UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Chair: Olivia Venus

About this committee:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and territorial conflicts between Russia and the United States may seem isolated, but are intricately connected under one doctrine: UNCLOS. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was convened in 1982 to replace four 1958 Geneva Conventions governing the high seas. Addressing issues spanning from sea territory to deepwater drilling, UNCLOS has protected and delegated marine resources since it went into effect in 1994. However, amendments to the doctrine have been sparse, resulting in a failure to adapt to modern territorial and environmental issues relevant to modern law. A reconvening of UNCLOS, with ability to make amendments, could kickstart solutions to the urgent issues of Arctic Ocean territorial and Exclusive Economic Zones, as well as plastic pollution and environmental protection law. Diving into both scientific and legal details, this committee sets the challenge of amending an outdated doctrine and solving the ocean’s most pressing catastrophes.

background guide coming in November!

Topic A: “close the plastic tap”

TOPIC B:  Arctic Exclusive Economic Zones



Welcome Delegates!

My name is Olivia Venus and I’m honored to serve as director for this year’s United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This is my seventh (and final) MUNUM and I’m certain it will be the best! I’m a senior double majoring in political science and the Program in the Environment (PiTE) and pursuing my thesis on marine microplastic management policy in the United States and United Kingdom. Along with my courses, I serve as president of the University of Michigan’s oldest all-female community, the Martha Cook Building. Additionally, I keep bees with the Campus Farm, work part time as a barista, and love all things outdoors.

Prior to the convening of UNCLOS in 1982, the high seas were governed by a combination of three Geneva Conventions, each addressing separate sectors of marine law. With its overall ratification in 1994, UNCLOS presented a global perspective on issues including travel, national domain, and mining. Despite lack of ratification by key powers, including the United States, it has set the baseline for sea management for over 20 years. However, with the emergence of sea ice melting and thousands of tons of plastic floating in our waterways, UNCLOS’ provisions lack modern competency.

Blending legal and scientific approaches, UNCLOS is a unique general assembly with power to amend and create commissions. It’s your job, as delegates of MUNUM XXXIII, to put forth your best solutions in accordance with this law. Familiarity with the UNCLOS doctrine is essential for a productive committee, and I’m excited to see the amendments and resolutions you create! If you have any questions regarding the background guide, committee structure, or otherwise want to introduce yourself, please contact me at olvenus@umich.edu

Go Blue!