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Sunset Sea Islands

The Laws of the Sea

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The Rihannsu, though not participants in the earlier Thalassian War, they were still recovering from the effects it had placed on their maritime trade. The conflict had forced many traders to sail the long way round, sparking anger and frustration among the aristocracy over the lack of luxuries as supplies would run out. It had also put a strain on the Republic's finances as the extensive trade diversions had lowered the profits that the Trade Corporation would have been able to make on selling the nation's wares. These challenges, however, would lead to some to prompt an invasion of Enolia, to the southeast, as a means of not just diverting attention to the economic situation but give the Republic a better position in international commence.

At the time, none of this was so clear. Praetor Mrian was in power at this moment in time and knew that while the Republic's Expansionist Period was slowing down, it did not mean that they were going to be isolated on the foreign policy stage. He had received the word from the Sunset Sea Islands that a conference concerning the Laws of the Sea was to be discussed, drafted, and ratified. Recognizing the Republic's role as one of importance, he would dispatch Ninson, one of his loyalists in the Senate, to represent Rihannsu interests. He and his family, the latter of whom had never left Rihan (as was the case for many at this period in time), would couple this with a larger international trip. The group would sail to the islands on the Araram, a swift trading ship. Also, three members of the Republican Trade Corporation would accompany him.

The voyage was largely uneventful though Ninson's wife had several bouts of seasickness due to some choppy waters from a weather front passing into the region from Marenesia. The Rihannsu ship and her passengers entered the harbor of Sunset City and saw the Faramanian vessel already docked. The harbormaster directed them to the quay and they were met by the King of the Islands, Tomasso. Over the trip, Ninson had prepared for this meeting, and what to say to Tomasso.

The gangway was set up and the passengers disembarked, Ninson in front. "It is an honor and a privilege to be here. I think we will get much accomplished at this session and once and for all settle one of the largest questions befalling the world. I look forward to the impending discussions." 

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The Kipanese had suffered greatly in the Thalassian War, the Emperor had been persuaded by the major conglomerates that dominated the economy -- many precursors to today's Keiretsus -- to join the war alongside Mat Troi Lan in the name of bringing a great co-prosperity sphere over all of Thalassia. As a gesture of goodwill and future cooperation, the Emperor ceded its resource-rich colonies that had been gained generations before the conflict. This had the unintended consequence in eliminating Kipanese naval projection in the waters of the region. Diplomatic relations between Kipan and the islands of the Sunset Sea turned cold with Lan's removal and neither chain had truly conversed from that point, until now. Kipanese relations with much of the world was also equally frosty.

Emperor Aku was seated in the Imperial Palace upon his throne as a pair of finely-dressed advisors approached him.

"The official communique from the Sunset Sea Islands," stated Shino, bowing before his master and proceeded to hand him the sealed envelope. It was the first time the two island chains at attempted at talking with each other for some time and thus, the tremendous level of caution concerning its contents.

Aku would spend several minutes reading it in-depth before handing it back. "Inform Seto that he is to attend the Convention at once. He is to act with full authority to represent the throne in the proceedings," he instructed. Shino bowed in acknowledged and left the chamber.

A day later, the Kipanese Imperial representative, Seto Zeshin, on the orders of his Emperor, stood beside the ship, the Uzushio, commandeered by the Imperial Navy to take him to Sunset City. They cast off and made their way to the north, across the slowly-healing Thalassian Sea - over the tops of many sunken ships from the war. He would arrive three days later.

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The year 1959 was a trying one for the Worker's Republic; not only was it a bad year for the corn harvest, but Jian Bozaan, the legendary Big Sword himself, was in ill health, and widely (if very, very quietly) rumored to be dying. He'd awarded his right-hand woman, Lin Baishan, the title of Interim General Secretary, in the hopes that his illness would take a turn for the better, but the cancer would kill him only a few months later, in 1960. It was a time of great uncertainty for Fulgistan, a country only beginning to consider emerging from the purges and bloodshed that had followed the revolution for over twenty years. At the head of this tentative progressive movement was the young and controversial Ismail Tunyaz, one of the few senior Party officials born after the revolution. He was, at present, only Secretary for Foreign Diplomacy, but this meant that he had a unique and, perhaps, perilous opportunity to shape Fulgistan's foreign policy and international relations in the waning years of the Bozaan period.

