International Marine Law
The "open seas" are in fact governed by a variety of international organizations with varying degrees of juristication, executive power, and focus.
- International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- The IMO is primarily concerned with regulating international shipping. Founded in 1959, they set safety rules and standards, record casualties at sea, help oversee ports, provide technical assistance and expertise to developing ports, and deal with legal issues concerning liability at sea, among other tasks. Environmentally, they are primarily concerned with shipping pollution, which they investigate and regulate. They have a convention dealing with oil pollution readiness.
- UN: Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea
- A UN division that mostly specifies which conflicts will be settled by which international organizations.
- International Tribunal for Law at Sea
- The maritime equivilent of the International Court, only with much more recognition and power (eg, nations accept it's decisions). Settles large disputes between individuals, companies, nations, organizations, etc. Again, mostly to do with shipping.
- United Nations Environmental Law Programme
- Large UN program whose mission is: "To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations."
Essentially an umbrella organization whose members research and advise on international environmental issues.
One organization under UNEP is the global programme for action (GPA), which concerns preserving the oceans as a resource and stopping large scale pollution.
- International Whaling Comission
- The IWC was formed under a treaty in 1946; membership is voluntary. It regulates the practice of whaling, including whale size and species, annual take, practices, and locations. It includes a scientific commitee made up of leading world whale biologists.