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contiguous zone

  An area of the high sea, beyond the territorial sea, and extending up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline delimiting the internal waters of a state and within which it may apply customs and other national regulations. The zone was first defined in the 1958 UN Convention on the Territorial Sea and the contiguous zone as extending up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline, but this was replaced by the present definition under the 1982 third UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which eventually came into force in 1994. At the time the convention was being drawn up, there was some debate as to whether it was still necessary to define a contiguous zone. It was eventually decided to retain it, because of its importance for states when enforcing their domestic law, even against foreign vessels, although the concept has little standing in international law (see law of the sea). (MB)  



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