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United States Of America

Volume 928: debated on Thursday 17 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any of the treaties or agreements currently in force between Her Majesty's Government and the United States of America contain provisions which would permit the treaties or agreements not to apply to any of the States composing the United States of America; and what recourse to international law exists under such treaties in the event of a dispute.

International law, reflected in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, provides that a party to a treaty may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty, and that unless a different intention appears from the treaty or is otherwise established, a treaty is binding upon each party in respect of its entire territory. No provisions showing an intention to negate this presumption in regard to individual States of the United States of America have been discovered in bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom and the United States, but there are hundreds of bilateral and multilateral agreements in force between the two States and it is not practicable to examine all of their provisions in detail. Many of these international agreements contain special provision for arbitration or adjudication of disputes. Where there are no special provisions it might under certain circumstances be possible to refer a dispute to the International Court of Justice, or the parties could agree on some other method of resolving the dispute.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what notification has been received, and when, from the United States Government of the extension by (a) the United States of America and (b) any of its States of exclusive fishing limits to 200 miles; and whether any proposals have been made by the USA or any of its States to extend exclusively beyond or to reduce it below 200 miles.

On 23rd April 1976 the British Embassy in Washington was formally notified that the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (PL94–265) had been signed by the President on 13th April 1976. The Act with effect from 1st March 1977 created a fishery conservation zone extending to 200 nautical miles from the baseline of the territorial sea, and provided for exclusive United States fishery management authority beyond that zone for all anadromous species originating in the United States and all United States Continental Shelf fishery resources.On 1st March 1977 the United States Government published the geographic co-ordinates of the outer limit of the fishery conservation zone around the United States and its territories and possessions, including a provisional limit where the establishment of the zone creates maritime boundaries with other countries and territories, including some United Kingdom Dependent Territories.