Law of the Sea

Introduction

Law of the Sea - Research Guide International Law

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, piracy 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.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the 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 classification index code 96. Law of the Sea and subject headings (keywords) Law of the Sea and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS 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.

Please check out the latest articles about International Law of the Sea:

Gallagher, M.E., “The Time Is Now: the United States Needs to Accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to Exert Influence over the Competing Claims in the South China Sea”, Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, 28 (2014), No. 1, pp. 1-26.

Roach, J.A., “Today’s Customary International Law of the Sea”, Ocean Development and International Law, 45 (2014), No. 3, pp. 239-259.

Bibliography

Reference works

Recent books

Leading articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

New titles


1. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and Other Law of the Sea Jurisdictions (2013)
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and Other Law of the Sea Jurisdictions (2013) / Tulio Treves In: The Italian Yearbook of International Law = ISSN 0391-5107: vol. 23 (2013), page 353-365. - 2013
Keywords: International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Law of the sea, Case-law,

2. Who Owns the Oil that Traverses a Boundary on the Continental Shelf in an Enclosed Sea?
Who Owns the Oil that Traverses a Boundary on the Continental Shelf in an Enclosed Sea? : Seeking Answers in Natural Law Through Grotius and Selden / Melissa H. Loja In: Leiden Journal of International Law = ISSN 0922-1565: vol. 27, issue 4, page 893-911. - 2014
Keywords: Natural resources, Continental shelf, Customary international law, Natural law, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego-Bay, 10 December 1982),

3. The Pacific War, Continued: Denationalizing International Law in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island Dispute
The Pacific War, Continued: Denationalizing International Law in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island Dispute / Joseph Jackson Harris In: Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law = ISSN 0046-578X: vol. 42, issue 2, page 587-613. - 2014
Keywords: China, Japan, Tiaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Territorial sovereignty, Exclusive economic zone, Maritime boundaries, International disputes, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego-Bay, 10 December 1982), Law of the sea,

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  • Jayakumar, S., T. Koh and R. Beckman (eds.), The South China Sea Disputes and Law of the Sea, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2014.

    Jayakumar, S., T. Koh and R. Beckman (eds.), The South China Sea Disputes and Law of the Sea, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2014.

    Offering a comprehensive analysis of the individual topics and their application to the South China Sea region, each chapter of the book provides a substantive and rigorous investigation into the history, development and application of the relevant legal principles. It is written within the global context so that lessons learned from this exercise will have global implications. Contributors include former judges from ITLOS, legal advisors to States who participated in the negotiation and drafting of UNCLOS, as well as outstanding scholars of both law and geography, many of whom have acted as counsel or experts in cases before international court and tribunals.

    This important book provides neutral and objective analysis of law of the sea issues of relevance to the South China Sea and will therefore prove a valuable resource to Government officials and policy-makers from the ASEAN countries, Australia, China, Japan, Korea and the United States. It will also be of special interest to political analysts with an ongoing interest in the legal issues pertaining to the South China Sea region in light of concerns regarding conflict, challenges to freedom of navigation and access to resources.

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  • Mahinga, J.-G., La pêche maritime et le droit international, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2014. Showcase item

    Mahinga, J.-G., La pêche maritime et le droit international, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2014.

    Le développement des technologies a conduit à l’accroissement des activités de pêche maritime ainsi qu’à l’essor de l’intérêt économique de la mer. Le droit international a donc été amené à poser les règles d’organisation de la pêche autour des compétences reconnues aux Etats dans des espaces maritimes clairement déterminés ainsi qu’en matière de captures des espèces. Il a également prévu les modalités de règlement des différends qui surviendraient dans l’application de ces règles.

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  • Schofield, C., S. Lee and M-S. Kwon (eds.), The Limits of Maritime Jurisdiction, Leiden, Boston, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2014.

    Schofield, C., S. Lee and M-S. Kwon (eds.), The Limits of Maritime Jurisdiction, Leiden, Boston, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2014.

    The Limits of Maritime Jurisdiction, edited by Clive Schofield, Seokwoo Lee, and Moon-Sang Kwon, comprises 36 chapters by leading oceans scholars and practitioners devoted to both the definition of maritime limits and boundaries spatially and the limits of jurisdictional rights within claimed maritime zones. Contributions address conflicting maritime claims and boundary disputes, access to valuable marine resources, protecting the marine environment, maritime security and combating piracy, concerns over expanding activities and jurisdiction in Polar waters and the impact of climate change on the oceans, including the potential impact of sea level rise on the scope of claims to maritime zones. The volume therefore offers critical analysis on a range of important and frequently increasingly pressing contemporary law of the sea issues.

