Notes on UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)
march 6, 2013
What the slides say?
UNCLOS I – 1956-58- Geneva
- 4 separate conventions – rights and duties of states
o Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone
Internal waters, right of innocent passage
Not beyond 12 miles (rather than which 12 miles for all states)
Convention on the Continental Shelf
Minimum limit of 200 meters on continental shelf (not specific)
Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living resources of the High
New duty of conservation in fishing (not specific)
Convention on the High Seas
Key definitions (slaves outlawed, high seas, access for landlocked,
piracy, hot pursuit pollution and submarine cables)
Do we need a new UNCLOS to deal with new threats?
Why have a UNCLOS?
To frame the issue (so you get why):
- There are many issues in international law surrounding the use (exploitation and passage) of the
sea. UNCLOS I, ratified in 1958, produced “four conventions: Convention on the Territorial
Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Convention on the High seas, the Convention on the
Continental shelf (Conshelf Convention), and the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of
the Living Resources of the High Seas” (Glahan and Taulbee, 296).
- Because of intial problems, a second conference was created by the UN in 1960, called
UNCLOS II. A third draft occurred in 1973 to address seabed resource issues, but failed to gain
- UNCLOS III Is the primary conference and series of conventions which international law refers
to on the high seas (effectively Maritime Law) For your consideration as well:
Flags of convenience:
- AKA. “Nationality of Convenience”.
- Stateless Vessels can be denied entry into a port.
- Article 93 of UNCLOS: ships may fly flags of certain intl. organizations.
- Laws of flag state apply to internal affairs of the boat flying the flag.
Within in International Waters, flags apply broadly. This prompts an international agreement:
Convention on Condition for Registration of Ships (1986). This provides that a “genuine Link” is
necessary for flags of convenience. Think about the issue where people fly the flag of Mongolia
(landlocked country). Very easy to avoid inspection and work around international convention because
their regulations are so lax.
States have the right to travers/exploit waters known as international waters.
- Of primary concern w/ international waters is the notion of harbor passage.
o Jurisdiction of the state which the port belongs too, which includes right to enter port,
and matters of trade related to port.
o Ships in Distress (not covered by any particular conventions as falls under customary
law), may enter ports and not be subject to penalty by any state as they did not enter of
their own volition.
o Because of coastline, gulfs and bays = problem
Ex: Hudson’s Bay is claimed by Canada, yet the US disputes this claim. States may draw a straight baseline if the headlands of a bay exceed 24 miles.
Thus the US justifie