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Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators (ENTRI) -- Full Text


Summary of the "Convention on the Continental Shelf" is available from the UNEP Register of International Treaties and Other Agreements in the Field of the Environment.

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U.N.T.S. No. 7302, vol. 499, pp. 312-321. 


                 CONVENTION ON THE CONTINENTAL SHELF.
                   DONE AT GENEVA, ON 29 APRIL 1958

ENTRY INTO FORCE: 10 June 1964


The States Parties to this Convention

Have agreed as follows:

                              Article 1

For the purpose of these articles, the term "continental shelf" is used as
referring (a) to the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to
the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200
metres or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters
admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said areas; (b)
to the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coasts
of islands.

                              Article 2

1. The coastal State exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights
for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.

2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this article are exclusive in
the sense that if the coastal State does not explore the continental shelf
or exploit its natural resources, no one may undertake these activities, or
make a claim to the continental shelf, without the express consent of the
coastal State.

3. The rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not depend
on occupation, effective or notional, or on any express proclamation.

4. The natural resources referred to in these articles consist of the
mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil together
with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say,
organisms which, at the harvestable stage, either are immobile on or under
the seabed or are unable to move except in constant physical contact with
the seabed or the subsoil.

                              Article 3

The rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not affect
the legal status of the superjacent waters as high seas, or that of the
airspace above those waters.

                              Article 4

Subject to its right to take reasonable measures for the exploration of the
continental shelf and the exploitation of its natural resources, the
coastal State may not impede the laying or maintenance of submarine cables
or pipe lines on the continental shelf.

                              Article 5

1. The exploration of the continental shelf and the exploitation of its
natural resources must not result in any unjustifiable interference with
navigation, fishing or the conservation of the living resources of the sea,
nor result in any interference with fundamental oceanographic or other
scientific research carried out with the intention of open publication.

2. Subject to the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 6 of this article, the
coastal State is entitled to construct and maintain or operate on the
continental shelf installations and other devices necessary for its
exploration and the exploitation of its natural resources, and to establish
safety zones around such installations and devices and to take in those
zones measures necessary for their protection.

3. The safety zones referred to in paragraph 2 of this article may extend
to a distance of 500 metres around the installations and other devices
which have been erected, measured from each point of their outer edge.
Ships of all nationalities must respect these safety zones.

4. Such installations and devices, though under the jurisdiction of the
coastal State, do not possess the status of islands. They have no
territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the
delimitation of the territorial sea of the coastal State.

5. Due notice must be given of the construction of any such installations,
and permanent means for giving warning of their presence must be
maintained. Any installations which are abandoned or disused must be
entirely removed.

6. Neither the installations or devices, nor the safety zones around them,
may be established where interference may be caused to the use of
recognized sea lanes essential to international navigation.

7. The coastal State is obliged to undertake, in the safety zones, all
appropriate measures for the protection of the living resources of the sea
from harmful agents.

8. The consent of the coastal State shall be obtained in respect of any
research concerning the continental shelf and undertaken there.
Nevertheless the coastal State shall not normally withhold its consent if
the request is submitted by a qualified institution with a view to purely
scientific research into the physical or biological characteristics of the
continental shelf, subject to the proviso that the coastal State shall have
the right, if it so desires, to participate or to be represented in the
research, and that in any event the results shall be published.

                              Article 6

1. Where the same continental shelf is adjacent to the territories of two
or more States whose coasts are opposite each other, the boundary of the
continental shelf appertaining to such States shall be determined by
agreement between them. In the absence of agreement, and unless another
boundary line is justified by special circumstances, the boundary is the
median line, every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points of
the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of each State
is measured.

2. Where the same continental shelf is adjacent to the territories of two
adjacent States, the boundary of the continental shelf shall be determined
by agreement between them. In the absence of agreement, and unless another
boundary line is justified by special circumstances, the boundary shall be
determined by application of the principle of equidistance from the nearest
points of the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of
each State is measured.

3. In delimiting the boundaries of the continental shelf, any lines which
are drawn in accordance with the principles set out in paragraphs 1 and 2
of this article should be defined with reference to charts and geographical
features as they exist at a particular date, and reference should be made
to fixed permanent identifiable points on the land.

                              Article 7

The provisions of these articles shall not prejudice the right of the
coastal State to exploit the subsoil by means of tunnelling irrespective of
the depth of water above the subsoil.

                              Article 8

This Convention shall, until 31 October 1958, be open for signature by all
States Members of the United Nations or of any of the specialized agencies,
and by any other State invited by the General Assembly of the United
Nations to become a Party to the Convention.

                              Article 9

This Convention is subject to ratification. The instruments of ratification
shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

                              Article 10

This Convention shall be open for accession by any States belonging to any
of the categories mentioned in article 8. The instruments of accession
shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

                              Article 11

1. This Convention shall come into force on the thirtieth day following the
date of deposit of the twenty-second instrument of ratification or
accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2. For each State ratifying or acceding to the Convention after the deposit
of the twenty-second instrument of ratification or accession, the
Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after deposit by
such State of its instrument of ratification or accession.

                              Article 12

1. At the time of signature, ratification or accession, any State may make
reservations to articles of the Convention other than to articles 1 to 3
inclusive.

2. Any Contracting State making a reservation in accordance with the
preceding paragraph may at any time withdraw the reservation by a
communication to that effect addressed to the Secretary-General of the
United Nations.

                              Article 13

1. After the expiration of a period of five years from the date on which
this Convention shall enter into force, a request for the revision of this
Convention may be made at any time by any Contracting Party by means of a
notification in writing addressed to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations.

2. The General Assembly of the United Nations shall decide upon the steps,
if any, to be taken in respect of such request.

                              Article 14

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States Members
of the United Nations and the other States referred to in article 8:

 (a) Of signatures to this Convention and of the deposit of instruments of
     ratification or accession, in accordance with articles 8, 9 and 10;
 (b) Of the date on which this Convention will come into force, in
     accordance with article 11;
 (c) Of requests for revision in accordance with article 13;
 (d) Of reservations to this Convention, in accordance with article 12.

                              Article 15

The original of this Convention, of which the Chinese, English, French,
Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited with
the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall send certified
copies thereof to all States referred to in article 8.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized
thereto by their respective Governments, have signed this Convention.

DONE at Geneva, this twenty-ninth day of April one thousand nine hundred
and fifty-eight.