India: Accession to Sea-bed Treaty

State India
Treaty Sea-bed Treaty
Action Type Accession
Depositary Government of the United States of America
Date 20 July 1973
Note

In depositing the instrument of accession to the Treaty by India, the Ambassador of India to Washington made a statement which reads as follows:

“On the occasion of its accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof, the Government of India would like to make the following statement of its position.

“2.  In accordance with its basic position – which is shared by a vast majority of States – that the exploration and exploitation of the seabed should be reserved for peaceful purposes and that serious efforts should be made to prevent an arms race on the seabed, the Government of India has supported the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil thereof.  The disclaimer clause contained in Article IV of the Seabed Treaty ensures that the position of any State Party on questions related to the law of the sea is not affected in any way.  It is important that nothing should be done through a seabed treaty in the field of disarmament which would prejudice or prejudge questions in regard to the law of the sea, nor should such a treaty affect adversely in any way the rights of coastal States on their continental shelves.  As a coastal State, India has, and always has had, full and exclusive sovereign rights over the continental shelf adjoining its territory and beyond its territorial waters and the subsoil thereof.  It is the considered view of India that other countries cannot use its continental shelf for military purposes.  There cannot, therefore, be any restriction on, or limitation of, the sovereign right of India as a coastal State to verify, inspect, remove or destroy any weapon, device, structure, installation or facility, which might be emplanted or emplaced on or beneath its continental shelf by any other country, or to take such other steps as may be considered necessary to safeguard its security.

“3.  The accession by the Government of India to the Seabed Treaty is based on this position.

“July 20, 1973.”

The views of the Government of the United States of America with regard to the Indian statement are contained in the Department of State’s note to the Indian Embassy in Washington, dated October 4, 1973, which reads as follows:

“The Acting Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of India and has the honor to refer to the statement made by the Ambassador on July 20, 1973, on the occasion of the deposit of the Government of India’s instrument of accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof, done at Washington, London, and Moscow on February 11, 1971.

“It is the understanding of the Government of the United States of America that the position of the Government of India expressed in the Ambassador’s statement is based on the premise that the Treaty does not affect the rights of States under existing international law with respect to activities not prohibited by the Treaty.  The Government of the United States concurs in this premise and takes the view that any and all rights existing under international law prior to the conclusion of the Treaty and not falling within its prohibitions remain unaffected.  Note is taken of the fifth preambular paragraph of the Treaty, which reads as follows:

‘Convinced that this Treaty will further the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, in a manner consistent with the principles of international law and without infringing the freedoms of the high seas, . . .’

“In addition, the Government of the United States wishes to state its view that under existing international law the rights of coastal States over their continental shelves are exclusive only for purposes of exploration and exploitation of natural resources, and are otherwise limited by the 1958 Convention on the Continental Shelf and other principles of international law.

“In performance of the depositary duties of the Government of the United States of America under the Seabeds Treaty, the Department of State has transmitted the text of the Ambassador’s statement of July 20, 1973 to the States signatory and acceding to the Treaty at Washington.  Accordingly, similar circulation is being given to the present note.”

By a note from the Embassy of India in Washington, dated January 30, 1974, the Government of India reiterated its position as stated at the time of accession.  The text of the note reads as follows:

“The Embassy of India presents its compliments to the Department of State and has the honour to refer to the note dated 4 October 1973 from the Acting Secretary of State, regarding the statement made by the Representative of the Government of India on 20 July 1973 on the occasion of the deposit of the Government of India’s Instrument of Accession to the ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the Sub-soil Thereof’ done at Washington, London and Moscow on 11 February 1971.

“The position of the Government of India regarding the nature of rights enjoyed by a coastal State on and in relation to its continental shelf has already been explained in its statement of 20 July 1973.  In the view of the Government of India, the position expressed in that statement conforms to international law.  It is, therefore, the belief of the Government of India that no other State can use the continental shelf of a coastal State for military purposes or in any other manner as might affect the security or sovereign rights of the coastal State on its continental shelf and its resources.

“It is requested that this note may please be circulated by the United States as a Depositary State to all the States signatory and acceding to the Treaty.

“The Embassy of India avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Department of State the assurances of its highest consideration.”

 The Department of State’s note, dated June 7, 1974, re-states the views of the Government of the United States of America and reads as follows:

“The Department of State refers to note No. WAS/POL/161/7/73 of January 30, 1974 from the Embassy of India with reference to the statement made by the Ambassador of India on the occasion of the deposit on July 20, 1973 of the instrument of accession by the Government of India to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof, which was done at Washington, London and Moscow on February 11, 1971.

“The views of the Government of the United States of America on this matter remain as previously stated in the Acting Secretary of State’s note to the Ambassador of India dated October 4, 1973.

“In the performance of the depositary duties of the Government of the United States of America under the Treaty, the Department of State is circulating the Embassy’s note of January 30, 1974, as well as the Department’s present note to the Embassy of India.”

Other Actions Accession on deposit with London — 20 July 1973
Accession on deposit with Moscow — 20 July 1973