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SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Article 86. Application of the provisions
of this Part
The provisions of this Part apply to
all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic
zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State,
or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State. This article
does not entail any abridgement of the freedoms enjoyed by all States
in the exclusive economic zone in accordance with article 58.
Article 87. Freedom of the high
1. The high seas are open to all States,
whether coastal or land locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised
under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules
of international law. It comprises, inter alia, both for coastal
and land-locked States:
(a) freedom of navigation;
(b) freedom of overflight;
(c) freedom to lay submarine cables
and pipelines, subject to Part VI;
(d) freedom to construct artificial
islands and other installations permitted under international law, subject
to Part VI;
(e) freedom of fishing, subject to
the conditions laid down in section 2;
(f ) freedom of scientific research,
subject to Parts VI and XIII.
2. These freedoms shall be exercised
by all States with due regard for the interests of other States in
their exercise of the freedom of the high seas, and also with due
regard for the rights under this Con vention with respect to activities
in the Area.
Article 88. Reservation of the
high seas for peaceful purposes
The high seas shall be reserved for
Article 89. Invalidity of claims
of sovereignty over the high seas
No State may validly purport to subject
any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.
Article 90. Right of navigation
Every State, whether coastal or land-locked,
has the right to sail ships flying its flag on the high seas.
Article 91. Nationality of ships
1. Every State shall fix the conditions
for the grant of its nationality to ships, for the registration of
ships in its territory, and for the right to fly its flag. Ships
have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to
fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship.
2. Every State shall issue to ships
to which it has granted the right to fly its flag documents to that effect.
Article 92. Status of ships
1. Ships shall sail under the flag of
one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided
for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject
to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas. A ship may not change
its flag during a voyage or while in a port of call, save in the
case of a real transfer of ownership or change of registry.
2. A ship which sails under the flags
of two or more States, using them according to convenience, may not
claim any of the nationalities in question with respect to any other
State, and may be assimilated to a ship without nationality.
Article 93. Ships flying the flag
of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and the International Atomic
The preceding articles do not prejudice
the question of ships employed on the official service of the United Nations,
its specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency, flying
the flag of the organization.
Article 94. Duties of the flag State
1. Every State shall effectively exercise
its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social
matters over ships flying its flag.
2. In particular every State shall:
(a) maintain a register of ships containing
the names and particulars of ships flying its flag, except those which
are excluded from generally accepted international regulations on
account of their small size; and
(b) assume jurisdiction under its internal
law over each ship flying its flag and its master, officers and crew
in respect of adminis trative, technical and social matters concerning
3. Every State shall take such measures
for ships flying its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea
with regard, inter alia, to:
(a) the construction, equipment and
seaworthiness of ships;
(b) the manning of ships, labour conditions
and the training of crews, taking into account the applicable international
(c) the use of signals, the maintenance
of communications and the prevention of collisions.
4. Such measures shall include those
necessary to ensure:
(a) that each ship, before registration
and thereafter at appropriate intervals, is surveyed by a qualified surveyor
of ships, and has on board such charts, nautical publications and navigational
equipment and instruments as are appropriate for the safe navigation of
(b) that each ship is in the charge
of a master and officers who possess appropriate qualifications, in particular
in seamanship, navigation, communications and marine engineering, and that
the crew is appropriate in qualification and numbers for the type, size,
machinery and equipment of the ship;
(c) that the master, officers and, to
the extent appropriate, the crew are fully conversant with and required
to observe the applicable international regulations concerning the safety
of life at sea, the prevention of collisions, the prevention, reduction
and control of marine pollution, and the maintenance of communications
5. In taking the measures called for
in paragraphs 3 and 4 each State is required to conform to generally
accepted international regulations, procedures and practices and to take
any steps which may be necessary to secure their observance.
6. A State which has clear grounds to
believe that proper jurisdiction and control with respect to a ship have
not been exercised may report the facts to the flag State. Upon receiving
such a report, the flag State shall investigate the matter and, if appropriate,
take any action necessary to remedy the situation.
7. Each State shall cause an inquiry
to be held by or before a suitably qualified person or persons into every
marine casualty or incident of navigation on the high seas involving a
ship flying its flag and causing loss of life or serious injury to nationals
of another State or serious damage to ships or installations of another
State or to the marine environment. The flag State and the other State
shall co-operate in the conduct of any inquiry held by that other State
into any such marine casualty or incident of navigation.