The Fulgistani delegation had flown in from Bogd Gioro on an aging @Andallan Skandinavinsk SK-2, making stopovers in Faramount, Mauridiviah and Andalla itself before finally arriving, days later, in Sunset City. Fulgistan had taken no part in the Thalassan War proper, but as others were, the Worker's Republic was wary of the Sunset Sea Islanders, only recently haven shaken off the yoke of fascism, only to replace it with the barely-improved monarchy. Tunyaz had brought with him several agents of the Bureau of the Interior, the feared "Saker" secret police; the Revolutionary Guard was notoriously undisciplined, and thus unsuitable for diplomatic engagements. The Sakers had deigned to carry their pistols with them on this occasion, but all members of the delegation wore the military-style garb that was the de facto uniform of the CPF at the time.

The delegation approached King Tomasso after the Orinese, giving a curt bow and a cursory greeting. Warmer salutations were reserved for the delegation of @Faramount, a brother in the socialist struggle. Relations had been growing ever closer since the Southern Alharun nation's 1953 revolution, and Tunyaz was eager to secure a friend and ally in a fellow victim of colonialism. Satisfied with their position in the room, nearby the Faramontese, the Fulgistanis stepped aside and awaited further arrivals.

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Praetor Mrian's representative, Ninson, listened attentively to the Kipanese emissary's opening speech. He firmly agreed with the underlying principles Seto had outlined in his remarks and thought to himself that these deliberations might actually yield something other than going around in circles, and ultimately withering away. He had no time for such acts and it would bring tremendous shame to his family and the Praetor, who was already under enough political pressure back home, to return empty-handed.

He nodded his head, asking for the right to speak and though the actual deliberations hadn't started yet, he wanted to impart on the members gathered a tidbit of information that he felt was critical to convey before they got too far. "I first want to stand up and thank the Honorable Seto for his comments. I share his sentiment, we must come to a resolution on this matter - for everyone who relies upon the sea: for trade, for substance, for livelihood. But we must recognize, as we continue these deliberations, that the terms that are settled upon must not be developed to benefit the largest of nations, there must be a balance for all nations, and equitability of our waters."

Ninson took a brief pause before continuing. "Speaking from Rihan, due to our geographic position, the sea is vital to us. If this treaty were to make such a vital means heavily restricted to us, then I fear that it will dramatically harm the smallest of nations and irrefutably tarnish international relations for decades to come. We only get one opportunity to get this right. May we have a well-reasoned, and honest conversation about the vitally critical and challenging task before us."

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Continued...

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"So, Captain, how's she doing?"

"Pretty well, Minister. Not a single incident in over a hundred hours of flight time."

"That's... amazing. And she's only the third prototype?"

"Correct, Minister, the third and newest fully-functional model ever built."

The young SK-3 dashed across the Sea of Andalla at 38,000 feet. An engineer in his thirties sat at his post monitoring the aircraft's performance amid a myriad of gauges and switches. Two other engineers recorded outside conditions and tinkered around with several large vats of water. The flight engineer was glued to the dials, noting all significant information and keeping an eye on the flight systems. It was just another routine run, busy as ever, to check the progress of the SK-3's flight test and certification program.

The cabin was separated by a single row of dividers and a door. The rear cabin had a completely different mission — it housed the Andallan delegation for the conference, led by Foreign Minister Bjarke Albinsen. Though somewhat hastily prepared, the rear cabin was a flying palace — designed to barely accommodate the entire delegation on the ground at Sunset City, in the almost-likely event that the hosts would be less than friendly to the delegates. The cabin was complete with a small table and eight more wooden chairs, to serve as a rudimentary meeting room if needed. Sleeping bags were stuffed up into a small closet, the closest thing the cabin had to a bed aside from the chairs themselves. The Andallans came prepared; they would not fall for any foolish trap set by the fledgling new government.

Though initially hesitant to use a test aircraft, Skandinavisk agreed to coordinate a "test flight" to Sunset City to serve the purpose. Even in 1959 the Andallans looked at their western neighbors with a slight degree of hostility; Skandinavisk allowed the delegation to travel free save for the furniture, which was simply moved in from a stockroom in the Foreign Ministry.

Bjarke Albinsen observed the different cockpit instruments aboard the SK-3. For many of the delegation members, himself included, it was their first time flying on a jet. But Albinsen was sort of familiar with the Skandinavisk cockpit; he had often been invited to the flight deck while flying on the government-owned SK-1 and SK-2 fleet. One always had this certain indescribable feeling of pride when setting foot into a Skandinavisk cockpit for the first time, and it often followed each time one would once again enter the small hallowed room. Albinsen could easily tell that the pilots were loving each moment of the flight; any Andallan pilot would. But today they were happier than usual. Today they were putting the Sunset Sea Islands to shame with an aircraft unparalleled to whatever their Sunset Sea Islandian rivals would be introducing soon.

