Where can I find information about the Law of the Sea?
Last Updated: Sep 19, 2019     Views: 475

The law of the sea is the body of international law concerning the rights and responsibilities of nations and other actors with respect to the use of the world's oceans and continental shelves.


The principal treaty in this area is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was signed in 1982 and entered into force in 1994.

  • The text the treaty and current list of participating states in Chapter XXI of the Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. Chapter XXI of the Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General contains other multilateral treaties dealing with the law of the sea, including treaties such as the Convention on the Continental Shelf.
  • The drafting history of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea can be found in the Audiovisual Library of International Law Historic Archives.
  • The Official Documents for the three United Nations diplomatic conferences relating to the Law of the Sea can be found on the United Nations Diplomatic Conferences website.

The UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOSwebsite contains information about international agreements, organizations, settlements, and General Assembly documents related to the Law of the Sea. DOALOS also provides an overview and the full text of UNCLOS.


The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was established by UNCLOS as an independent judicial body for adjudicating disputes over the interpretation and implementation of the UNCLOS treaty. You can find more information about ITLOS by visiting its website.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and other courts and tribunals have also adjudicated disputes related to the law of the sea when these disputes fall outside the scope of UNCLOS.  


Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.


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