Constitutional amendment to increase States territorial waters
A resolution proposing an amendment to Palau’s Constitution Article 1 Section 1 as amended by Twenty-Sixth Amendment, be placed on the ballot in the November 2020 General Election, was introduced in both houses of OEK.
The proposed amendment will correct several inaccuracies or unclear statements used in the Twenty-Sixth Amendment on Palau’s territorial boundaries.
Current language states in part, “Palau shall have jurisdiction over its territory which shall consist of the…extending over two hundred nautical miles from a straight archipelagic baseline”.
Part of the proposed language removes straight archipelagic baseline and just states, “The Republic of Palau shall have jurisdiction and sovereignty over its territories which shall consist of all the islands, atolls, reefs and shall that have traditionally been in the Palauan archipelago…”
The Committee on Continental Shelf stated that by removing the word “straight”, the Constitution will accurately reflect people’s own understanding of Palau’s boundary. By removing the phrase straight archipelagic baseline and replacing it with just archipelagic baseline will ensure that Palau captures the reefs, shoals and other features and therefore, and expand some of the States territorial waters.
The proposed amendment will not expand Palau’s national territorial waters but would expand some of the States territorial waters. For example, with current definition, the waters between Helen Reef and Hatohobei is not technically State of Hatohobei waters even though Helen Reef is. By changing the definition, the traditional and historical understanding of the water territory of Hatohobei will be accurately reflected in the Constitution.
Similarly, some of the States on the west coast of Babeldaob territorial water as they understand it, will be accurately reflected with the proposed language amendment in the national Constitution. (L.N. Reklai)