Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
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Book page 64-65


Section: Part XII, Articles 192-237

Pollution Prevention - UNCLOS 1982This Part represents a constitution for the prevention of pollution of the seas on a global, regional, and local basis. Any obligations assumed by states under special conventions and agreements related to the protection and preservation of the marine environment are to be carried out in a manner consistent with the general principles and objectives of the Convention;[1] consequently, these provisions should not be viewed solely as a text of law, as they are also a political document. This thread of thought can be found in many of the provisions, which require the states to undertake efforts to create a reliable and effective global system for the protection of the marine environment by means of international co-operation, including technical assistance and environment observation,[2] and the application of international regulations and standards.[3]

All states have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment[4] and can be held liable for failure to fulfil their obligations,[5] e.g., if pollution spreads beyond the area where a state exercises its sovereign rights.[6] They are obliged to take measures to reduce to the fullest possible extent pollution from all sources, whether land-based sources, sea-bed activities, dumping, the atmosphere, or vessels;[7] furthermore, plans must be made to prevent accidents and deal with emergencies that may occur during the operation of vessels and installations and devices used for exploration and exploitation.[8] However, these provisions affect mostly the coastal states and the flag states; only those provisions dealing with the Area,[9] dumping,[10] and the atmosphere[11] (which includes air navigation) affect all states, as these fields are either partly or wholly related to the high seas. A corollary to these provisions is the granting of investigative power to port states, which may even initiate proceedings in respect of unlawful discharge beyond their general jurisdiction against any vessel, which is voluntarily within a port or at an off-shore terminal of the port state.[12]

[1] Art. 237, Para . 2,   
Art. 197-206,  
[3] Art. 207(1), 208(3), 209(2); 210(6), 211(2), 212(1),   
[4] Art. 192,   
Art. 235, Para . 1,   
[6] Art. 194, Para . 2; Art. 195,    
[7] Part. XII, Sec. 5-6, 

[8] Art. 194, Para . 3,   
Art. 209, 215,    
[10] Art. 210, 216,    
Art. 212, 222,   
Art. 218,   
[13] Art. 56-57,   
[14] Art. 76,    
[15] Art. 193, 207-208,     

[16] Art. 195,
Art. 206,    
[18] Art. 207,    
[19] Art. 208,   
[21] Art. 237,   
[22] Art. 207, Para . 4,  
[23] Art. 202; Art. 203,  

Further Readings :  -Preservation of the Marine Environment. (Commentary)


The main responsibility for the protection of the marine environment lies with the states, which have a coastline. These states, which enjoy the benefits of being granted sovereign rights over living and non-living resources within the limits of an exclusive economic zone[13] and a continental shelf,[14] have also been given the corresponding duty to protect and preserve the marine environment within these areas.[15] Significant in this context are the duties not to transfer damage or hazards,[16] to provide necessary information,[17] and control land-based sources of pollution,[18] sea-bed activities,[19] and vessels.[20] The Convention distinguishes among varying levels of intensity of involvement, e.g., "taking into account," "not less effective," and "giving effect." This results from the Conference's aim of unifying pollution regulations on a global basis[21] without overburdening the capabilities of developing states.[22] However, the urgency of controlling marine pollution also caused the Conference to provide for scientific and technical assistance[23] and preferential treatment[24] for developing countries in their efforts to prevent, reduce, or control pollution and its effects on the environment.  

[1] Art. 237, Para . 2,   [2] Art. 197-206,  [3] Art. 207(1), 208(3), 209(2); 210(6), 211(2), 212(1),   [4] Art. 192,   [5] Art. 235, Para . 1,   [6] Art. 194, Para . 2; Art. 195,    [7] Part. XII, Sec. 5-6,   [8] Art. 194, Para . 3,   [9] Art. 209, 215,    [10] Art. 210, 216,    [11] Art. 212, 222,   [12] Art. 218,   [13] Art. 56-57,    [14] Art. 76,    [15] Art. 193, 207-208,    [16] Art. 195,    [17] Art. 206,    [18] Art. 207,    [19] Art. 208,   [20] Art. 194, Para . 3,    [21] Art. 237,   [22] Art. 207, Para . 4,   [23] Art. 202; Art. 203,   
Further Readings :  -Preservation of the Marine Environment. (Commentary),     -Indemnity. (Commentary),   -Dumping (Commentary)

Next page 66-67

Book published:
1988 Fairplay/UK,
2005 (reprint) by

Trafford Publishing,
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403, Canada.

