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Convention on the Law of The Sea 1982

Page history last edited by Kelle 11 years, 3 months ago

Convention on the Law of The Sea 1982


  • International agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on he Law of the Sea which took place from 1973-1982.
  • Before the 1960s, the 70% of the earth's surface covered by oceans had been considered neutral territory.  This led to the leaders wanting regulation.
  • The UNCLOS was put into effect in 1994, when Guyana became the 60th state to sign the treaty.  In all, 157 countries have signed the treaty.
  • Defines the rights and responsibilities in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
  • The United States strongly objected to the provisions of the Convention.  The U.S. felt that the provisions of the treaty were not free-market friendly and were designed to favor the economic systems of the Communist states.  The U.S. refused to ratify. 
  • Law provides for a predictable framework for all the uses of the oceans and its resources and provides for universally recognized limits for zones of natural jurisdiction.  Nations can distinguish what they can or cannot do in the water around them.


The treaty covers the following:


Internal waters- Covers all water and waterways on the landward side of the baseline.  The state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource.  Foreign vessels may not pass through the internal waters.


Territorial waters- The coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use an resource in ares up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline.  Vessels are given right of 'innocent passage' in which boats are passing through waters in a way "not prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security" o the coastal state.  Fishing, weapons practice, spying, and polluting are not 'innocent.'


Archipelagic waters- A baseline is drawn between the farthest points of the outermost islands.  The state has full sovereignty over these waters (like internal waters), but foreign vessels have right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters (like territorial waters).


Contiguous zone- The area 24 nautical miles from the territorial sea baselines limit.  A state can enforce laws in pollution, taxation, customs, and immigration.


Exclusive economic zones- 200 nautical miles from the baseline.  The coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources.


Continental shelf- Defined as the natural prolongation of the land territory to the continental margin's outer edge.  Coastal states have the exclusive control of the resources attached to the continental shelf, but not to creatures living in the water column beyond the economic zone.

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