Soundings Papers: Reflections on the Royal Australian Navy and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982

Sounding No. 3
Sounding No. 3

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Stuart Mayer, Ian Knox, Ivan Shearer

On 16 November 1994, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (LOSC) entered into force. At the time, there were significant concerns regarding the ramifications of LOSC for Australia, and in particular the potential impact on Royal Australian Navy operations in Australia’s immediate maritime environs and distant waters. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of LOSC. In the period since, there have been profound impacts on the operations undertaken by the Royal Australian Navy in support of Australia’s national security interests, territorial sovereignty and in a supporting law enforcement role.

On 18 November 2014, the Sea Power Centre - Australia, in conjunction with the Centre for Military and Security Law at the ANU College of Law, conducted a seminar at Fleet Headquarters to:

  • offer a retrospective consideration of Australia’s negotiating position during the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1973-82)
  • reflect on the operational impact of LOSC over the 20-year period it has been in force
  • consider emerging trends in state practice and good order at sea issues within Australia’s region to identify those factors that might impact on the future employment of the Royal Australian Navy.

The three short papers in this Soundings paper are the keynote speeches from the seminar, outlining the importance of LOSC to the RAN, and personal reflections from attendees at UNCLOS III.