UN Convention on the Law of Sea

UNCLOS_logo

Also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

Location Montego Bay, Jamaica
Effective 16 November 1994
Condition 60 ratifications
Signatories 157
Parties 168
  • UN has no direct operational role in the implementation of the Convention. 
  • However, there is a role played by organizations such as the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission, and the International Seabed Authority (ISA). 
  • The most significant issues covered by convention were setting limits, navigation, archipelagic status and transit regimes, exclusive economic zones (EEZs), continental shelf jurisdiction, deep seabed mining, the exploitation regime, protection of the marine environment, scientific research, and settlement of disputes. 
  • The convention gives a clear definition on Internal Waters, Territorial Waters, Archipelagic Waters, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone, and Continental Shelf. 
  • Mineral resource exploitation in deep seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction is regulated through an International Seabed Authority and the Common heritage of mankind principle. 
  • According to UNCLOS, Landlocked states are given a right of access to and from the sea, without taxation of traffic through transit states.
  • Disputes can be submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea established under the Convention, to the International Court of Justice, or to arbitration.
  • The Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction over deep seabed mining disputes.
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