International Law Studies


One of the foremost contributions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is its Article 76 pertaining to the continental shelf. Article 76 defines the continental shelf and sets forth detailed rules for determining its outer limits. It also introduces the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, one of the three institutions created by the Convention. This article addresses the universality of Article 76, in particular the degree to which its provisions are legally applicable to all States, including non-parties to the Convention. In doing so, the article considers the recent jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice pertaining to the continental shelf. The article provides context and background on Article 76, including a discussion of the historical development of the continental shelf regime, and considers whether Article 76 is part of customary international law and thus applicable to all States.