Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
                    Details to the book and further online access below











Book page 66-67

Section: Part XII, Articles 192-237 


Pollution Vessel - UNCLOS 1982Whereas a flag state grants a vessel its nationality[1] and therefore exercises sovereignty on board, a coastal state enjoys sovereignty in its territorial sea[2] and jurisdiction in regard to pollution matters in the exclusive economic zone.[3] During the last few decades, coastal states have become increasingly reluctant to accept common flag state jurisdiction and the consequent problems of enforcement and have sought more influence and control in pollution matters related to navigation, effective exercise of jurisdiction, and rights for prevention measures. The Convention therefore obliges shipping states to establish international rules and standards through competent organizations or diplomatic conferences.[4] As far as agreements and standards have been established and practiced,[5] they form the backbone of a legal framework for prevention of pollution. The Convention provisions in this Part contain the general principles, which the legal framework is to apply[6] and according to which it will, if necessary, be re-examined from time to time.[7]

The basic principles of the 1982 Convention concerning pollution matters provide that the primary responsibility for establishing measures for the prevention of pollution by vessels lies with the flag state. The flag state is to adopt laws and regulations for the prevention of pollution which are to have at least the same effect as generally accepted international rules and standards established through the competent organization[8] (competent organization here means - International Maritime Organization - IMO -) and take measures to ensure to the fullest possible extent the safety of operations at sea, including the regulation of design, construction, equipment, operation and manning of vessels, prevention of accidents, and prevention of intentional and unintentional discharges, and is to provide emergency measures.[9] As the coastal states which co­operate in regional pollution prevention agreements may require information from foreign vessels navigating in their territorial sea,[10] the flag state is to ensure that the master of a vessel flying its flag furnishes information as to whether his destination is a port of that region and, if so, whether his ship complies with port entry requirements.[11] There is further the obligation to render information required in order to determine if a violation has occurred.[12]  

[1] Art. 91,   
[2] Art. 2,  
[3] Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (b) (iii),   
Art. 211, Para . 1,   
[5] e.g. Convention for the Prevention  
     of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL),   
[6] Art. 237,  
[7] Art. 211, Para . 1,   
[8] Art. 211, Para . 2

[9] Art. 194, Subpara. 3(b), 
[10] Art. 211, Para . 3,   
[11] Art. 211, Para . 3,   
Art. 220, Para 4, Art. 211, Para . 7,   
[13] Art. 21, Subpara. 1 (f); Art. 211,  
. 4; Art. 194, Subpara. 3 (b)

[14] Art. 211, Para . 4, Art. 24,   
[15] Art. 38,  

[16] Art. 42, Subpara.1 (b),
Art. 233, Art. 192-206; remain applicable,    
[18] Art. 233, applicable only to straits
Art. 53,   
[20] Art. 54 and 42, Subpara 1(b)
[21] Art. 211, Para . 5 
[22] Art. 211, Para . 6,    
Art. 234 

In exercising sovereignty in the territorial sea, the coastal states can take measures in regard to accidents, emergencies, safety of operations and discharge, and so on, except with respect to design, construction, manning, or equipment of foreign vessels on innocent passage.[13] National measures may not hamper the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.[14] Where a ship is exercising its right of transit passage[15] through straits, the bordering states may adopt laws only in respect to discharge of oil and similar substances[16] and can only in part apply the provisions of Part XII.[17] Archipelagic states, on the other hand, can apply Part XII[18] for vessels in archipelagic sea lane passage,[19] but in adopting laws have to keep in mind that the regulations for sea lane passage refer only to discharge.[20]



For its exclusive economic zone, a coastal state may adopt only laws which give effect to generally accepted international rules, [21] but may also tighten such rules for a particular, clearly defined area of the exclusive economic zone[22] and in ice-covered areas.[23]  

[1] Art. 91,   [2] Art. 2,   [3] Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (b) (iii),   [4] Art. 211, Para . 1,   [5] e.g. Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships(MARPOL),   [6] Art. 237,   [7] Art. 211, Para . 1,   [8] Art. 211, Para . 2,   [9] Art. 194, Subpara. 3(b),   [10] Art. 211, Para . 3,   [11] Art. 211, Para . 3,    [12] Art. 220, Para 4, Art. 211, Para . 7,   [13] Art. 21, Subpara. 1 (f); Art. 211, Para . 4; Art. 194, Subpara. 3 (b),   [14] Art. 211, Para . 4, Art. 24,   [15] Art. 38,   [16] Art. 42, Subpara.1 (b),    [17] Art. 233, Art. 192-206; remain applicable,    [18] Art. 233 applicable only to straits,   [19] Art. 53,   [20] Art. 54 and 42, Subpara. 1 (b),   [21] Art. 211, Para . 5 ,   [22] Art. 211, Para . 6,    [23] Art. 234  

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

Next page 68-69

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 




Online – Edition

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


Click here

Bernaerts Guide -UNCLOS 1982

English and Russian
Click here

Link to ToC






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.


Last update 31 December 2012

Main Sites on Climate Change during World Wars
Book 2012:

Arctic Warming 1919 – A World War I Issue

  Books 2005/06
Book 2005:
Ditto (short version):
 Booklet 2006:
Booklet in Russian 2006:

Reference SEA-LAW (UNCLOS) links : , ,

Material in German

Miscellaneous , ,