Convention on the High Seas

The Convention on the High Seas is an international treaty which codifies the rules of international law relating to the high seas, otherwise known as international waters.[1] The convention was one of four treaties created at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I).[2] The four treaties were signed on 29 April 1958 and entered into force on 30 September 1962, although in keeping with legal tradition, later accession was permitted.[3]

Convention on the High Seas
UNCLOS logo.png
Signed29 April 1958
LocationGeneva, Switzerland
Effective30 September 1962
Parties63 states (at 2013)
LanguagesChinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish
Convention on the High Seas at Wikisource

As of 2013, the treaty had been ratified by 63 states, including most NATO-bloc and Soviet-bloc nations but with the notable exceptions of most of the OPEC and Arab league nations like Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, as well as China, North Korea, and South Korea.[4]

The convention on the High Seas was superseded by the 1982 UNCLOS III, which introduced several new concepts to the law of maritime boundaries including Exclusive Economic Zones.


High seas highlighted in dark blue.

The treaty is divided into 37 articles:

Article 1: Definition of "high seas".

Article 2: Statement of principles

Article 3: Access to the sea for landlocked states

Articles 4–7: the concept of a Flag State

Article 8: Warships

Article 9: Other ships in government service

Articles 10–12: Safety, rescue

Article 13: Outlawing transport of slaves at sea

Articles 14–21: Piracy

Article 22: Boarding of merchant ships by warships

Article 23: Hot pursuit, that is, pursuit of a vessel across borders for the purposes of law enforcement

Articles 24–25: Pollution

Articles 26–29: Submarine cables and pipelines

Articles 30–37: legal framework, ratification, accession