Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
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Book page 90-91


 Section: Annex VI - Link to Full Text


Tribunal for the Law of the Sea - UNCLOS 1982The Tribunal is one of the four fora among which state parties may choose within the compulsory dispute settlement system of the Convention[1] whenever the interpretation or application of the Convention is in question[2]; parties may also call upon the Tribunal in a dispute arising from treaties or conventions already in force concerning subject matters covered by this Convention, if the parties agree to do so[3]. The Tribunal's position will ultimately depend upon the reputation it earns for itself, but its greatest significance from the beginning will be related to the compulsory jurisdiction in matters concerning deep-sea mining in the Area for its sub-chamber, the Sea-Bed Disputes Chamber[4], to which all concerned (state parties, the Sea-Bed Authority, the Enterprise, state enterprises, and natural or juridical persons) have access[5], and its final jurisdiction in matters of release from detention of crews and vessels, if the states concerned have not otherwise agreed[6].

The Tribunal has twenty-one members[7] elected by the states parties[8] for nine-year terms; in order to provide for staggered terms, at the first election seven of the members will be elected for only three years and another seven members for only six years.[9] The members are to be elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness, integrity, and competence[10] and are to be independent and avoid incompatible activities.[11] Each member is to declare solemnly that he will exercise his power impartially and conscientiously.[12] Due regard is to be given to geographical representation in the Tribunal and no more than one national of any one state may be elected.[13] The Tribunal elects its President and Vice-President and appoints a Registrar.[14] The sessions of the Tribunal are to be held as far as possible with all twenty-one members in attendance, but a minimum of eleven members is necessary to constitute the Tribunal.[15]

[1] Art. 287,   
AVI, Art.21; Art. 286; Art. 288, Para 1,    
[3] AVI, Art.22,    
[4] AVI, Art. 35-40; Art. 288, Para . 2,   
[5] Art. 187,    
[6] Art. 292,    
[7] AVI, Art. 2,
[8] AVI, Art. 4,    
AVI, Art. 5,   
[10] AVI, Art. 2,   
[11] AVI, Art. 7-9; AVI, Art. 17,   
[12] AVI, Art. 11,    
[13] AVI, Art. 2-3,    
AVI, Art. 12, 
[15] AVI, Art. 13, Para. 1,   
[16] AVI, Art. 24,   
AVI, Art. 32,   
[18] AVI, Art, 16,    
[19] AVI, Art. 26,   
[20] AVI, Art. 25; Art. 290,    
AVI, Art. 27,  
[22] AVI, Art. 28,   
[23] AVI, Art.; AVI, Art. 32, Para.3,   
[24] AVI, Art. 29,    
[25] AVI,  Art. 30,    
[26] AVI, Art. 33; Art. 296,   
[27] AVI, Art. 31, Para. 3

Proceedings before the Tribunal are instituted when a dispute is submitted to the Tribunal either by notification of a special agreement or by written application.[16] If the dispute concerns interpretation or application of this Convention, the Registrar notifies all states parties; if an international agreement is in question, he notifies all parties to the agreement[17]. The Tribunal itself is responsible for laying down rules of procedure;[18] the Convention provides that the hearings are to be public and under the control of the President of the Tribunal.[19] The Tribunal may prescribe provisional measures[20] and is to make orders for the conduct of the case.[21] If one of the parties does not appear or refuses to participate, the other party may request that proceedings continue.[22] Every state which has a legal interest in a decision may submit an intervention request.[23] Decisions of the Tribunal are made by majority vote[24] and the reasons on which the judgement is based must be given; the judgement must be read in open court.[25] Decisions other than in provisional matters are final and are binding on the states parties of the dispute[26] and for an intervening state in so far as the decision relates to matters in respect of which that state intervened.[27]   

[1] Art. 287,   [2] AVI, Art.21; Art. 286; Art. 288, Para 1,    [3] AVI, Art.22,    [4] AVI, Art. 35-40; Art. 288, Para . 2,    [5] Art. 187,    [6] Art. 292,    [7] AVI, Art. 2,    [8] AVI, Art. 4,    [9] AVI, Art. 5,   [10] AVI, Art. 2,    [11] AVI, Art. 7-9; AVI, Art. 17,    [12] AVI, Art. 11,    [13] AVI, Art. 2-3,    [14] AVI, Art. 12,    [15] AVI, Art. 13, Para. 1,    [16] AVI, Art. 24,    [17] AVI, Art. 32,    [18] AVI, Art, 16,    [19] AVI, Art. 26,    [20] AVI, Art. 25; Art. 290,    [21] AVI, Art. 27,    [22] AVI, Art. 28,    [23] AVI, Art.; AVI, Art. 32, Para.3,    [24] AVI, Art. 29,    [25] AVI,  Art. 30,    [26] AVI, Art. 33; Art. 296,    [27] AVI, Art. 31, Para. 3

Tribunal - UNCLOS 1982

Next page 92

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;

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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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