Primary Sources

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Published December 10, 1982

he Law of the Sea Treaty covers a variety of ocean-usage issues such as transit, mining, research, pollution, resource management and sets out guidelines for nations. It is the result of the third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1982. It was signed on December 10, 1982 and entered into force on November 16, 1994. The United States has signed the treaty though it has not been ratified by the Senate.

Submissions for territorial claims to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf are available on the UN website.

Excerpt from Law of the Sea:

The States Parties to this Convention,

Prompted by the desire to settle, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, all issues relating to the law of the sea and aware of the historic significance of this Convention as an important contribution to the maintenance of peace, justice and progress for all peoples of the world,

Noting that developments since the United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea held at Geneva in 1958 and 1960 have accentuated the need for a new and generally acceptable Convention on the law of the sea,

Conscious that the problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole,

Recognizing the desirability of establishing through this Convention, with due regard for the sovereignty of all States, a legal order for the seas and oceans which will facilitate international communication, and will promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient utilization of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment,

Bearing in mind that the achievement of these goals will contribute to the realization of a just and equitable international economic order which takes into account the interests and needs of mankind as a whole and, in particular, the special interests and needs of developing countries, whether coastal or land-locked,

Desiring by this Convention to develop the principles embodied in resolution 2749 (XXV) of 17 December 1970 in which the General Assembly of the United Nations solemnly declared inter alia that the area of the seabed and ocean floor and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, as well as its resources, are the common heritage of mankind, the exploration and exploitation of which shall be carried out for the benefit of mankind as a whole, irrespective of the geographical location of States,

Believing that the codification and progressive development of the law of the sea achieved in this Convention will contribute to the strengthening of peace, security, cooperation and friendly relations among all nations in conformity with the principles of justice and equal rights and will promote the economic and social advancement of all peoples of the world, in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations as set forth in the Charter,

Affirming that matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law,


More on This Topic

Foreign Affairs Article

The War of Law

Authors: Jon Kyl, Douglas J. Feith, and John Fonte

In the era of globalization, policymakers are increasingly debating the proper role of international law, and a group of legal scholars have...