Article 95. Immunity of warships on
the high seas
Warships on the high seas have complete
immunity from the jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State.
Article 96. Immunity of ships used only
on government noncommercial service
Ships owned or operated by a State and
used only on government non-commercial service shall, on the high seas,
have complete immunity from the jurisdiction of any State other than the
Article 97. Penal jurisdiction in matters
of collision or any other incident of navigation
1. In the event of a collision or any
other incident of navigation concerning a ship on the high seas, involving
the penal or disciplinary responsibility of the master or of any other
person in the service of the ship, no penal or disciplinary proceedings
may be instituted against such person except before the judicial or administrative
authorities either of the flag State or of the State of which such person
is a national.
2. In disciplinary matters, the State
which has issued a master's certificate or a certificate of competence
or licence shall alone be competent after due legal process, to pronounce
the withdrawal of such certificates, even if the holder is not a national
of the State which issued them.
3. No arrest or detention of the ship,
even as a measure of investiga tion, shall be ordered by any authorities
other than those of the flag State.
Article 98. Duty to render assistance
1. Every State shall require the master
of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger
to the ship, the crew or the passengers;
(a) to render assistance to any person
found at sea in danger of being lost;
(b) to proceed with all possible speed
to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance,
in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him;
(c) after a collision, to render assistance
to the other ship, its crew and its passengers and, where possible, to
inform the other ship of the name of his own ship, its port of registry
and the nearest port at which it will call.
2. Every coastal State shall promote
the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective
search and rescue service regarding safety on and over the sea and, where
circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements co-operate
with neighbouring States for this purpose.
Article 99. Prohibition of the transport
Every State shall take effective measures
to prevent and punish the transport of slaves in ships authorized to fly
its flag and to prevent the unlawful use of its flag for that purpose.
Any slave taking refuge on board any ship, whatever its flag, shall ipso
facto be free.
Article 100. Duty to co-operate in the
repression of piracy
All States shall co-operate to the fullest
possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any
other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.
Article 101. Definition of piracy
Piracy consists of any of the following
(a) any illegal acts of violence or
detention, or any act of depreda tion, committed for private ends by the
crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another
ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons
or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation
in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making
it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally
facilitating an act des cribed in subparagraph (a) or (b).
Article 102. Piracy by a warship, government
ship or government aircraft whose crew has mutinied
The acts of piracy, as defined in article
101, committed by a warship, government ship or government aircraft whose
crew has mutinied and taken control of the ship or aircraft are assimilated
to acts committed by a private ship or aircraft.
Article 103. Definition of a pirate
ship or aircraft
A ship or aircraft is considered a pirate
ship or aircraft if it is intended by the persons in dominant control to
be used for the purpose of committing one of the acts referred to in article
101. The same applies if the ship or aircraft has been used to commit any
such act, so long as it remains under the control of the persons guilty
of that act.
Article 104. Retention or loss of the
nationality of a pirate ship or aircraft
A ship or aircraft may retain its nationality
although it has become a pirate ship or aircraft. The retention or loss
of nationality is determined by the law of the State from which such nationality
Article 105. Seizure of a pirate ship
On the high seas, or in any other place
outside the jurisdiction of any State, every State may seize a pirate ship
or aircraft, or a ship or aircraft taken by piracy and under the control
of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board. The
courts of the State which carried out the seizure may decide upon the penalties
to be imposed, and may also determine the action to be taken with regard
to the ships, aircraft or property, subject to the rights of third parties
acting in good faith.
Article 106. Liability for seizure without
ad equate grounds
Where the seizure of a ship or aircraft
on suspicion of piracy has been effected without adequate grounds,
the State making the seizure shall be liable to the State the nationality
of which is possessed by the ship or aircraft for any loss or damage
caused by the seizure.
Article 107. Ships and aircraft which
are entitled to seize on account of piracy
A seizure on account of piracy may be
carried out only by warships or military aircraft, or other ships
or aircraft clearly marked and identifiable as being on government
service and authorized to that effect.
Article 108. Illicit traffic in narcotic
drugs or psychotropic substances
1. All States shall co-operate in the
suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic
substances engaged in by ships on the high seas contrary to international
2. Any State which has reasonable grounds
for believing that a ship flying its flag is engaged in illicit traffic
in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances may request the co-operation
of other States to suppress such traffic.
