"UNCLOS rules the waves"

The twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Montego Bay Convention -
State of affairs and challenges ahead.

Thursday and Friday November 13-14, 2014, Ghent, Belgium

Theme of the Conference

Twelve years after its adoption at Montego Bay (Jamaica), the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) finally entered into force on 16 November 1994. With its 320 articles and nine annexes, spanning all aspects of ocean space, such as delimitation, environmental control, marine scientific research, economic and commercial activities, transfer of technology and the settlement of disputes relating to ocean matters, UNCLOS constitutes a true 'constitution of the oceans'. Measuring by the number of States Parties (more than 165), its built-in compulsory dispute settlement mechanism and its influence on the international legal order, UNCLOS is undeniably one of the most important international instruments ever to be drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations.

Twenty years after the Convention's entry into force, the time is ripe to pause at its success in governing the use of the oceans, but also to look ahead and to examine to what extent the Convention and its dispute settlement regime are properly equipped to withstand the various challenges ahead, including, for instance, China's territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, the fight against piracy, the 'scramble for the Arctic', future exploitation of the deep sea bed, ocean pollution, the (ab)use(?) of the UNCLOS dispute settlement regime for purposes of settling disputes, etc.

Against this background, the conference brings together several distinguished scholars (EU and non-EU) as well as practitioners and civil servants, both national and international, to broach the key underlying issues from a legal as well as a more policy-oriented perspective.

Four different panels, each composed of four panelists and one chairperson, will respectively address (1) the importance of UNCLOS for the maintenance of international peace and security, (2) its importance for the global economy, (3) for the protection of the (marine) environment, and (4) the Convention's compulsory dispute settlement mechanism. A separate keynote lecture will address the United States position vis-à-vis the Convention.

Practical information

Contact information: Kristien Ballegeer

Organising team:

Our sponsors:

Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique - FNRS


With the support of: