Law of the Sea
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 scheme → Sea in general, Archipelagoes, bays, gulfs, islands, rocks, Contiguous zone, continental shelf, Deep sea, seabed, Exclusive Economic Zone, Fisheries, High seas, Internal waters, territorial waters, Mare liberum, Mare clausum, Marine environment, Settlement of disputes, Straits, 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.
In the South China Sea Arbitration Award (12 July 2016), an arbitral tribunal in The Hague found that China’s claim to historic rights to resources was incompatible with the detailed allocation of rights and maritime zones in the Convention. The Tribunal considered that prior to the Convention, the waters of the South China Sea beyond the territorial sea were legally part of the high seas, in which vessels from any State could freely navigate and fish. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that, as between the Philippines and China, there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided for by the Convention, within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’. The tribunal concluded that China failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone. Accordingly, China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of UNCLOS.
Recent article: Rossi, Christopher R., "Treaty of Tordesillas Syndrome: Sovereignty Ad Absurdum and the South China Sea Arbitration" (January 9, 2017). 50(2) Cornell International Law Journal (2017) (Forthcoming).
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