Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
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Book page 36-37  

Section: Part V, Articles 55-75


Rights and Duties in EEZ - UNCLOS  1982The Convention gives coastal states the right to establish by proclamation an exclusive economic zone beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea[1]. This zone can extend to a maximum of 200 nautical miles, measured from the baseline used for determing the breadth of the territorial sea[2]. If the sea is not open for this distance, agreements are to be made with opposite or adjacent coastal states, a matter which can be excepted from compulsory dispute settlement.[3] The coastal state is to publish charts showing the zone and deposit a copy with the UN Secretary-General.[4] Within this zone of a maximum breadth of 188 nautical miles, the coastal state has sovereign rights for specific purposes,[5] but does not have sovereignty comparable with that which it enjoys in its territory or in the territorial sea; rather, it has - in the scope of the Convention provisions -sovereign rights related to resources and jurisdiction in respect to artificial installations, marine scientific research, and marine environment protection[6]. In granting these rights, however, the Convention also charges the coastal states with certain responsibilities and duties. Many of the regulatory provisions governing this section are not to be found here at all; instead, they are in other sections of the Convention, most notably in Part XII, regulations for the prevention of pollution, and in Part XIII, which regulates scientific research. Rights with respect to the sea­bed and its subsoil[7] are to be exercised in accordance with the regulatory provisions of Part VI, Continental Shelf[8]. Part V contains three groups of provisions: 
___(a) general rights as mentioned and the corresponding duty to give due regard to the rights and duties of other states[9] ___(b) fisheries (see next chapter), and
___(c) a detailed provision concerning artificial islands (see below). The greatest impact comes from the sovereign rights of the coastal state to explore and exploit all living and non-living resources, from the subsoil to the wind[10].

[1] Art. 55 ,   
[2] Art. 57; Art. 5-16 ,    
Art. 74; Art. 298 (1)(a) ,    
Art. 75, Para . 2 ,    
[5] Art. 55, 56 ,   
[6] Art. 56, Para . 1 ,    
Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (a)
[8] Art. 56, Para . 3 ,    
[9] Art. 56, Para . 2; Art. 59 ,   
[10] Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (a) ,    
[11] Art. 58, Para . 1 ,    
Art. 58, Para . 2; Art. 88-115 ,   
[13] Art. 58, Para . 1-2 ,   
[14] Art. 58, Para . 3
[15] Art. 58, Para . 2 ; Art. 88 ,   
[16] Art. 60, Para . 1 ,    
Art. 60, Para . 2 ,   
[18] Art. 60, Para . 3-7; Art. 260-262 ,    
[19] Art. 59 ,     
Preamble, last paragraph ,    
Art. 297, Para . 1  

However, the interests of other states are of no lesser significance, particularly with regard to navigation. Part V therefore includes provisions for the freedom of navigation and overflight, for the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and other lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms[11]. These freedoms can basically be exercised as on the high seas[12] but always in a manner compatible with applicable provisions of the Convention[13] and states must respect the coastal state's rights and duties when acting in its exclusive economic zone[14]. Consequently, the exclusive economic zone has to be treated as an ocean area which "shall be reserved for peaceful purposes[15].

The coastal state has the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation, and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures[16], including jurisdiction in respect to customs, fiscal, health, safety, and immigration laws[17]. Due care is to be given to navigation matters[18]. 

Conflicts arising from the failure of the Convention to attribute rights or jurisdiction to a coastal state or to designate areas as being governed by the "freedom of the seas" are to be solved on the basis of equity and in the light of all the relevant circumstances[19], bearing in mind that matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by rules and principles of general international law[20] But the common uses of the ocean (navigation, overflight, laying of cables) are always subject to compulsory dispute settlement[21].  

[1] Art. 55 ,   [2] Art. 57; Art. 5-16 ,    [3] Art. 74; Art. 298 (1)(a) ,    [4] Art. 75, Para . 2 ,    [5] Art. 55, 56 ,    [6] Art. 56, Para . 1 ,    [7] Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (a) ,    [8] Art. 56, Para . 3 ,    [9] Art. 56, Para . 2; Art. 59 ,    [10] Art. 56, Subpara. 1 (a) ,    [11] Art. 58, Para . 1 ,    [12] Art. 58, Para . 2; Art. 88-115 ,    [13] Art. 58, Para . 1-2 ,    [14] Art. 58, Para . 3 ,   [15] Art. 58, Para . 2 ; Art. 88 ,    [16] Art. 60, Para . 1 ,    [17] Art. 60, Para . 2 ,    [18] Art. 60, Para . 3-7; Art. 260-262 ,    [19] Art. 59 ,     [20] Preamble, last paragraph ,    [21] Art. 297, Para . 1

Further Reading :   
- Coastal state. (Commentary) 
- Exclusive Economic Zone. (Commentary) 
- Artificial Islands and Structures. (Commentary)  

 - Marine Scientific Research. (Commentary)

 Next page 38-39

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


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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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