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United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: Lords Committee launches call for evidence and announces first evidence session of new inquiry

Friday 15 October 2021

The House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee has today launched an inquiry into the current operational effectiveness of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The inquiry will consider whether UNCLOS, which came into force in 1994, remains fit for purpose in 2021 by looking at various aspects of its operation, including the enforcement of UNCLOS and whether it has been able to adapt to tackle emerging challenges such as climate change, human rights and human security at sea, autonomous maritime vehicles and the regulation of access to economic resources. The Committee will also examine the UK’s current policy towards UNCLOS and consider which international partners and alliances play a role in addressing these challenges and helping the UK to uphold its interests.

The full call for evidence and details of how to submit evidence are available on the Committee website and submissions of written evidence should be received by 12 November 2021.

On Wednesday 20 October 2021, the Committee will hold its first evidence session which will start at 10am and will be available to watch live or on demand at Parliament TV.

Giving evidence will be:


  • Professor Steven Haines, Professor of Public International Law, University of Greenwich; and
  • Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Professor of Public International Law, Queen Mary University of London.


  • Professor Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law, University of Bristol.

Questions will include:

  • What were the reasons behind the development of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea? Why was it established? What, if anything, did it replace?
  • What have been the main successes and accomplishments of UNCLOS over the past 40 years? Would you say that the Convention is fit for purpose in 2021?
  • Experts often call UNCLOS a ‘living treaty’. What does it mean in practice? How does UNCLOS relate to other bodies of law, such as customary international law? What are the other important international agreements and treaties complementing UNCLOS?
  • Which countries are the key international actors influencing the international law of the sea? What are their approaches towards UNCLOS?
  • What is the UK’s current policy and its approach in practice? What should be the priorities for the UK Government regarding the future of UNCLOS and the international law of the sea?

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