The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), founded in Oct. 1996 and based in Hamburg, adjudicates on disputes relating to the interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention gives the Tribunal jurisdiction to resolve a variety of international law of the sea disputes such as the delimitation of maritime zones, fisheries, navigation and the protection of the marine environment. Its Seabed Disputes Chamber has compulsory jurisdiction to resolve disputes amongst States, the International Seabed Authority, companies and private individuals, arising out of the exploitation of the deep seabed. The Tribunal also has compulsory jurisdiction in certain instances to protect the rights of parties to a dispute or to prevent serious harm to the marine environment, and over the prompt release of arrested vessels and their crews upon the deposit of a security. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal also extends to all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal. The Tribunal is composed of 21 judges, elected by signatories from five world regional blocs: five each from Africa and Asia; four from Western Europe and other States; four from Latin America and the Caribbean; and three from Eastern Europe. The judges serve a term of nine years, with one third of the judges’ terms expiring every three years.
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