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  • Jensen, Ø., Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf: Law and Legitimacy, Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2014. Showcase item

    Jensen, Ø., Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf: Law and Legitimacy, Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2014.

    As the world’s coastal states go about dividing up the ocean floor, the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf plays an increasingly important role. The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf: Law and Legitimacy examines the Commission from two different but interrelated perspectives: a legal analysis of the Commission’s decision-making; and a study of normative legitimacy related to the Commission and its procedures. Insights into the history of the development of the concept of the continental shelf in the law of the sea are offered, including an explanation of how the institutionalized method for ascertaining continental shelf limits in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea came into being. Through a deep-ranging analysis of the Commission and its work, the book introduces a framework for assessing best practices, and will serve as a useful reference for academics, scientists and policymakers alike.

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  • Harrison, J., Making the Law of the Sea: a Study in the Development of International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Harrison, J., Making the Law of the Sea: a Study in the Development of International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    Making the Law of the Sea examines how various international organisations have contributed to the development of this law and what kinds of instruments and law-making techniques have been used. Each chapter considers a different international institution – including the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations – and analyses its functions and powers. Important questions are posed about the law-making process, including what actors are involved and what procedures are followed. Potential problems for the development of the law of the sea are considered and solutions are proposed. In particular, James Harrison explores and evaluates the current methods employed by international institutions to coordinate their law-making activities in order to overcome fragmentation of the law-making process.

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  • Yamamoto, L. and Esteban, M., Atoll Island States and International Law: Climate Change Displacement and Sovereignty, Berlin, Springer, 2014.

    Yamamoto, L. and Esteban, M., Atoll Island States and International Law: Climate Change Displacement and Sovereignty, Berlin, Springer, 2014.

    Atoll Island States exist on top of what is perceived to be one of the planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems: atolls. It has been predicted that an increase in the pace of sea level rise brought about by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will cause them to disappear, forcing their inhabitants to migrate. The present book represents a multidisciplinary legal and engineering perspective on this problem, challenging some common misconceptions regarding atolls and their vulnerability to sea-level rise. Coral islands have survived past changes in sea levels, and it is the survival of coral reefs what will be crucial for their continued existence. These islands are important for their inhabitants as they represent not only their ancestral agricultural lands and heritage, but also a source of revenue through the exploitation of the maritime areas associated with them.

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Database

Blogs

  • Arctic Sovereignty: Icy Roads to the North Pole

    Canada, the US, Norway, Russia, and Denmark have been gathering scientific evidence for more than a decade in an effort to increase their continental shelf claims in the Arctic Ocean Region.The potential delimitation dispute between Canada, Russia and Denmark seems to focus on the Lomonosov Ridge. The North Pole is located about 400 nautical miles from the northernmost island of Canada, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation. Under international law coastal state rights over the water columns are limited to the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, using the state’s territorial sea baselines as starting point.

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  • Tuvalu, Quo Vadis?

    Climate change damage in the South Pacific is a problem for all small island developing states, including Tuvalu. These island states may become uninhabitable within the foreseeable future. What about the maritime boundaries and maritime claims of the former (Tuvalu) sea territory, which options do Tuvaluans have here? Does a disappearing Tuvalu have international repercussions? Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) comprises a cluster of nine islands, plus islets, located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean just south of the Equator. These remote atolls are situated about 1,050 km (650 mi) n of Suva, Fiji, and 4,000 km (2,500 mi) of Sydney, Australia. Tuvalu has a coastline of 24 km (15 mi). As a rather small archipel Tuvale possesses considerable maritime claims on fishing grounds and natural resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

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  • Unresolved Territorial Disputes: The Tunbs and Abu Musa in the Gulf

    Last week, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, renewed his country’s demand for the restoration of sovereignty over three islands in the Persian Gulf region. Responding to the statement by the UAE, Iran’s representative reiterated his country’s full sovereignty over the islands and categorically rejected any claims to the contrary. The legal dispute about ownership and sovereignty of the three islands is based on rival historical claims by both sides.

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  • Senkaku or Diaoyu(tai) Islands?

    The Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute has been close to the boil for months. The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, took the decision to buy the islands to head off a more destabilising but popular proposal not only to acquire them but also to begin their active development.

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  • Criminal Acts at Sea: research topic of the 2012 Programme of the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations

    On Monday 20 August 2012 the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations of the The Hague Academy of International Law will start. The Research Programme of this year is concerned with criminal acts at sea. Together with the two Directors of Studies of the research programme for 2012, Dr. Kimberley N. TRAPP (Lecturer at Newnham College, University of Cambridge) for the French-speaking section and Dr. Efthymios PAPASTAVRIDIS (Lecturer at University of Thrace and Research Fellow at Academy of Athens) for the English-speaking section, the participants will concern themselves with the various aspects of law which are related to criminal acts at sea.

