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Law of the Sea and the UN Conventions

Libguide Information

Each of the tabs listed above provides information and links to key components related to the law of the sea. You can explore the history of the three UN LOS conferences, the institutions established by the 1982 UNCLOS III, maritime zones under international law, the United States position on UNCLOS III and also explore additional resources, both online and in print by clicking on the Books and more on LOS or the UN Audiovisual Library on International Law (videos).

UNCLOS 30th Anniversary (1982 - 2012): VIDEO

This link from the UN celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (1982-2012) includes an excellent overview of the importance and content of the UNCLOS III Convention: VIDEO


"For hundreds of years, the marine environment was free from regulation of fishing, shipping, and resource exploitation.  Over time, coastal States ... had an increased interest in national security and the enforcement of laws to protect its commerce and marine resources.  As a result, a balance was needed to maintain the freedom of navigation that many foreign maritime interests had relied upon.  This need for balance is captured in the history of the law of the sea." *

 * From the NOAA website (viewed September 9, 2013)

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (A historical perspective)


* Link to the UN’s Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) website. The site includes a lot of information including a brief history of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, Key provisions of the Convention, the relationship between the UN and the Convention, the future for the law of the sea and much more (viewed 11 July 2016).



Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission, 1949-1997 (In particular, see Section 8 on the ILC's development and codification of Law of International Spaces that includes the law of the sea topics that led to early LOS conferences).

Law of the Sea: Regime of the High Seas

Law of the Sea: Regime of the Territorial Sea

         Law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses

         Shared natural resources (Law of Transboundary Aquifers)



ARVID PARDO: The Visionary Inspiring The Common Heritage Concept 1914 – 1999
Public lecture by Alexander Yankov (in Pacem in Maribus XXXII , 5-8 November 2007, Corinthia Palace Hotel, Attard, Malta. Judge Yankov describes the importance of Maltese Ambassador Arvid Pardo's key speech before the UN General Assembly, 1 November 1967 *.

This speech by the man often referred to as the "Father of the contemporary law of the sea" introduced the novel concept of the "Common Heritage of Mankind" that, as it relates to the world's seabed and oceans, formed part of the text of UNCLOS III (Articles 136 and 137)136 and 137 of UNCLOS.

* UN A/C.1/PV.1515

UN Photo Portrait of Mr. Arvid Pardo, new Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations, who today presented his credentials to Secretary-General U Thant,13 January 1965, United Nations, New York, Photo # 173712