Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS)

Introduction to the Outcomes of the 2022 NCLOS Conference on Ocean Space

By: Mana Elise Tugend, Ingrid Solstad Andreassen, Bastiaan Klerk, Nikolaos Gkikas, and Konstantinos Deligiannis Virvos

Matter commented on: NCLOS Conference on Ocean Space, 23-24 November 2022, Tromsø, Norway.


It is commonly known that ocean spaces and marine ecosystems are connected in complex and multiscale ways, but the biological and ecological connectivity of oceans is not sufficiently accounted for in the current legal regime. The UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (LOSC) causes fragmentation of the legal regime by a zonal approach dividing the ocean space into different maritime zones and subsuming each of the fragmented parts to separate legal regimes. The current socio-environmental challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution and ocean acidification also raise several systemic challenges pushing for the problematization of the relevant legal framework applied to the ocean space.

Against this background, the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea (NCLOS) organized a two-day conference, from 23-24 November 2022, to discuss the various challenges rising with respect to ocean space. The objective of the conference was to address important questions regarding the current relationship between law, sea and space, and prompt legal scholars to interrogate and problematize the current Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance Framework (LOSOG), the Law of the Sea Convention and its key principles, as well as the spatial-legal architecture delineating ocean space in discrete maritime zones.

The Conference consisted of two keynote presentations provided by Alexander Proelß and Marit Reigstad and five panels, sparking interesting discussions and new insight on the pressing issues currently relating to the zonal architecture of the ocean space. Panel 1 focused on ‘Ocean space and climate change’. Panel 2 examined the theme of ‘Transcending borders: Ecosystem-based [and integrated] ocean governance’. Panel 3 dealt with ‘Spatiality and law across sectors’. The fourth panel tackled the topic of ‘Ocean space, dynamism, and law.’ The last panel focused on ‘Conceptualizing ocean space.’

The full conference report is available here.

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