The Declaration of Principles Governing the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor, and the Subsoil Thereof, Beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction, often referred to as the “Declaration of Principles,” is a significant international agreement related to the law of the sea. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1970 and serves as a foundation for the development of subsequent treaties and legal frameworks.
The Declaration of Principles establishes a set of principles and guidelines for the peaceful exploration and use of the sea-bed and ocean floor beyond the jurisdiction of any individual country. Here are the key principles outlined in the declaration:
- Common Heritage of Mankind: The sea-bed and ocean floor, along with their resources, are declared to be the common heritage of mankind, irrespective of any political or territorial considerations. All nations and peoples have the right to benefit from and participate in the exploration and exploitation of these resources.
- International Organization: The declaration calls for the establishment of an international organization to administer the sea-bed beyond national jurisdiction, known as the International Seabed Authority (ISA). The ISA is responsible for managing the resources and activities in this area in accordance with the principles of the common heritage of mankind.
- Freedom of the High Seas: The declaration emphasizes the freedom of all states to navigate and conduct scientific research on the high seas, including the sea-bed and ocean floor beyond national jurisdiction. However, this freedom should be exercised with due regard for the interests of other states and in compliance with international law.
- Cooperation and Benefit Sharing: The declaration encourages cooperation among states to promote the rational and equitable use of the resources of the sea-bed and ocean floor. It emphasizes the importance of sharing benefits derived from such activities with all states and particularly with developing countries, to promote their socio-economic development.
- Environmental Protection: The declaration recognizes the need for effective protection of the marine environment in the area beyond national jurisdiction. States are called upon to take appropriate measures to prevent, reduce, and control pollution and other environmental degradation resulting from exploration and exploitation activities.
Since the adoption of the Declaration of Principles, subsequent agreements have been negotiated to address specific aspects of the law of the sea, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was adopted in 1982. UNCLOS expanded on the principles outlined in the Declaration and provided a comprehensive legal framework for the management of the world’s oceans, including the establishment of exclusive economic zones and continental shelf boundaries.
It’s worth noting that my training data only goes up until September 2021, so there might have been developments or changes in the interpretation and application of the Declaration of Principles since then.