Article 109. Unauthorized broadcasting
from the high seas
1. All States shall co-operate in the
suppression of unauthorized broadcasting from the high seas.
2. For the purposes of this Convention,
'unauthorized broadcasting' means the transmission of sound radio or television
broadcasts from a ship or installation on the high seas intended-for reception
by the general public contrary to international regulations, but excluding
the transmission of distress calls.
3. Any person engaged in unauthorized
broadcasting may be prosecuted before the court of:
(a) the flag State of the ship;
(b) the State of registry of the installation;
(c) the State of which the person is
(d ) any State where the transmissions
can be received; or
(e) any State where authorized radio
communication is suffering interference.
4. On the high seas, a State having
jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph 3 may, in conformity with
article 110, arrest any person or ship engaged in unauthorized broadcasting
and seize the broadcasting apparatus.
Article 110. Right of visit
1. Except where acts of interference
derive from powers conferred by treaty, a warship which encounters
on the high seas a foreign ship, other than a ship entitled to complete
immunity in accordance with articles 95 and 96, is not justified
in boarding it unless there is reasonable ground for suspecting that:
(a) the ship is engaged in piracy;
(b) the ship is engaged in the slave
(c) the ship is engaged in unauthorized
broadcasting and the flag
State of the warship has jurisdiction
under article 109;
(d ) the ship is without nationality;
(e) though flying a foreign flag or
refusing to show its flag, the ship is, in reality, of the same nationality
as the warship.
2. In the cases provided for in paragraph
1, the warship may proceed to verify the ship's right to fly its
flag. To this end, it may send a boat under the command of an officer
to the suspected ship. If suspicion remains after the documents have
been checked, it may proceed to a further examination on board the
ship, which must be carried out with all possible consideration.
3. If the suspicions prove to be unfounded,
and provided that the ship boarded has not committed any act justifying
them, it shall be compensated for any loss or damage that may have
4. These provisions apply mutatis mutandis
to military aircraft.
5. These provisions also apply to any
other duly authorized ships or aircraft clearly marked and identifiable
as being on government service.
Article 111. Right of hot pursuit
1. The hot pursuit of a foreign ship
may be undertaken when the competent authorities of the coastal State
have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and
regulations of that State. Such pursuit must be commenced when the
foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters, the
archipelagic waters, the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of
the pursuing State, and may only be continued ouside the territorial
sea or the contiguous zone if the pursuit has not been interrupted.
It is not necessary that, at the time when the foreign ship within
the territorial sea or the contiguous zone receives the order to
stop, the ship giving the order should likewise be within the territorial
sea or the contiguous zone. If the foreign ship is within a contiguous
zone, as defined in article 33, the pursuit may only be undertaken
if there has been a violation of the rights for the protection of
which the zone was established.
2. The right of hot pursuit shall apply
mutatis mutandis to violations in the exclusive economic zone or
on the continental shelf, including safety zones around continental
shelf installations, of the laws and regulations of the coastal State
applicable in accordance with this Convention to the exclusive economic
zone or the continental shelf, including such safety zones.
3. The right of hot pursuit ceases as
soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State
or of a third State.
4. Hot pursuit is not deemed to have
begun unless the pursuing ship has satisfied itself by such practicable
means as may be available that the ship pursued or one of its boats
or other craft working as a team and using the ship pursued as a
mother ship is within the limits of the territorial sea, or, as the
case may be, within the contiguous zone or the exclusive economic
zone or above the continental shelf. The pursuit may only be commenced
after a visual or auditory signal to stop has been given at a distance
which enables it to be seen or heard by the foreign ship.
5. The right of hot pursuit may be exercised
only by warships or military aircraft, or other ships or aircraft
clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service and authorized
to that effect.
6. Where hot pursuit is effected by
(a) the provisions of paragraphs 1 to
4 shall apply mutatis mutandis;
(b) the aircraft giving the order to
stop must itself actively pursue the ship until a ship or another
aircraft of the coastal State, summoned by the aircraft, arrives
to take over the pursuit, unless the aircraft is itself able to arrest
the ship. It does not suffice to justify an arrest outside the territorial
sea that the ship was merely sighted by the aircraft as an offender
or suspected offender, if it was not both ordered to stop and pursued
by the aircraft itself or other aircraft or ships which continue
the pursuit without interruption.
