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UN Convention on the Law of the Sea inquiry launched

15 October 2021

The International Relations and Defence Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The inquiry will consider the extent to which the UNCLOS it is fit for purpose in 2021. It will examine the enforcement of UNCLOS, its dispute resolution mechanisms, and the extent to which is has proved able to adapt to new and emerging challenges, including climate change, autonomous maritime systems, and issues of human rights and human security at sea. It will explore the UK’s current policy towards UNCLOS and approach in practice, and consider which international partners and alliances will be important for the UK to address these challenges and uphold its interests.

Focus of the inquiry

The Committee is seeking evidence on issues including:

  • Enforcement of UNCLOS and the success of its dispute resolution mechanisms
  • The role of the International Maritime Organisation
  • New and emerging challenges facing the effective implementation of UNCLOS, including:
    • Climate change
    • Maritime security and human rights at sea
    • Autonomous maritime vehicles
    • The regulation of access to economic resources
  • The UK’s current policy and practice, and recommendations for future priorities

For the full list of issues on which the Committee is seeking written evidence, please refer to the call for evidence.


Written evidence is sought by Friday 12 November 2021. The first oral evidence session will be held on Wednesday 20 October at 10am.

Further information

Image: MOD