Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
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Book page 88-89


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 Annex V - Section 1

Conciliation Procedure - UNCLOS 1982States are urged to settle disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention by peaceful means[1], by exchanging their views, and by negotiations[2]. As an additional or alternative step, a state may invite the other party to institute conciliation proceedings[3], which will be held only if the invited state accepts[4]. Conciliation proceedings instituted before a five-member conciliation commission[5] can solve the dispute only by means of an agreement between the parties[6], as the power of the commission is restricted to hearing the parties, examining their claims and objections, and making proposals to the parties with the view of reaching an amicable settlement[7].  Such proposals may be made at any time during the proceedings, but if this is not possible (or reasonable), the commission is to prepare a report within twelve months of its constitution for deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the report is to include any recommendations the commission may consider appropriate for an amicable settlement of the dispute[8]. The Secretary-General then notifies the parties concerned, who have three months to accept the commission's recommendations[9]. In any case, the report is to record any agreements reached and, failing agreement, the commission's conclusion on all questions of fact or law relevant to the matter in dispute[10].  

[1] Art. 279,  
[2] Art. 283,    
Art. 284, Para . 1,    
Art. 284 , Para . 3,   
AV, Art.3, Subpara. (a),  
[6] AV, Art. 7, Para. 2,   
[7] AV, Art. 5-6,
 [8] AV, Art. 7,    
AV, Art. 7, Para. 1; AV, Art.8,   
AV, Art. 7, Para. 1,   [11] AV, Art. 11-14,  
[12] Art. 297, Subpara.2 (a), 3 (a),    
Art. 297, Subpara. 2 (b), 3 (b),    
[14] Ibid.; AV, Art. 11-14,    
[15] AV, Art. 11-12,
Art. 297, Subpara. 3 (b),   
[17] Art. 297, Subpara. 3 (e),    
AV, Art. 13,   
[19] Art. 298, Subpara. 1 (a),    
Art. 280; 299


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 Annex V - Section 2

Compulsory conciliation[11] is established as obligatory for settlement of disputes in only two areas, namely coastal state sovereign rights in respect to marine scientific research and fisheries, as enumerated by the Convention. The Convention arrives at this result in the following way: although dispute settlement procedure is actually obligatory in these matters as in others, states need not accept this procedure where basic principles are concerned (in fact the most important questions)[12]. However, if a coastal state does not comply with the regulations of the Convention in a variety of matters (in summary: a specific research project in accordance with Articles 246 and 253; fish conservation and management measures; refusal to determine the allowable catch; refusal to determine the surplus in accordance with Articles 62, 69, and 70)[13], the Convention requires at least the institution of compulsory conciliation[14].

The general principles of compulsory conciliation procedure are the same as those for voluntary conciliation given above, but there are two significant differences. First, the conciliation commission is constituted and the proceedings held, regardless of whether the other party to the dispute attends or replies[15]; second, the report of the commission (or its recommendation for an amicable settlement) in fishery cases is to be communicated to the appropriate international organizations[16], a measure which could apply at least some pressure on parties to participate in any conciliation proceedings instituted. But in no case is the conciliation commission to substitute its discretion for that of the coastal state[17]. If the parties disagree as to whether the commission has competence, the commission is to decide the question[18].

Compulsory conciliation procedure can also be chosen as an option in certain types of disputes involving boundary delimitations with opposite or adjacent states in that a state declares in writing that it does not accept dispute settlement procedure for such cases; this declaration is only possible if the state accepts compulsory conciliation procedure in such questions if agreement is not reached in a reasonable time by other methods[19]. It should be noted that the Convention's overriding goal is for states parties to arrive at a peaceful and amicable solution to their disputes, and the parties are given almost complete freedom in their choice of procedure for all kinds of disputes[20].   

[1] Art. 279,   [2] Art. 283,    [3] Art. 284, Para . 1,    [4] Art. 284 , Para . 3,   [5] AV, Art.3, Subpara. (a),   [6] AV, Art. 7, Para. 2,    [7] AV, Art. 5-6,    [8] AV, Art. 7,    [9] AV, Art. 7, Para. 1; AV, Art.8,   [10] AV, Art. 7, Para. 1,   [11] AV, Art. 11-14,   [12] Art. 297, Subpara.2 (a), 3 (a),    [13] Art. 297, Subpara. 2 (b), 3 (b),    [14] Ibid.; AV, Art. 11-14,    [15] AV, Art. 11-12,    [16] Art. 297, Subpara. 3 (b),    [17] Art. 297, Subpara. 3 (e),    [18] AV, Art. 13,    [19] Art. 298, Subpara. 1 (a),    [20] Art. 280; 299

Annex V - Conciliation - UNCLOS 1982

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

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Bloomington, IN 47403, Canada.

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

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


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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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