Law of the Sea Law and Legal Definition

Law of the sea is a part of the international law pertaining to the rights over high seas. It is a body of international law proclaimed by United Nations convention and covering a wide range of matters including territorial zones, access to and transit on the sea, preservation of environment, and resolution of international disputes.

The first U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea, held at Geneva in 1958, led to the codification of four treaties that dealt with some spheres of the law of the sea.

In 1982, 117 nations signed the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It governed all aspects of ocean space, such as delimitation, environmental control, economic and commercial activities, marine scientific research, transfer of technology and the settlement of disputes relating to ocean matters. Any legal disputes concerning the treaty and its provisions may be determined by arbitration, by the new tribunal for the law of the sea, or by the International Court of Justice.