Utrecht University School of Law

The Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) is a nationally and internationally renowned research institute. NILOS - established in 1984 - operates within Utrecht University in the framework of the School of Law's department of International and European Law (IER), as well as within the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law.

NILOS staff also participates in the research group UNIJURIS (unilateralism and the protection of global interests).

The basic aims of NILOS are:

  • Developing and sustaining expertise on the law of the sea and oceans governance;
  • Enhancing and broadening awareness and knowledge of the law of the sea and oceans governance; and
  • Assisting states - in particular developing states -, intergovernmental organisations, national and international non-governmental organisations, companies and individuals in implementing and applying the law of the sea.

Core activities:




The oceans are essential for maintaining life on earth, their mineral resources are increasingly important to the world economy and marine fisheries significantly contribute to ensuring food security. 90% of all international trade is seaborne and most data communication is through submarine cables. Pursuing an effective governance regime for the oceans continues to be a challenge for the international community.

The current regime for the oceans is built on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS). This framework convention divides the oceans in various coastal state maritime zones and international areas. In all these areas the legal regime seeks to maintain a balance between the rights and interests of individual states and the international community.

Utrecht University School of Law