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Law of the Sea




Admissions requirements

Required: Public International Law + either International Environmental Law or International Dispute Settlement (no exceptions will be made)

Recommended: Sovereignty and Statehood + Legal Methods


This course is dedicated to the law of the sea, i.e. the law that regulates the activities of States and certain other actors and their interactions regarding maritime matters.

This course starts by highlighting the main landmarks that shaped the history of the law of the sea and subsequently focusses on the contemporary legal regime governing maritime areas which consists in great part of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS). Studying the UNCLOS will allow students to pay close attention to the rules governing the different jurisdictional zones of the ocean, the navigation of ships, the exploitation of living and non-living resources and maritime boundary delimitation.

This course also covers the status of land-locked and geographically disadvantaged states and addresses also the relevant international institutional framework, most notably the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

This course also addresses dispute settlement by analysing landmark, recent, and ongoing disputes pertaining to the law of the sea as a means to identify contemporary legal challenges and as an opportunity look at a specific set of legal issues in greater depth and in context.

This course will not cover ‘maritime’ law which focuses on the relations between entities and individuals regarding maritime transport, insurance, and liability. This course will also limit itself to covering the law of the sea applicable in peacetime.

Course objectives

After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  • describe and explain prevalent legal concepts under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

  • conduct research on the theoretical underpinnings of such concepts and apply them to real-life situations, including the tension between state sovereignty and international cooperation at play within maritime areas

  • Interpret and analyse fact patterns and formulate (preliminary) assessments regarding the law of the sea, including in the framework of its dispute settlement mechanisms

  • strategically assess the practical implications of the law of the sea


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course adopts a lecture format while actively encouraging student participation, as well as incorporate educational excursions and guest lectures from practitioners in relevant fields where possible. Active knowledge is required of the topics covered in mandatory prerequisite courses and in the compulsory readings for this course. The topics seen in class need to be well understood as they will form the basis of the final exam which will consist of the application of theoretical knowledge to a practical case study. Students will need to demonstrate initiative and exercise independent legal thinking abilities as they will be asked to write a policy brief focusing on a topic of their choosing among the topics related to the law of the sea. In writing this brief, students will also develop their synthesizing and team-working skills.


In-class participation and debate leadership (15%)
In-class pop-quizzes (4x 5%)
Policy brief (25%)
Final exam (40%)

Students must complete all assignments and exams. Unless there are extenuating circumstances which have been accepted as such by the course convenor in advance of the deadline of the assignment, not finishing an assessment component will automatically result in an F in the entire course.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Students are required to buy the following textbook:

Yoshifumi Tanaka, The International Law of the Sea (2nd edn, Cambridge University Press, 2015), ISBN: 9781107439672

Additional articles and other readings, insofar as necessary, will be made available electronically via the course website on Blackboard, or, where allowed under copyright laws, via weblinks.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Joris Larik
Assistant Professor for Comparative, EU and International Law
LUC Den Haag (AVB 301)
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG Den Haag


Readings will need to be completed prior to the first session and will be indicated in the course syllabus which will be circulated prior to the first session.