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Summary of Treaty

Official Title United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Type of Agreement Multilateral
Place of Signature Montego Bay, Jamaica
Date of Signature 10/12/1982
Date of Entry Into Force 16/11/1994
Duration Indefinite
Objective of Agreement To establish, 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 utilisation of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment.
International organisation established by the treaty International Sea-Bed Authority
Remarks The Convention was adopted by the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and opened for signature, together with the Final Act of the Conference, at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10 December 1982. The Conference was convened pursuant to resolution 3067 (XXVIII)1 adopted by the General Assembly on 16 November 1973. The Conference held eleven sessions, from 1973 to 1982. The Conference also adopted a Final Act 2 with, annexed thereto, nine resolutions and a statement of understanding. The Convention establishes a comprehensive legal framework to regulate all ocean space, its uses and resources. It contains, among other things, provisions relating to the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone and the high seas. It also provides for the protection and preservation of the marine environment, for marine scientific research and for the development and transfer of marine technology. One of the most important parts of the Convention concerns the exploration for and exploitation of the resources of the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area). The Convention declares the Area and its resources to be "the common heritage of mankind". The International Seabed Authority, established by the Convention, administers the resources of the Area. The Convention and Part XI of the Convention are to be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument. The mechanism established by the Convention provides for four alternative means for the settlement of disputes: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Annex VI to the Convention), the International Court of Justice, an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII to the Convention, and a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII to the Convention. Upon becoming a party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the European Community and the other States parties agreed, inter alia, to strike a balance between the rights and obligations of coastal states and those of countries carrying on fishing activity on the high seas. The main aim of such balance is the sustainable exploitation of fish resources. Following the extension of the exclusive economic zones to 200 miles in the 1970s, distant-water fishing fleets had to reorganise their activities and consequently intensified their drain on resources. Combined with technical advances, this led to an alarming overexploitation of most stocks. Stable international legal relations and the implementation of real cooperation represent a major challenge for the future of Community high-sea fishing. The European Union has consequently played an active part in the development of three new instruments which supplement and add further detail to the provisions established by the Convention on the Law of the Sea, namely: - the Agreement to promote compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas, adopted by the FAO in 1993; - the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted by the FAO Conference in November 1995, which followed on from the Cancún Declaration of 1992; - the Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, known as the 'New York Agreement', adopted in 1995. The European Union's accession to these instruments has had important implications on the fishing activities of the Community fleet in international and third-country waters, either through closer cooperation with the developing countries to help them become more effective in fisheries matters, or through support for the international community's efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU), in particular within the framework of RFOs. Under the same Decision (98/832/EC) of 23/03/1998, the Council also decided to conclude the 28 July 1994 Agreement on the implementation of Part XI of the Convention. It should be noted that although the provisions on the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea are to be found in the 1994 Agreement on the implementation of Part XI of the Convention, nevertheless, the Tribunal is established by the UNCLOS itself
Relation and Association with Other Agreements -Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (UNCLOS)
-Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
OJ Reference L179, 23/06/1998, p. 3
Depositary United Nations
Contracting Parties European Community, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Authentic Texts Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish
Subject Matters External Relations
Accession Article 307 Agreement
Amendment and review Article 312 Agreement
Entry into force conditions Article 308 Agreement
Non-Affection Article 311 Agreement
Ratification Conditions Article 306 Agreement
Regional and International Organisation (REIO) Article 305.1 Convention
Settlement of disputes Article 279-299 Convention
Management Assembly
International Sea-Bed Authority
Date of Signature 07/12/1984
Conclusion Date 01/04/1998
Ratification Status CONF
Conclusion Decision Council Decision of 23 March 1998 concerning the conclusion by the European Community of the United Nations Convention of 10 December 1982 on the Law of the Sea and the Agreement of 28 July 1994 relating to the implementation of Part XI thereof; OJ L179 of 23/06/1998, p.1
Date of Entry Into Force 01/05/1998
Reserves A declaration of EU competence exists for this treaty. To consult the text click on "to load all the summary data of the treaty".
Competence Mixed
Voting Right(s)
EC exercises voting rights of its MS contracting parties (if EC votes MS no and vice-versa) Article 4 Annex IX
Legal Basis Treaty EC: Article 43
Treaty EC: Article 130
Treaty EC: Article 113

Last Update :   13/10/2009