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  • Hans Island : Crisis in the Arctic?

    Compared with other regions on the planet, the Arctic is warming faster. More of the Arctic is free of ice for longer periods. The possibilities for exploitation of natural resources and for control over Northern shipping lanes have prompted countries’ renewed interest in their competing claims to the region. Recently, Denmark (for Greenland) and Canada have clashed over their claims to a small, barren rock known as Hans Island.

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  • Pirates, Buccaneers and Privateers : Concepts of International Law

    Establishing an authoritative definition of “piracy” in international law has always been rather problematic. The definition is relevant, because any confusion in terminology invariably leads to debates between State sovereignty and universal jurisdiction over crimes at sea. The various international law meanings of piracy are derived from, among others, international treaties, and various municipal law meanings are defined by statutes and State practice.

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  • Plastic Soup – What Legal Response to Marine Debris Pollution ?

    Solving the problem of marine debris and plastic pollution in the World’s oceans is a very complex and challenging enterprise. In particular, its legal framework. Various international and regional instruments, domestic and local laws and regulations apply directly or indirectly to marine debris pollution. The conspicuously global nature of this problem indicates that a potential role of significance is reserved for international environmental law. However, not all international and regional instruments are legally binding, and not all have a strong focus on marine debris and plastic pollution.

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  • Grotius in Slovenia

    Grotius’ theory on the Freedom of the Sea might help Slovenia in the dispute with Croatia over a small bay in the Adriatic. Since their independence from Yuogoslavia in 1991 they quarrel over the territorial sea delimitation in the Bay of Piran. Croatia claims that the border should be drawn in the middle of the bay, which would deny Slovenian ships direct access to the high sea…

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  • Norway and Russian Federation Sign Maritime Delimitation Agreement

    In Murmansk on Wednesday 15th September 2010 Norway and the Russian Federation signed a treaty concerning the maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The disputed territory covered 175,000 square km (67,600 sq miles), an area mainly in the Barents Sea between proven petroleum reserves on the Russian and Norwegian sides.

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  • Announcement lecture 'The law of the sea'

    On monday, June 21 2010, prof. mr. A.H.A. Soons (Utrecht university) will give a lecture on the ‘Law of the Sea‘. The topics will be international maritime law in general and specific issues like piracy, overfishing and Japanese whaling. Professor Soons will also speak on disputes that states had to claim marine areas. The lecture [...]

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  • The Falkland Islands Conflict

    Tensions between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands came to a boiling point when the UK announced plans to begin offshore oil drilling near the remote islands in February 2010. This blog will briefly discuss this complicated dispute as well as the actions taken by both parties in the United Nations General Assembly.

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  • Mare Liberum 1609-2009

    Celebration of the 400th anniversary of Grotius’ famous book “Mare Liberum”.
    Highlight was the presentation of the first copy of a new English translation of Mare Liberum “ Hugo Grotius Mare liberum 1609-2009. Original Latin and English Translation”. Edited and annotated by Robert Feenstra, General Introduction by Jeroen Vervliet. Leiden : Brill 2009. ISBN 9789004177017.

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  • Innocent passage in the territorial sea

    The concept of passage is defined in article 18 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 1982) as ‘continious and expeditious’ navigation through the territorial sea from and to any other sea zone. The passage, to be characterised as innocent, must not be prejudicial to the peace, good order and security of the coastal state (article 19 UNCLOS III).

    Article 30 UNCLOS III states that ‘If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately.’

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  • Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum 1609-2009

    The Hague celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum (Leiden, Publishing House of Elsevier) with an extensive program of activities. It commemmorates the fact that Grotius wrote his book in The Hague with exhibitions, theater/musical plays, films, publications and lectures in museums and libraries.

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  • Maritime Cultural Property and Treasure Hunting

    Archaeological sites in international waters are numerous and still largely untouched. With the development of sophisticated technology for the search and recovery of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, however, issues of ownership, preservation, and cultural property rights have achieved increasing prominance. In particular, after the discovery of RMS Titanic in 1985 the debate among marine archaeologists, cultural rights proponents and commercial salvage companies about treasure hunting in international waters has intensified.

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  • 32nd Telders International Law Moot Court Competition (16-18 April 2009)

    The Mare Liberum Case Case concerning sovereignty over Abundantia Ridge and other matters. Rosmarus v Urusus. 

    From 16 – 18 April 2009 the 32nd Telders International Law Moot Court Competition will be held at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Telders Moot Court Competition could be considered the most prestigious and important [...]

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  • Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine)

    On Tuesday 3 February 2009 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered its Judgment in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine). A public sitting took place at 10 a.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the Court, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, read the Court’s Judgment.

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