Albinsen never liked the idea of hostility. He could never understand why Andalla couldn't simply forgive the Sunset Sea Islands. Even Giokto and Andalla got along well these days, not because their fates had been decided but because two long-time neighbors had finally been reconciled. Hundreds of years of constant fighting between Andalla and Giokto, even between Giokto and itself, had ended with uniting under a single banner. And the Sunset Sea Islands did what? A surprise attack and some ancient unfriendly natives. Albinsen could really do nothing but roll his eyes and frustrate himself with the sheer hardheaded mindset of the Andallans.

But, luckily enough, there had arisen another chance at achieving true regional unity. One that would, perhaps, come with the added benefit of securing more relations across the globe. It was a time for peace, a time for cooperation, a time for one united force working for a common cause.

Nobody knew that. Albinsen did. Soon everybody else would, too.

Edited by Andalla
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Giordano Savio applauded respectfully after Seto's address, and again after Ninson speech. Once the two had finished, and no one else had indicated any desire to speak, he signaled to be recognized. 

"I join with my esteemed colleagues in hoping that today, we can establish a baseline for peace and prosperity in the world's oceans and waterways. Over the last few months, legal experts from a number of nations have come together, developing the proposal that I will now detail. During this process, my delegation has become somewhat of a neutral broker, due to our lack of direct interest here. With this in mind, I think I am the perfect person to present the proposal."

"The International Maritime Convention grants wide powers to coastal states, significantly expanding on what has historically been allowed. A coastal state will of course have complete control over its inland waters, but it will now also have near-complete sovereignty over a period extending twelve nautical miles from its coastline. What's more, a coastal state will have control of all natural resource exploitation occurring within 200 nautical miles of its coastline -- or, if there is an extensive continental shelf, to the end of that continental shelf or to 350 nautical miles from its coastline, whichever is shorter. Certain special provisions have been made to ensure the power of archipelagoes states over their internal waters as well."

"Yet the convention also grants significant privileges to the maritime powers, specifically in the form of the right to innocent passage. This right will allow any ship -- merchant, warship, or submarine -- to travel through any nation's territorial waters, subject only to safety and environmental regulates that a coastal state must apply equally to foreign and domestic vessels. Now, there will be limitations on what innocently passing ships can do. A submarine must be surfaced; a warship cannot engage in any military activity; and generally, a ship must pass as expeditiously as reasonably possible. And a ship can prohibit certain types of vessels from traveling through its waters including nuclear-powered vessels. But by and large, we will have created a substantial right for merchants to go anywhere in the world."

"We've also created some general international rules to promote the universal good. Piracy and unauthorized broadcasting are banned, and states are authorized to enforce those bans. We have also included optional protocols banning the slave trade and narcotics trade, for those nations who wish to allow their ships to be policed on these bases. There is also a mandate that any ship help another ship in distress. And there are a number of environmental regulations, aimed at ensuring that no party to the treaty severely pollutes the environment."

"We've finally proposed a framework for further development of international maritime law and the law of the sea. An International Maritime Organization is formed, which can propose model maritime regulations, propose new maritime treaties, or amend this treaty. And an International Maritime Court is created to adjudicate disputes regarding the convention. These two bodies should foster substantial cooperation in these areas."

"With the proposal laid out, I do believe now would be the time to begin substantive negotiations."

As Savio spoke, his aides distributed the initial proposals of the International Maritime Convention, Optional Protocol Banning the Slave Trade, Optional Protocol Banning the Narcotics Trade, Statute of the International Maritime Organization, and Statute of the International Maritime Court.

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Ninson had few issues with the proposed language set out in the documents that been distributed as Savio concluded his remarks. Though the representative of the Praetor, and by extension, the Senate, he was not about to contradict the Praetor's intercessors who had worked with the legal teams in constructing most of the proposals. There was one area in which the Republic would have trouble in relation to the rest of those assembled: that of the slave trade.

The maritime transportation of slaves was not nearly as extensive as it had been three hundred years prior during the height of the Republic's early growth phase. However, there were still some enslaved people being brought in by ship. The other members in the room were aware of this and it would certainly cause an issue. He had skimmed that particular proposal and realized that it was optional. He had half a mind to sign it, and then, like many international agreements Rihan had joined in the previous ten years, largely ignore them.

Rihannsu interests in relation to economic exclusive zones had been fulfilled in the language but he knew that fisherman would probably ignore such rules but the fact that the 200-mile zone had been incorporated was enough for him. There was a situation that would have to be resolved at some point: the Asgeirrian zones meshed and were iffy in the straight between them. That would have to be addressed outside the session in the Sunset Sea Islands.

He'd wait to see who was the first to speak before sharing his (or rather, the Praetor's) opinion.

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