The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was open for signature between December 1982 and December 1984, established a legal regime governing activities on, over, and under the world's oceans. The Convention resulted from the third U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea, which met for a total of 93 weeks between December 1973 and December 1982. The United States and other industrialised countries, however, while supporting most of the treaty, did not sign the Convention or announced they could not ratify the Convention without important changes to the parts that dealt with deep seabed resources beyond national jurisdiction. In 1990, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar initiated consultations among interested governments aimed at achieving universal participation in the Convention. From late 1992 on, pressures mounted to revise or amend what were viewed as unacceptable parts of the Convention.
Factors contributing to this renewed pressure included the desire for universal participation in a convention that in most respects was acceptable world-wide, improvements in the international political climate, changes in economic ideology that meant greater acceptance of free market principles, and the steady increase in the number of ratifications toward the 60 required to bring the convention into force. This book presents the text of the original convention and articles related to the Sea plus a special bibliography on the subject.