Convention on the High Seas

Convention on the High Seas


Article 1

The term “High Seas “means all parts of the sea that are not included in
the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State.

Article 2

The high seas being open to all nations, no State may validly purport to
subject any part of them to its sovereignty. Freedom of the high seas is
exercised under the conditions laid down by these articles and by the other
rules of international law. It comprises, inter alia, both for coastal and
non-coastal States:

(1) Freedom of navigation;
(2) Freedom of fishing;
(3) Freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines;
(4) Freedom to fly over the high seas.

These freedoms, and others which are recognized by the general principles
of international law, shall be exercised by all States with reasonable
regard to the interests of other States in their exercise of the freedom of
the high seas.

Article 3

1. In order to enjoy the freedom of the seas on equal terms with coastal
States, States having no sea-coast should have free access to the sea. To
this end States situated between the sea and a State having no sea-coast
shall by common agreement with the latter, and in conformity with existing
international conventions, accord:

(a) To the State having no sea-coast, on a basis of reciprocity, free
transit through their territory; and
(b) To ships flying the flag of that State treatment equal to that
accorded to their own ships, or to the ships of any other States, as
regards access to seaports and the use of such ports.

2. States situated between the sea and a State having no sea-coast shall
settle, by mutual agreement with the latter, and taking into account the
rights of the coastal State or State of transit and the special conditions
of the State having no sea-coast, all matters relating to freedom of
transit and equal treatment in ports, in case such States are not already
parties to existing international conventions.

Article 4

Every State, whether coastal or not, has the right to sail ships under its
flag on the high seas.

Article 5

1. Each State shall fix the conditions for the grant of its nationality to
ships, for the registration of ships in its territory, and for the right to
fly its flag. Ships have the nationality of the State whose flag they are
entitled to fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the
ship; in particular, the State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction
and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships
flying its flag.

2. Each State shall issue to ships to which it has granted the right to fly
its flag documents to that effect.

Article 6

1. Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in
exceptional cases expressly provided for in international Treaties or in
these articles, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high
seas. A ship may not change its flag during a voyage or while in a port of
call, save in the case of a real transfer of ownership or change of

2. A ship which sails under the flags of two or more States, using them
according to convenience, may not claim any of the nationalities in
question with respect to any other State, and may be assimilated to a ship
without nationality.

Article 7

The provisions of the preceding articles do not prejudice the question of
ships employed on the official service of an inter-governmental
organization flying the flag of the organization.

Article 8

1. Warships on the high seas have complete immunity from the jurisdiction
of any State other than the flag State.

2. For the purposes of these articles, the term “warship”means a ship
belonging to the naval forces of a State and bearing the external marks
distinguishing warships of its nationality, under the command of an officer
duly commissioned by the government and whose name appears in the Navy
List, and manned by a crew who are under regular naval discipline.

Article 9

Ships owned or operated by a State and used only on government
noncommercial service shall, on the high seas, have complete immunity from
the jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State.

Article 10

1. Every State shall take such measures for ships under its flag as are
necessary to ensure safety at sea with regard inter alia to:

(a) The use of signals, the maintenance of communications and the
prevention of collisions;
(b) The manning of ships and labour conditions for crews taking into
account the applicable international labour instruments;
(c) The construction, equipment and seaworthiness of ships.

2. In taking such measures each State is required to conform to generally
accepted international standards and to take any steps which may be
necessary to ensure their observance.

Article 11

1. In the event of a collision or of any other incident of navigation
concerning a ship on the high seas, involving the penal or disciplinary
responsibility of the master or of any other person in the service of the
ship, no penal or disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against such
persons except before the judicial or administrative authorities either of
the flag State or of the State of which such person is a national.

2. In disciplinary matters, the State which has issued a master’s
certificate or a certificate of competence or licence shall alone be
competent, after due legal process, to pronounce the withdrawal of such
certificates, even if the holder is not a national of the State which
issued them.

3. No arrest or detention of the ship, even as a measure of investigation,
shall be ordered by any authorities other than those of the flag State.




See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

Convention on the High Seas 2, Convention on the High Seas 3, Conventions: Chronological Index 1951-1970, High Seas, Marine and Coastal conventions, Piracy, Treaties.



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