The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the most recent addition to the list of international environmental conventions to which New Zealand is a party. New Zealand ratified UNCLOS in July 1996 after the passage of specific enabling legislation. UNCLOS codifies customary international law about the sea, and sets out states’ various obligations and rights in respect of the sea. It declares that the sea-bed, ocean floor and subsoil are beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, but that their exploitation shall be carried out for the benefit of mankind as a whole. The Convention outlines states’ obligations and responsibilities in relation to different areas:
A significant aspect of UNCLOS is its incorporation of the principle of “common heritage of mankind”. This is similar to the “intergenerational equity” and “global responsibility” principles contained in the Rio Declaration.
Last updated: 17 September 2007