The legal status of the Gulf of Sirte in international law.
In 1973 Libya claimed the Gulf of Sirte. Its claim was
based on historic and vital interests and it stated that the
Gulf was part of Libyan internal waters over which Libya
exerts full sovereignty and that the Gulf was an historic or
The thesis analyses the Libyan historic and/or vital bay
claim over the Gulf. Although the doctrine of historic and/or
vital bays is not codified, it is not a new doctrine in
international law. It is argued that, as an exception to the
general rules on bays, the coastal State has the right, by
virtue of historic and vital interests, to claim and
appropriate a bay adjacent to its coast.
Chapter one deals with the scope of the research
including the legal significance of the claim to Libya. The
chapter discusses the methodology used and reviews the 1973
Declaration and international reaction to it, including the
US-Libyan incidents. The geographical and historical
background of the Gulf of sirte are also reviewed.
In chapter two the evolution of the concepts of bays,
historic bays and waters in international law are discussed.
The chapter deals with definitional issues, the evolution and
codification of the law of bays, and assess the law applicable
in the field of historic and/or vital bays, and the requirements
of customary international law.
Chapter three analyses the Libyan immemorial usage and
the effective Libyan exercise of sovereignty over the Gulf of
sirte. Chapter four discusses the concept of acquiescence and whether there has been international acquiescence in the
Libyan claim. Chapter five deals with the concept of protest
and its application to the Libyan claim. It analyses the
protests made at the Libyan claim and discusses a number of
the protests made by States which have made similar claims to
that of Libya. The issue of re~!procity is examined prior to
detailed consideration and evaluation of the protests.
Chapter six discusses the vital bay theory in a theoretical
context, in state practice and its implementation by the
tribunals. It also analyses the Libyan vital interest9s in the
Gulf of Sirte and assesses the Libyan vital bay claim.
Finally, chapter seven provides an overview of the Libyan
historic and vital bay claim over the Gulf of sirte in a
regional framework and in the context of the changing law of
the sea. Proposals are made concerning the formulation of new
rules when necessary on the codification of existing rules,
on State practice and emerging trends relating to historic
and/or vital bays. It is recommended that special attention
should be given to the legitimate and genuine interests and
needs of coastal States and the proposals made by Developing
States in this regard.