Bernaerts' Guide _UNCLOS 1982
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Book page 96-99

The Document in PDF

The "Final Act" document is self-explanatory; it records the organization and operation of the Conference, beginning with the UN General Assembly decision of December 17, 1970, continuing through the convening of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1973, and finishing with the signing of the Final Act by 140 representatives of states and other Conference participants in Montego Bay on December 10, 1982. (This must not be confused with the signing of the Convention itself in accordance with Article 305, an act performed by 117 states on the same day.) In general, the signing of the Final Act is purely formal and does not create any treaty obligations. The Resolutions I-IV contained in Annex I to the Final Act, however, are an exception, as the Conference considered the resolutions to be an integral whole with the Convention,[1] especially in regard to the "Preparatory Commission" and "Pioneer Activities" discussed below.



As it was clear that considerable time would pass between the closing of the Conference and the entry into force of the Convention, it was seen as desirable to establish the Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed Authority and. for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to make use of the interim period. The Commission's work was to commence as soon as fifty states had signed the Convention,[2] which, as previously mentioned, was already the case in Montego Bay on December 10, 1982 . All states which have signed the Convention have the right to participate through their representatives in the Commission, including the right of participation in the taking of decisions; states which have signed only the Final Act may participate fully in deliberations, but not in the taking of decisions.[3] The Commission held its first meeting in March 1983 and its first session in August/September 1983; it has since been working continuously. Five special committees were established with the following tasks:   

1 Final Act, Para . 42 
2 RI, Para . 1
RI, Para.. 2
RI, Para. 9; Subpara. 5(i)
5 RI, Para. 8     

6 RI, Para. 7, Subpara. 5(g) 
RI, Para. 7&10
RI, Subpara. 5(a-f)
RI, Subpara. 5(h)

10 RI, Para. 13  
RI, Para. 11 
12 Art. 308, Para. 4 
RI, para. 10  
AVI, Art. I  

(a) Dealing with problems of developing land-based producers of nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese which might be affected by deep-sea mining;[4] 

(b) Preparing rules, regulations, and other measures for an early commencement of operations by the Enterprise ;[5]

(c)  Preparing a sea-bed mining code;[6]

(d)  Making preparations for the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.[7]

(e) Preparations for the Assembly, Council, Commission, and Secretariat of the Sea-Bed Authority[8] and for matters concerning pioneer activities[9] are made by the plenary session or its general committee.  

As the Preparatory Commission is to follow the rules and procedure of the Third UN Conference 1973-1982, it attains the importance - within the scope of its task - of a “continuous mini-conference”, although with the significant distinction that states which have not signed the Convention have the status only of observers. The Commission is to remain in existence until the conclusion of the first session of the Assembly of the Sea-Bed Authority,[10] at which time the Preparatory Commission is to present a final report to the Assembly on all matters within its mandate.[11] When the Convention enters into force, the rules, regulations, and procedures drafted by the Commission are to apply provisionally pending their formal adoption by the Authority.[12]

A separate report is to be prepared regarding the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, containing recommendations for a meeting of the states parties for the nomination and election of the members of the Tribunal.[13] The Commission's report could possibly include the re­commendation to choose another seat in place of Hamburg [14] for the Tribunal if the Federal Republic of Germany has at that point not yet become state party to the Convention.

Footnotes for this section in box below   

The regime for "pioneer activities" was established to permit investments for activities in the Area[1] and to ensure immediate commencement of mining activities upon entry into force of the Convention. It emerged from the requests of industrialized states for a safeguard for the considerable investments which had already been made by some companies and consortia, with the intention of giving these pioneers priority with respect to other - non-pioneer - investors for the recovery of investments as soon as possible after the conclusion of the 1973-1982 Conference. Other states, especially from among the developing countries, were keenly interested in preserving the main principles of the regime for the deep-sea Area. The pioneer regime is to remain in effect until the entry into force of the Convention,[2] although the events of this interim period will continue to have an influence long after that point.[3] The resolution provides that companies, consortia, state enterprises, and the like which invested at least US$30 million before 1983 or, in particular cases, before 1985[4] may under certain conditions apply to the Preparatory Com­mission for registration as a "pioneer investor" and for registration of a "pioneer area"[5] which may not exceed 150,000 square kilometers.[6] The conditions for registration concern the status of the sponsoring state as a signatory to the Convention,[7] a certification of the level of pioneer expenditures[8], and the assurance that claims of applicants do not overlap[9]. Three years after allocation of a "pioneer area", 20% of the same reverts to the Area, an additional 10% within another two years, and an additional 20% later on.[10]