7. The release of a ship arrested within
the jurisdiction of a State and escorted to a port of that State
for the purposes of an inquiry before the competent authorities may
not be claimed solely on the ground that the ship, in the course
of its voyage, was escorted across a portion of the exclusive economic
zone or the high seas, if the circumstances rendered this necessary.
8. Where a ship has been stopped or
arrested outside the territorial sea in circumstances which do not
justify the exercise of the right of hot pursuit, it shall be compensated
for any loss or damage that may have been thereby sustained.
Article 112. Right to lay submarine
cables and pipelines
1. All States are entitled to lay submarine
cables and pipelines on the bed of the high seas beyond the continental
2. Article 79, paragraph 5, applies
to such cables and pipelines.
Article 113. Breaking or injury of a
submarine cable or pipeline
Every State shall adopt the laws and
regulations necessary to provide that the breaking or injury by a
ship flying its flag or by a person subject to its jurisdiction of
a submarine cable beneath the high seas done wilfully or through
culpable negligence, in such a manner as to be liable to interrupt
or obstruct telegraphic or telephonic communications, and similarly
the breaking or in jury of a submarine pipeline or high-voltage power
cable, shall be a punishable offence. This provision shall apply
also to conduct calculated or likely to result in such breaking or
injury. However, it shall not apply to any break or injury caused
by persons who acted merely with the legitimate object of saving
their lives or their ships, after having taken all necessary precautions
to avoid such break or in jury.
Article 114. Breaking or injury by owners
of a submarine cable or pipeline of another submarine cable or pipeline
Every State shall adopt the laws and
regulations necessary to provide that, if persons subject to its
jurisdiction who are owners of a submarine cable or pipeline beneath
the high seas, in laying or repairing that cable or pipeline, cause
a break m or injury to another cable or pipeline, they shall bear
the cost of the repairs.
Article 115. Indemnity for loss incurred
in avoiding injury to a submarine cable or pipeline
Every State shall adopt the laws and
regulations necessary to ensure that the owners of ships who can
prove that they have sacrificed an anchor, a net or any other fishing
gear, in order to avoid injuring a submarine cable or pipeline, shall
be indemnified by the owner of the cable or pipeline, provided that
the owner of the ship has taken all reasonable precautionary measures
SECTION 2. CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT
OF THE LIVING RESOURCES OF THE HIGH SEAS
Article 116. Right to fish on the high
All States have the right for their
nationals to engage in fishing on the high seas subject to:
(a) their treaty obligations;
(b) the rights and duties as well as
the interests of coastal States provided for, inter alia, in article
63, paragraph 2, and articles 64 to 67; and
(c) the provisions of this section.
Article 117. Duty of States to adopt
with respect to their nationals measures for the conservation of
the living resources of the high seas
All States have the duty to take, or
to co-operate with other States in taking, such measures for their
respective nationals as may be necessary for the conservation of
the living resources of the high seas.
Article 118. Co-operation of States
in the conservation and management of living resources
States shall co-operate with each other
in the conservation and management of living resources in the areas
of the high seas. States whose nationals exploit identical living
resources, or different living resources m the same area, shall enter
into negotiations with a view to taking the measures necessary for
the conservation of the living resources concerned. They shall, as
appropriate, co-operate to establish subregional or regional fisheries
organizations to this end.
Article 119. Conservation of the living
resources of the high seas
1. In determining the allowable catch
and establishing other conser vation measures for the living resources
in the high seas, States shall:
(a) take measures which are designed,
on the best scientific evidence available to the States concerned,
to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels
which can produce the maximum sustainable yield, as qualified by
relevant environmental and economic factors, including the special
requirements of developing States, and taking into account fishing
patterns, the interdependence of stocks and any generally recommended
international minimum standards, whether subregional, regional or
(b) take into consideration the effects
on species associated with or dependent upon harvested species with
a view to maintaining or restoring populations of such associated
or dependent species above levels at which their reproduction may
become seriously threatened.
2. Available scientific information,
catch and fishing effort statis tics, and other data relevant to
the conservation of fish stocks shall be contributed and exchanged
on a regular basis through competent international organizations,
whether subregional, regional or global, where appropriate and with
participation by all States concerned.
3. States concerned shall ensure that
conservation measures and their implementation do not discriminate
in form or in fact against the fishermen of any State.
Article 120. Marine mammals
Article 65 also applies to the conservation
and management of marine mammals in the high seas.
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