia Journal of International Law
The Customary Right of Hot Pursuit Onto the High Seas: Annotations to Article 111 of the Law of the Sea Convention
33 Va. J. Int'l L. 557
By Robert C. Reuland *
The right of hot pursuit is today firmly established in the law of nations. A state may, as a general proposition, pursue and seize a non-national vessel suspected of having committed a delict within the state's maritime jurisdictional zones where the vessel flees to the high seas to avoid arrest. The right of hot pursuit is an exception to the general rule that a ship on the high seas is subject only to the jurisdiction of the state whose flag she flies. The right of hot pursuit is codified in the two comprehensive conventions on the law of the sea and enjoys all the sanction of modern state practice and opinion.
Although the general parameters of the right of hot pursuit are not controversial, the proper exercise of the right is less clear in circumstances that do not fall neatly within the black letter rule. The inadequacies and ambiguities on the margins result mainly from a lack of considered state practice and relevant case law. Simply put, the right of hot pursuit is rarely exercised. The dearth of practical application and judicial consideration of the right stifles its development at the outer edges, leaving a core of general axioms - and not much else.
In this Article, I shall address the right of hot pursuit as codified in the recent sea conventions and as practiced by states. In doing so, I shall point out several important ambiguities of the black letter law and suggest some possible approaches ...
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