329 pages, ISBN 1-4120-7665-x;

Available via online-contributer 




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Bernaerts' Guide to the 
1982 United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea


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Bernaerts Guide -UNCLOS 1982

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Preface of the reprint in 2005

More than 15 years ago FAIRPLAY PUBLICATIONS Ltd, Coulsdon, Surrey, England, published the book "Bernaerts' Guide to the Law of the Sea - The 1982 United Nations Convention". The guiding potential of the book to find access to the Law of the Sea Convention is still given. Internet technology and publishing on demand invite to provide the interested reader and researcher with this tool again. Only the Status of the Convention (ratification etc) has been updated and instead of the Final Act, the book edition includes the "Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea" of 1994. The corresponding web site neither includes the text of the 1982 Convention, nor the Agreement of 1994. The thorough Index of the 1988 edition is reproduced without changes.
Arnd Bernaerts, October 2005,
Comments 1988-1990
___"an invaluable guide to the understanding and implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea"
Satya N. Nandan, U.N. Undersecretay, in: Book Foreword, 1988
__"clearly presented" R.R. Churchill, in: Maritime Policy & Management 1989, p. 340
__"the (book's) concept, which is so wonderful simple, is exactly the factor which makes the book so useful for both the novice as well as the person with extensive experience"
M. Bonefeld, in: Verfassung und Recht, 1989, pp. 83-85
__"the work contains much useful background information…." R.W. Bentham, in: Journal of Energy & Natural Resource Law, 1989, p. 336
__"Bernaerts has saved us a struggle" JG, in: Fairplay Shipping Weekly Magazin, 13th October 1988, p. 33
__"this is probably the best edition on the Convention to put into the hands of students"
A.V. Lowe, in: Int'l and Comparative Law Quarterly 1990, p. 16
__"it will be an invaluable reference tool and should sit on the book shelves of policy makers and all others who are involved in maritime matters"
Vivian I. Forbes, in: The Indian Ocean Review, May 1990, p.10

Bernaerts’s Guide to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

FOREWORD of the 1988 edition
by Satya N. Nandan
Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Law of the Sea Office for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Revolutionary changes have taken place in the International Law of the Sea since 1945. The process of change was accelerated in the last two decades by the convening in 1973 of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. The protracted negotiations, spanning over a decade, culminated in the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. By 9 December 1984, the closing date for signature, 159 signatures were appended to the Convention, the largest number for any such multilateral instrument in the history of international relations.

The Convention, which was adopted as a comprehensive package, introduced a new equity in the relationship among states with respect to the uses of the ocean and the allocation of its resources. It deals, inter alia, with sovereignty and jurisdiction of states, navigation and marine transport, over flight of aircraft, marine pollution, marine scientific research, marine technology, conservation and exploitation of marine living resources, the development and-exploitation of marine non-living resources in national and international areas, and unique provisions dealing with the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the new regime.

There is no doubt that as we approach the 21st century, more and more attention will be paid to the uses of the oceans and the development of their resources. It is important, therefore, that these developments should take place within a widely accepted legal framework so that there is certainty as to the rights and obligations of all states. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides that framework. It establishes a standard for the conduct of states in maritime matters. It is thus a major instrument for preventing conflicts among states.

The convention and its annexes contain over 400 articles. For many it may be a formidable undertaking to grasp the substance and structure of it without making a considerable investment in time and energy. Mr Bernaerts' guide, therefore, is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the convention. It provides a most useful reference tool which will benefit administrators and policy makers, as well as scholars. It makes the convention accessible to the uninitiated and refreshes, at a glance, the memories of the initiated. With meticulous references and graphic presentations of the provisions of the convention, Mr Bernaerts has given to the international community an invaluable guide to the understanding and implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
April 1988

PREFACE (extract) of the 1988 edition

The reader will be aware that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the first constitution of the oceans, a ground-breaking document in many respects. He or she might also have made the discovery that the full text of the Convention is immediately accessible only to experts. If the Convention were only a treaty consisting of straightforward technical regulatory provisions, it could be left to them with a clear conscience. But the Convention is to a large extent a political document and, as such, is expected to influence significantly the development of relations among the states in the world community; for this reason, a wide-spread knowledge of the scope, goals, and regulatory framework of the Convention can only serve to further the aims of the document and would surely follow the intentions of the many men and women who made this Convention their life-work, such as Arvid Pardo (Malta), Hamilton Shirtey Amerasinghe (Sri Lanka), Tommy T. B. Koh (Singapore), and Satya N. Nandan (Fiji), to name only a few of the hundreds who worked on the preparation of this Convention.
As the reader uses the Guide (Part II), he will find that many provisions of the Convention are much easier to understand if one knows the basic framework within which a particular regulation is placed. The Guide aims to provide this framework, with reference to the text of the Convention and, in addition, t& the supporting Commentary of Part III, which describes the overall context of the major terms arid concepts. The Introduction of Part I sketches the historical background of the Convention and some of the general effects. A detailed index at the end of the book will be of assistance in finding specific subjects.


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