United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Map depicting the agreed Exclusive Economic Zone boundary between the Philippines and Indonesia. The boundary delimitation between the two archipelagic States was conduc

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes a comprehensive legal framework to govern all activities and uses of the world's seas and oceans. The Convention defines the limits of territorial seas of countries from which they can explore and exploit marine resources.

It was adopted in1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica after nine years of negotiations. UNCLOS entered into force in 16 November 1994. as of January 2015, 166 countries and European Union have joined the Convention. The Philippines is the 11th country that ratified the Convention.
Focal Office:
National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA)
Date Ratified:
Signed the convention on December 10, 1984
Focal Persons:
National Mapping and Resource Information Authority
Tel. No. - (632) 810 5468
Fax No. - (632) 810 5471
Email -
After a State becomes a party to UNCLOS, it is compelled to bring its maritime claims and national laws into conformity with its rights and obligations under the Convention. It is a fundamental principle of international law that a State cannot use its domestic law as an excuse not to conform to its obligations under an international treaty to which it is a party. Hence, the provisionsof UNCLOS prevail over any contrary provisions in the national laws of the State.

The Convention madates member states to promote the development and transfer of marine technology "on fair and reasonable terms and conditions", with proper regard for all legitimate interest.

All parties to the Convention are obligated to settle disputes concerning the application of the Convention through peaceful means. Disputes are coursed through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea under the UNCLOS to the International Court of Justice for srbitration. Conciliation is also available and, in certain circumstances, submission to it would be compulsory.

 A vital function of NAMRIA involves the delineationof the national maritime jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Conventionon the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, matters related to Philippines' maritime dispute with China on the countrys' claim in the West Philippine Sea are dealt with through the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Sources / Relevant Links:


Eight months after the Philippines presented its arguments in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the The Hague, a 501-page decision in favor of the Philippines was promulgated on July 12, 2016. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) invalidated China's nine-dash line maritime claim and concluded that the said claim lacks legal basis. It stated that China's claim is excessive and encroaching into the Philippines' 200-nautical mile EEZ. The Tribunal opined that China violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its EEZ by interfering with fishing and petroleum exploration and and constructing artificial islands. Chinese authorities also did not fulfill their obligation to stop Chienese fishermen from harvesting endangered species in the SouthChina Sea. (Source: In The Matter Of The South China Sea Arbitration, PCA Case No. 2013-19)

Despite the ruling affirming Philippines' rights to the West Philippine Sea, the dispute between the parties still stands because China's refusal to accept the verdict. Meanwhile, the Philippines, through the DFA, expressed its faith in intenational cooperation and international law to protect its right and interests. (Source:
This Page was updated on 19 March 2018 and will be updated on 19 July 2018
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