The Italian gynecologist Severino Antinori recently made headlines with his announcement that he would carry out clone experiments in international waters if the legal systems in force there would not allow him to do so on land.
The question arises, therefore, what makes the high seas so interesting for Antinori.
The seas are of great interest to many countries: The transport of goods and the extraction of mineral resources are just two aspects that make the use of the sea particularly attractive.
In order to avoid conflicts between different states and to create generally applicable regulations on the use of the seas, the International Convention on the Law of the Sea divides all seas into different zones: Depending on which zone you are in, the right to the sea is determined by national regulations or by regulations of international law.
This avoids conflicts between different states. Should a dispute arise at sea, the international Maritime Tribunal based in Hamburg is responsible for the arbitration.
The respective national law of a state only applies at sea in the so-called 12-mile zone: Up to a distance of twelve nautical miles from the coast, these are national waters or the territory of the respective coastal state. However, even in this zone, national criminal law can only be exercised on foreign ships under certain conditions, e.g. if the interests of the coastal state are affected by the respective criminal law. This is particularly the case with drug trafficking.
The International Convention on the Law of the Sea also regulates a 200-mile zone, the so-called exclusive economic zone, in which a coastal state can have the right to exploit natural resources. In the so-called 350-mile zone, the production of oil and natural gas by the coastal states is permitted.
In these zones, both the regulations of the coastal states concerned and those of the International Convention on the Law of the Sea must be observed.
Outside the defined zones, on the high seas, there is the greatest freedom, because there no state has the right to exercise sovereignty. A ship is therefore only subject to the controls of the state under whose flag it is sailing. In practice, such controls are rare as it is usually easier to carry out at home or in a port of call.
Only rules of international law can restrict this freedom on the high seas.
According to this, police measures of other states are only permitted in exceptional cases in the case of certain serious offenses, such as Piracy, possible.
The high seas are therefore largely unlawful. Scientists like Antinori could also take advantage of this fact. Because by escaping to the high seas, national regulations such as a cloning ban could be circumvented and cloning attempts could be made with impunity.