The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea was convened in New York in 1973, in order to produce a comprehensive treaty covering the world’s oceans. The conference, involving representatives of 160 nations, ended in 1982 with the adoption of the UNCLOS. The UNCLOS to which Australia is a party, entered into force on 16 November 1994.
UNCLOS attempts to regulate all aspects of the resources of the sea and uses of the ocean – it covers everything from navigational rights to the conservation and management of living marine resources. One of the most revolutionary features of UNCLOS is the EEZ, which recognises the right of coastal states to jurisdiction over all resources in the waters, ocean floor and subsoil of an area extending 200nm from its shore. Australia declared its 200nm EEZ in accordance with UNCLOS in 1979.
See the UNCLOS website for a list of countries that have ratified UNCLOS.