I propose to answer Questions Nos. 99, 100 and 101 together. The Law of the Sea Convention — LOSC — was done at Montego Bay on 10 December 1982 and entered into force internationally on 16 November 1994. It deals comprehensively with a large number of maritime law issues and sets out an international legal regime on subjects which include the delimitation of the various maritime zones, the delimitation of the national continental shelf, the exploitation of the deep sea-bed and various issues of environmental concern. It constitutes one of the most significant acts of consolidation of international law — that is, the setting out in convention form of hitherto dispersed and frequently unclear rules on a particular topic or set of topics — ever accomplished by the international community. Ireland ratified the Convention earlier this year and has been bound by its provisions since 21 July 1996. There are at present 104 States party to the Convention. The advantages of a convention-based legal regime on the sea are universally recognised, and are particularly attractive for maritime countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom. Of relevance also is the fact that the European Union as such also intends to become a party to the Convention in the near future.
The issue of Rockall has in the past been a source of some public legal and political controversy in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Much of that controversy was due to unresolved fears on either side regarding the division as between the two countries in the sea area around that rock or skerry. In particular, jurisdiction over Rockall — the claim by the United Kingdom which is contested by Ireland — was thought to be central to the mineral rights in the adjacent seabed, as well as to national fishing rights in the surrounding seas.