Netherlands, Utrecht

Introduction to the International Law of the Sea

when 26 August 2019 - 30 August 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1.5 ECTS
fee EUR 500

Oceans are essential for maintaining life on earth. Their resources are increasingly important to the world economy; 90% of international trade is seaborne. The current regime for the oceans is built on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS). This framework convention divides the oceans in coastal state maritime zones and international areas. In all these areas the legal regime seeks to maintain a balance between the rights, interests and obligations of individual states and the international community’s interests. In this course, an intro is provided to the law that regulates the oceans.

This course will introduce the students to the law of the sea. Oceans are essential for maintaining life on earth, their resources are increasingly important to the world economy and 90% of all international trade is seaborne. Creating an effective governance and regulatory regime for the oceans continues to be a challenge for the international community. The current regime for the oceans is built on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS). This framework convention divides the oceans in various coastal state maritime zones and international areas. In all these areas the legal regime seeks to maintain a balance between the rights, interests and obligations of individual states and the international community’s interests. During the summer school we will be presenting you with this legal regime.
A short overview of the history of the law of the sea will be provided, and its codification in international law. After the introductory lecture, particular core issues of the law of the sea will be examined in more detail. We will look at the maritime zones, their extent, substantive regime (including the rights of third States), and maritime boundary delimitation in case of overlapping claims. We will also introduce the students to the international legal framework regulating merchant shipping. And we will see whether law is an effective tool for marine environmental protection. We will look in particular at international fisheries law, and the law regulating the exploitation of non-living resources within and beyond national jurisdiction. Another topic is that of human rights at sea. This includes the controversial issue of the rights of refugees and migrants at sea. Another session will be devoted to dispute settlement in the law of the sea. We will conclude with a session on future developments of the law of the sea, including the feasibility of the development of an instrument for the governance of areas beyond national jurisdiction. During the course we will also be discussing recent developments such as the seminal award in the South China Sea arbitration.

Course leader

Prof. dr. Alex Oude Elferink

Fee info

EUR 500: Course fee
EUR 200: Housing fee

Register for this course
on course website