[1] Preamble of RII,   
[2] RII, Para.14,   
[3] Art. 308, Para. 5,   
RII, Subpara. 1(a),  
[5] RII, Para. 2-3,   
[6] RII, Subpara. 1(e),   
[7] RII, Para.2,    
[8] RII, Subpara. 2 (a),  
[9] RII, Para. 5,   
[10] RII, Subpara. 1(e),   
[11] RII, Subpara. 1(b),   
[12] RII, Para. 8; AIII, Art. 6,    
RII, Subpara. 9(a)(Art. 151),   
[14] RII, Para . 13 (Art. 308, Para. 5),  
[15] RII, Subpara. 8(a); Para. 9,    
RII,,    Subpara. 8(c),  
[17] RII, Para. 10,  
[18] RII, Subpara. 7(a-b),  
[19] RII, Para . 12,   
[20] Preamble of RII,    
RII, Subpara. 12(b),   
[22] Art. 170, Para . 4; AIV, Art. 11   

Once a pioneer investor has been registered, he may carry out pioneer activities, which include all preliminary measures for exploitation,[11] but exclude commencement of commercial production, which may only take place when, after entry into force of the Convention, the Sea-Bed Authority has approved the plan of work[12] and issued a production authorization[13]. The Authority must give due regard to decisions made by the Preparatory Commission.[14] Only pioneer investors from states which are parties to the Convention will be approved to begin operations in the Area.[15] The "rights" of pioneer investors from other states will be terminated after a short time;[16] however, this lapse of rights can be prevented if the pioneer investor changes its nationality and sponsorship to a state party to the Convention within a certain period of time.[17] Prior to the commencement of commercial operations, the pioneer investor is required to pay a certain fee[18] and, at the request of the Preparatory Commission, carry out exploration (costs to be reimbursed) in the reserved area, provide training, and perform Convention obligations related to the transfer of technology[19] in order to ensure that the Enterprise is able to keep pace with states and other entities with respect to activities in the Area.[20] Every state which has certified the level of pioneer expenditures is to ensure that the necessary operating funds for the Enterprise are made available when the Convention enters into force,[21] an obligation to which all states parties will be subject to one degree or another on that future day[22]

[1] Preamble of RII,   [2] RII, Para.14,   [3] Art. 308, Para. 5,   [4] RII, Subpara. 1(a),   [5] RII, Para. 2-3,   [6] RII, Subpara. 1(e),   [7] RII, Para.2,    [8] RII, Subpara. 2 (a),   [9] RII, Para. 5,   [10] RII, Subpara. 1(e),    [11] RII, Subpara. 1(b),    [12] RII, Para. 8; AIII, Art. 6,    [13] RII, Subpara. 9(a)(Art. 151),    [14] RII, Para . 13 (Art. 308, Para. 5),    [15] RII, Subpara. 8(a); Para. 9,    [16] RII,,    Subpara. 8(c),    [17] RII, Para. 10,   [18] RII, Subpara. 7(a-b),   [19] RII, Para . 12,    [20] Preamble of RII,    [21] RII, Subpara. 12(b),    [22] Art. 170, Para . 4; AIV, Art. 11  

NEXT: page 101 to 131

"Introduction to the Evolution of the New Convention on the Law of the Sea"

A. States and Organizations
B. Zones and Areas
C. Activities on the Oceans
D. Prevebntion Measures
E. Measures for Peace and Justice

Return to: Table of Contents








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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