Law of the Sea Convention

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The Law of the Sea Convention is a common name for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  It is also referred to as the Law of the Sea Treaty.  The UNCLOS is an international maritime agreement that has now been signed by 158 countries and the European Community.  A replacement for four 1958 maritime treaties, the UNCLOS was developed during the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, and went into effect in 1994.

Generally, the UNCLOS defines the scope of national claims to certain waters along their coastlines, with respect to almost all relevant issues, including mineral resources, fishing, pollution, and immigration.  The general rule under the INCLOS is that most nations’ territorial seas extend 12 nautical miles beyond their baseline, which is a term that is strictly defined by the INCLOS.  However, there are still a few remaining nations that use a three-mile territorial limit even today.  Historically, the United States objected to the UNCLOS with regard to its provisions on seabed exploration and mining, as well as the creation of the International Seabed Authority to regulate this area and the mining royalties resulting therefrom.  As a result, the United States signed the 1994 agreement, but has not yet ratified the agreement, on the grounds of a negative impact on American economic and security interests.

If you own or operate a business that encounters these types of international maritime law issues, you should seek the counsel of an experienced maritime injury attorney, who can guide you through this rather complex and ever-changing area of international law.

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