Law of the Sea

Abstract

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 10 December 1982), UNCLOS, is the most comprehensive treaty in public international law and covers a range of Law of the Sea topics, such as delimitation of maritime boundaries, islands, maritime zones, fisheries, marine environment protection, deep seabed mining, marine scientific research, criminal acts at sea and ocean governance. ITLOS and ICJ and PCA have jurisdiction to settle international disputes on law of the sea.

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The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 10 December 1982), UNCLOS, is intended to govern the use of oceans for fishing, shipping, exploration, navigating and mining. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the most comprehensive treaty in public international law and covers a range of Law of the Sea topics, such as delimitation of maritime boundaries, maritime zones, marine environment protection, marine scientific research, arrest of ships, criminal acts at sea (piracy, trafficking) and many more.

Part XI UNCLOS on the legal regime on deep seabed mining used to be a main obstacle for ratification by Western states and blocked the entry into force of the UNCLOS as a whole. After more specific regulations in the 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS about the commercial exploitation of the deep seabed, more countries were willing to ratify and UNCLOS entered into force in 1994. Although the United States now recognizes the UNCLOS as a codification of customary international law, the US has not yet ratified it.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has jurisdiction over all disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, subject to the provisions of article 297 and to the declarations made in accordance with article 298 of the Convention. According to art. 138 Rules of the Tribunal ITLOS may also give an advisory opinion on a legal question if this is provided for by "an international agreement related to the purposes of the Convention". Additional to ITLOS, judicial settlement of international law of the sea disputes has also taken place at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), e.g. see the North Sea continental shelf cases and at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), for example see the Arctic Sunrise Award (Russian Federation v. the Netherlands).

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Law of the Sea. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's subject heading (keyword) Law of the Sea are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Librarian’s choice
Publication
Johansen, E., Busch, S. and Jakobsen, I.U. (eds.), The Law of the Sea and Climate Change: Solutions and Constraints, Cambridge, CUP, 2021.
Our oceans are suffering under the impacts of climate change. Despite the critical role that oceans play in climate regulation, international climate law and the law of the sea are developed as two different, largely separate, legal regimes.
Bibliography manually

Sources of international law

Treaties

Collections and compilations of treaties and other documents of international law of the sea

Case-law

For more Awards/Judgments on Law of the Sea please take a look at overview pages Law of the Sea ITLOS Cases or Law of the Sea ICJ Cases or Law of the Sea PCA Cases

UN Declarations and Resolutions

Reference works

Selected books and articles

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies