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II.1.100 CONVENTION ON THE HIGH SEAS, 1958

The Ratification of Maritime Conventions

Chapter I.1.100

CONVENTION ON THE HIGH SEAS, 1958

ADOPTED: Done at Geneva on 29 April 1958
REFERENCE: 450 UNTS 11
UN TREATY NUMBER: I. 6465
ENTERED INTO FORCE: 30 September 1962
DEPOSITARY: Secretary General, United Nations
SECRETARY: Secretary General, United Nations

IMPLEMENTATION

SIGNATURE, RATIFICATION AND ACCESSION

Article XXXI

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 XXXII

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

Article XXXIII

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

ENTRY INTO FORCE

Article XXXIV

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.

AMENDMENTS

Article XXXV

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.

DECLARATIONS AND RESERVATIONS

(Unless otherwise indicated, the declarations and reservations were made upon ratification, accession or succession.)

Albania

Article IX. “The Government of the People’s Republic of Albania considers that, in virtue of well-known principles of international law, all Government ships owned or operated by a State, without exception, irrespective of the purpose for which they are used, are subject to the jurisdiction only of the State under whose flag they sail.”

Declaration

“The Government of the People’s Republic of Albania declares that the definition of piracy as given in the Convention is not consistent with present international law and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on the high seas.”

Australia

Objections to the reservations hereunder

  • (a) The reservation made in articles II, III and IV by Iran on signature.
  • (b) The reservation made to paragraph 3 of article II and to paragraphs 1 and 2 of article XXVI by Iran on signature.
  • (c) The reservation made to article IX by Bulgaria on signature and ratification.
  • (d) The reservation made to article IX by the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics on signature and confirmed on ratification.
  • (e) The reservation made by Indonesia on ratification.

In relation to the reservation made by Indonesia . . . the Australian Government has previously informed the Indonesian Government that it does not recognize the validity in international law of the Regulation referred to in the reservation and that it does not consider itself bound by it.”

1 February 1965

“Objection of the Government of Australia to the reservation contained in the instrument of accession by Albania to the Convention on the High Seas done at Geneva on 29 April 1958.”

31 January 1968

“The Government of Australia places on record the formal objection to the reservation made by the Government of Mexico.”

29 September 1976

“Objection of the Australian Government to the reservation by the German Democratic Republic concerning article IX of the Convention on the High Seas, 1858, and contained in the instrument of accession of the German Democratic Republic to the Convention.”

Bulgaria

Reservation made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification

Article IX. The Government of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria considers the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies without restriction to all government ships.

Declaration made upon signature

The Government of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria considers that the definition of piracy given in the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on international sea routes.

Declaration made upon ratification

The Government of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria considers that the definition of piracy given in the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on international sea routes.

Byelorussian SSR

Article IX. The Government of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic considers that the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies without restriction to all government ships.

Declaration

The Government of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic considers that the definition of piracy given in the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on international sea routes.

Czechoslovakia

Article IX. The Government of the Czechoslovak Republic holds that under international law in force government ships operated for commercial purposes also enjoy on the high seas complete immunity from the jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State.

Declaration

The Government of the Czechoslovak Republic maintains that the notion of piracy as defined in the Convention is neither in accordance with present international law nor with the interest of safeguarding the freedom of navigation on the high seas.

Denmark

“The Government of Denmark declares that it does not find acceptable:

  • The reservations made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics to article IX;
  • The reservation made by the Government of Iran to article XXVI, paragraphs 1 and 2;
  • The reservation made by the Government of Indonesia regarding the interpretation of the terms ‘territorial sea’ and ‘internal waters’;
  • The above-mentioned objections shall not affect the coming into force of the Convention, according to article XXXIV, as between Denmark and the Contracting Parties concerned.”

31 October 1974

“The Government of Denmark does not find acceptable the reservation made by the German Democratic Republic on December 27, 1973 to article XX of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone.

The Government of Denmark also finds unacceptable the reservation made by the German Democratic Republic on the same date to article IX of the Convention on the High Seas.

The above-mentioned objections shall not affect the coming into force of the Conventions between Denmark and the German Democratic Republic.”

Fiji

“The Government of Fiji declares that it withdraws the observations made by the United Kingdom with respect to the reservation made on ratification of the Convention by the Government of Indonesia and substitutes therefor the following observation:

  • ‘With respect to the reservation made by the Government of Indonesia on ratification of the above-mentioned Convention on the High Seas, the Government of Fiji states that it considers that the extent of Indonesian national waters referred to therein is subject to the rule of international law that, where the establishment of a straight baseline has the effect of enclosing as internal waters areas which previously had been considered as part of the high seas, a right of innocent passage shall exist in those waters, subject to the regulations of the national authorities respecting police, customs, quarantine and control of pollution and without prejudice to the exclusive right of such authorities in respect of the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of such waters and of the subjacent seabed and subsoil.
  • Furthermore, the Government of Fiji maintains all other objections communicated to the Secretary-General by the United Kingdom Government to the reservations or declarations made by certain States with respect to this Convention, reserving only its position on that Government’s observations bearing on the application of the Optional Protocol of the Signature pending final disposition of the question of the succession by the Government of Fiji to the said Protocol.’ ”

German Democratic Republic

Reservation concerning article IX;

The German Democratic Republic considers that the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies without restriction to all government ships.

Declarations concerning articles XV, XXXI and XXXIII;

The German Democratic Republic considers that the definition of piracy given in article XV of the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law in force should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to safeguard the freedom of navigation on the high seas.

The German Democratic Republic considers that articles XXXI and XXXIII of the Convention are inconsistent with the principle that all States pursuing their policies in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations shall have the right to become parties to conventions affecting the interests of all States.

Germany, Federal Republic of

“The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany considers the following reservations to be inconsistent with the aims and purposes of the Convention of 29 April 1958 on the High Seas and therefore to be unacceptable:

  • (1) The reservations made to the Convention by the Government of Indonesia;
  • (2) The reservation declared at the signature of the Convention by the Government of Iran to articles II, III and IV and to article II, item 3, in conjunction with article XXVI, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Convention, the latter in so far as that reservation is to open up the possibility of refusing permission to lay submarine cables and pipelines even where certain conditions have been fulfilled;
  • (3) The reservations and declarations to be qualified in substance as reservations made to article IX of the Convention by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Union Soviet Socialist Republics, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary;
  • (4) The declarations made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Union Soviet Socialist Republics, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary to the definition of piracy as given in the Convention in so far as the said declarations are to be qualified as reservations.

“The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany furthermore considers the reservation made on 27 December 1973 by the German Democratic Republic to article IX of the Convention to be inconsistent with the aims and purposes of the Convention and therefore to be unacceptable.

“This also applies to the declaration made by the Government of the German Democratic Republic on the same date to the definition of piracy as given in the Convention in so far as that declaration is to be qualified as a reservation.

The present declaration does not affect the applicability, in all other respects, of the Convention under international law as between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Parties to the Convention having made the reservations and declarations referred to above.”

2 March 1977

“The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany considers the reservation made by the Government of the Mongolian People’s Republic to article IX of the Convention of 29 April 1958 on the High Seas as well as the declaration made by the Government of the Mongolian People’s Republic to article XV of that Convention, in so far as the latter is in substance to be qualified as a reservation, to be inconsistent with the aims and purposes of the Convention and therefore unacceptable.

The present declaration does not affect the applicability, in all other respects, of the Convention under international law as between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Mongolian People’s Republic.”

Hungary

Article IX. “The Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic is of the opinion that, according to the general rules of international law, ships owned or operated by a State and used on government service whether commercial or non-commercial, enjoy on the high seas the same immunity as warships.”

Declaration

“The Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic declares that the definition of piracy as given in the Convention is not consistent with present international law and does not serve the general interests of the freedom of navigation on the high seas.”

Indonesia

Reservations

“The terms ‘territorial sea’ and ‘internal waters’ mentioned in the Convention, as far as the Republic of Indonesia is concerned, are interpreted in accordance with Article I of the Government Regulation in Lieu of an Act No. 4 of the Year 1960 (State Gazette 1960, No. 22) concerning Indonesia Waters, which, in accordance with Article I of the Act No. I of the Year 1961 (State Gazette 1961, No. 3) concerning the Enactment of All Emergency Acts and All Government Regulations in Lieu of an Act which were promulgated before 1 January, 1961, has become Act, which Article word by word is as follows:

  • (1) Article 1: The Indonesian Waters consist of the territorial sea and the internal waters of Indonesia.
  • (2) The Indonesian territorial sea is a maritime belt of a width of twelve nautical miles, the outer limit of which is measured perpendicular to the baselines or points on the baselines which consist of straight lines connecting the outermost point on the low water mark of the outermost islands or part of such islands comprising Indonesian territory with the provision that in case of straits of a width of not more than twenty-four nautical miles and Indonesia is not the only coastal State the outer limit of the Indonesian territorial sea shall be drawn at the middle of the strait.
  • (3) The Indonesian internal waters are all waters lying within the baselines mentioned in paragraph 2.
  • (4) One nautical mile is sixty to one degree of latitude.”

Iran, Islamic Republic of

Upon signature

Reservations

Article II. With respect to the words “no State may validly purport to subject any part of them to its sovereignty”, it shall be understood that this prohibition does not apply to the continental shelf, which is governed by article II of the Convention on the Continental Shelf.

Articles II, III and IV. The Iranian Government maintains the objection on the ground of excess of competence, expressed by its delegation at the twelfth plenary meeting of the Conference on the Law of the Sea on 24 April 1958, to the articles recommended by the Fifth Committee of the Conference and incorporated in the afore-mentioned articles of the Convention on the High Seas. The Iranian Government accordingly reserves all rights regarding the contents of these articles in so far as they relate to countries having no sea coast.

Articles II(3)—article XXVI, paragraphs 1 and 2. Application of the provisions of these articles relating to the laying of submarine cables and pipelines shall be subject to the authorization of the coastal State, in so far as the continental shelf is concerned.

Israel

“Objection to all reservations and declarations made in connection with the signing or ratification of or accession to the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone and the Convention on the High Seas which are incompatible with the purposes and objects of these Conventions. This objection applies in particular to the declaration or reservation made by Tunisia to article XVI, paragraph 4, of the first of the abovementioned Conventions on the occasion of signature.”

Japan

“1…The Government of Japan wishes to state that it does not consider acceptable any unilateral statement in whatever form, made by a State upon signing, ratifying or acceding to the Convention on the High Seas, which is intended to exclude or modify for such State legal effects of the provisions of the Convention.

2. In particular, the Government of Japan finds unacceptable the following reservations:

  • (a) The reservations made by the Governments of Bulgaria, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics to article IX.
  • (b) The reservations made by the Government of Iran to article II and article XXVI, paragraphs 1and 2.

The reservations made by the Government of Indonesia [reproduced under Indonesia].

The reservation made by the Government of Albania to article IX in its instrument of accession.

The reservation made by the Government of Mexico to article IX in its instrument of accession.”

Madagascar

The Malagasy Republic formally expresses its objection to all reservations and statements made in connection with signature or ratification of the Convention on the High Seas or in connection with accession to the said Convention which are inconsistent with the aims and purposes of this Convention.

This objection applies in particular to the statement or reservations made with regard to the Convention on the High Seas by Bulgaria, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Indonesia, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics.

Mexico

Article IX. The Government of Mexico enters an express reservation with regard to article IX, since it considers that government ships, irrespective of the use to which they are put, enjoy immunity; it therefore does not accept the limitation imposed in the article in question, which provides that only ships owned or operated by a State and used only on government non-commercial service shall have immunity from the jurisdiction of other States on the high seas.

Mongolia

(a) Subject to the following reservation in respect of article IX

The Government of the Mongolian People’s Republic considers that the principle of international law under which ships on the high seas are subject only to the jurisdiction of the flag States applies without any restriction whatever to all government ships and

(b) Subject to the following declaration in respect of article XV

The Government of the Mongolian People’s Republic considers that the definition of piracy given in article XV of the Convention does not cover acts which under contemporary international law should be regarded as acts of piracy and thus does not adequately reflect the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to fully ensure freedom of navigation on international waterways.

Netherlands

“The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands declare that they do not find acceptable

the reservations to article IX made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics;

the declarations made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics on the definition of piracy given in the Convention, as far as these declarations amount to a reservation;

the reservations made by the Iranian Government to articles II, III and IV, and

to articles II, paragraph 3, and XXVI, paragraphs 1 and 2;

the declaration made by the Government of Iran on article II as far as it amounts to a reservation of the said article;

the reservation made by the Government of Indonesia.”

17 March 1967

“The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands do not find acceptable the reservation made by the Government of Mexico.”

Poland

Article IX. “The Government of the Polish People’s Republic considers that the rule expressed in article IX applies to all ships owned or operated by a State.”

Declaration

“The Government of the Polish People’s Republic considers that the definition of piracy as contained in the Convention does not fully correspond with the present state on international law in this respect.”

Portugal

27 December 1966

“The Government of Portugal cannot accept the reservation proposed by the Mexican Government requiring exemption of government ships from the disposition laid down in the Convention, irrespectively of the use to which these ships are put.”

Romania

Article IX. The Government of the Romanian People’s Republic considers that the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies to all government ships regardless of the purpose for which they are used.

Declaration

The Government of the Romanian People’s Republic considers that the definition of piracy as given in article XV of the Convention of the High Seas does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy.

Spain

Spain’s accession is not to be interpreted as recognition of any rights or situations in connection with the waters of Gibraltar other than those referred to in article X of the Treaty of Utrecht, of 13 July 1713, between the Crowns of Spain and Great Britain.

Thailand

Objection to following reservations and declarations

“Reservations to article IX made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR;

Declarations to article XV made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR;

Reservation made by the Government of Indonesia.”

Tonga

“The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga withdraws the observations made by the United Kingdom with respect to the reservation made on ratification of the Convention by the Government of Indonesia and substitutes therefor the following observation:

  • With respect to the reservation made by the Government of Indonesia on ratification of the above-mentioned Convention on the High Seas, the Government of Tonga states that it considers that the extent of Indonesian national waters referred to therein is subject to the rule of international law that, where the establishment of a straight baseline has the effect of enclosing as internal waters areas which previously had been considered as part of the high seas, a right of innocent passage shall exist in those waters, subject to the regulations of the national authorities respecting police, customs, quarantine and control of pollution and without prejudice to the exclusive right of such authorities in respect of the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of such waters and of the subjacent seabed and subsoil.”

Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic

Article IX. The Government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic considers that the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies to all government ships.

Declaration

The Government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic considers that the definition of piracy given in the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on international sea routes.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Article IX. The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics considers that the principle of international law according to which a ship on the high seas is not subject to any jurisdiction except that of the flag State applies to all government ships.

Declaration

The Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics considers that the definition of piracy given in the Convention does not cover certain acts which under contemporary international law should be considered as acts of piracy and does not serve to ensure freedom of navigation on international sea routes.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Reservation

“In depositing their instrument of ratification . . . Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland declare that, save as may be stated in any further and separate notices that may hereafter be given, the ratification of this Convention on behalf of the United Kingdom does not extend to the States in the Persian Gulf enjoying British Protection. Multilateral Conventions to which the United Kingdom becomes a party are not extended to these States until such time as an extension is requested by the Ruler of the State concerned.”

Objections

6 November 1959

“Her Majesty’s Government desire to place on record their formal objections to the following reservations and declarations:

The reservations to article IX made by the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria, the Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR.

The reservations to articles II, III and IV, and article II(3) made by the Iranian Government.”

5 April 1962

“Objection to the reservation made on ratification by the Government of Indonesia.

Her majesty’s Government have already stated to the Indonesian Government that they cannot regard as valid under international law the provisions of ‘Government Regulation No. 4, 1960, in lieu of an Act concerning Indonesian Waters’ to the extent that these provisions embody a claim to territorial waters extending to XII miles or purport to demarcate territorial waters by the drawing of straight base lines between the outermost islands, or points, of a group of islands or purport to treat as internal waters all waters enclosed by those lines.”

17 June 1965

“Objection to the reservation to article IX contained in the Albanian instrument of accession to the Convention.”

2 November 1966

“Objection to the reservation to article IX contained in the Mexican instrument of accession.”

13 May 1975

“Her Majesty’s Government desire to place on record their formal objection to the reservations by the German Democratic Republic concerning article IX of the Convention on the High Seas.”

(In this connection, the Government of the United Kingdom indicated that they had not received the circular letter reproducing the text of the reservations made by the Government of the German Democratic Republic until early in August 1974.)

10 January 1977

“The views of the United Kingdom Government regarding reservations and declarations made in connection with this Convention were set out in the letter of the 5th November 1959 from the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The United Kingdom Government now desire to place on record their formal objection to the reservation by the Government of Mongolia concerning article IX of this Convention.”

United States of America

19 September 1962

“The United States does not find the following reservations acceptable:

  • 1. The reservations to article IX made by the Governments of Bulgaria, the Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Ukrainian SSR and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  • 2. The reservations made by the Iranian Government to articles II,III and IV and article XXVI, paragraphs 1 and 2.
  • 3. The reservations made by the Government of Indonesia.”

19 August 1965

“The reservation to article IX made by the Government of Albania in its instrument of accession.”

28 September 1966

“The reservation made by the Government of Mexico in its instrument of accession.”

11 July 1974

“The Government of the United States does not find acceptable the reservations made by the German Democratic Republic to article XX of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone and to article IX of the Convention on the High Seas. The Government of the United States, however, considers those Conventions as continuing in force between it and the German Democratic Republic except that provisions to which the abovementioned reservations are addressed shall apply only to the extent that they are not affected by those reservations.”

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