Morocco updates its maritime legislation to UN standards

Morocco updates its maritime legislation to UN standards


The Moroccan Parliament unanimously adopted two bills aimed at establishing the Kingdom's legal authority over its entire maritime domain.

They are Bill No. 37.17 amending and supplementing the Dahir operating as Act No. 1.73.211 of 26 Muḥarram 1393 (2 March 1973) setting the limit of territorial waters, and Bill No. 38.17 amending and supplementing Act No. 1.81 establishing an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles off the coast of Morocco.

The Minister Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, underlined the great importance of the two texts in the context of the updating of the national legal instruments relating to the kingdom’s maritime borders.

The activation of the legislative procedure relating to the two draft laws takes place following the royal speech delivered on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Green March, in which the Sovereign stressed the need to assimilate the configuration of the entire territorial space of the Kingdom.

These high royal instructions Directives challenge us to address the legislative gap which marks the national legal arsenal governing maritime areas, and to adapt it to the full sovereignty of Morocco over its entire territory and territorial waters, as well as its air space, in line with the clear and the bold approach sought by HM King Mohammed VI as a basis for the Kingdom’s foreign policy", he pointed out.

Among the other considerations that led to the preparation of these two bills, the minister mentioned the updating of the national legal instruments relating to maritime areas, in order to complete the process of establishing the Kingdom's legal sovereignty over the whole of its maritime zones.

This approach is capable of more precisely determining the maritime zones placed under the sovereignty of the Kingdom, the minister said, adding that its width is calculated from baselines, over 12 miles for the territorial sea, 24 miles for the contiguous zone, 200 miles for the exclusive economic zone and 350 miles maximum for the continental shelf.

The elaboration of these two texts is also motivated by the willingness of conforming national laws with some international commitments and deadlines, he said, citing in this regard harmonization with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) and the repeal of certain provisions.

Decree n ° 311.75.2 of 1973 has been completely revised on the basis of scientific and geographical data relating to the “baselines” of the maritime zones beyond Cap Juby in Tarfaya, including the Atlantic maritime space along the coasts of the southern Provinces, Bourita said.

The delimitation of national maritime spaces is an internal matter and an act of sovereignty which refers to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. "The updating of national laws is part of the constructive and responsible interaction of our internal legal system with international law," he said, noting that this is, at the same time, an issue of international concern which could be subject to negotiations between the Kingdom and the States with bordering coasts, particularly neighboring Spain, which is considered as a strategic partner for Morocco thanks to the strong political, economic and historical bilateral relations.

Armed with its national rights, Morocco as a responsible state does not seek to unilaterally impose any fait accompli in the area of delimiting its maritime borders, he stressed.

Morocco will defend its rights, respect its commitments, remain open to the national positions of neighboring friendly countries and their legitimate rights, and will be ready for a constructive dialogue to achieve fair compromises on the basis of mutual interest, the minister concluded.