San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



As the law of the sea flourishes into an area ripe with legal conflict, the question of oil spill pollution and liability looms large. Shipping oil involves international business, with great potential fall-out. This Article reviews the unilateral and multilateral action taken by coastal nations, with much focus on intervention trends in international ocean policy. The claimants, claims, and objectives of intervention cannot be appraised without reviewing the customary and convention rights created under international law. Under customary international law, the right of intervention in international waters was primarily shaped through two incidents: the bombing of the Torrey Canyon and the Wafra. However, the current International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties codifies and clarifies the criteria for exercising the right of intervention together with those duties arising under the right. Through enacting legislation, this International Convention gives rise to statutory claims, which the article tests using Canadian, United States, and British claims. The article concludes by recommending an increased role of lawyers in developing the law of the sea.