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This chapter outlines the scope of the book and provides the context for the following chapters. It summarises the early development of the law of the sea, before turning to the sources of the modern law of the sea, notably international conventions, customary international law, general principles of international law, judicial decisions and the writings of publicists. Having tracked the codification of the law of the sea prior to the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the chapter explains the process by which UNCLOS was negotiated, adopted and entered into force, as well as the status of reservations and declarations made by certain States. The relationship of UNCLOS to other treaties and customary international law is then addressed, followed by sections explaining the compliance mechanisms of UNCLOS, the annual cycle of its review, the means by which UNCLOS has been developed, and the notion of UNCLOS as a constitution. The role of international organisations in developing the law of the sea is also outlined. The chapter concludes by providing a helpful and practical summary of materials on the law of the sea.

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