San Diego International Law Journal

Library of Congress Authority File


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The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) is a successful attempt by the international community to codify and unify the law of the sea. After long negotiations, the LOSC opened for signature at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) in 1982. Together with its two formal associations, the Part XI Implementation Agreement 1994 and the Straddling and Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement 1995, it is regarded as one of the most comprehensive documents ever adopted by the international community. The LOSC not only succeeded in addressing all topics covered by its ancestors, the four 1958 Geneva Conventions, but it actually succeeded in addressing much more. More importantly, at least to this author's perception, it created a new approach in developing customary international law by adopting a "package deal theory." This Article submits that by combining this innovative approach with three other methods specified by the International Court of Justice (ICJ)- that is, to codify or modify preexisting customary international norms, to crystallize emerging customary international norms, and to initiate a progressive process of developing customary international norms-the LOSC represents customary international law to a very wide extent. As a result, at least in the context of the law of the sea, the distinction between treaty law and customary law is blurred.