Maritime Matters in Cambodia: Law of the Seas and Security

Cambodia is home to a number of economically important maritime resources, including fisheries, tourism, and shipping. With these resources come a variety of legal and security concerns that must be addressed in order to ensure the sustainable management of these resources. This article will explore the maritime matters in Cambodia, including the country’s maritime boundaries, the law of the seas in Cambodia, and security issues in Cambodia’s maritime region.

Cambodia’s Maritime Boundaries

Cambodia is bounded to the west by Thailand, to the north by Laos, and to the east and south by Vietnam. The country also has over 400 kilometers of coastline along the Gulf of Thailand. The main maritime boundaries of the country are delineated in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which sets out the limits of maritime countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs). As a signatory to the UNCLOS, Cambodia is entitled to an EEZ of 200 nautical miles surrounding the country’s coasts. Within this EEZ, Cambodia is entitled to exclusive rights to explore and exploit natural resources, including fisheries and oil and gas reserves.

Law of the Seas in Cambodia

In addition to the UNCLOS, Cambodia has also signed and ratified the 1994 Agreement Relating to the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles between Cambodia and Thailand. This agreement determines the boundaries of the continental shelf, which are the areas of seabed and subsoil beyond the EEZ. It is important to note that the agreement is not legally binding and is subject to revision if the two nations agree.

Cambodia is also a party to a number of other international treaties and conventions related to maritime law, including the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources (1992), the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (1986), and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (1974).

Security Issues in Cambodia’s Maritime Region

Cambodia’s maritime region is subject to a variety of security issues, including illegal fishing, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and piracy. In order to address these issues, Cambodia has implemented a number of measures, including improved port security, increased patrols by the Royal Cambodian Navy, and increased cooperation with regional and international organizations.

In addition, Cambodia has also established a Maritime Coordination Centre (MCC) in Sihanoukville, which is tasked with monitoring, assessing, and responding to maritime threats in the region. The MCC works closely with the National Committee for Maritime Security (NCMS), which is responsible for developing and coordinating Cambodia’s maritime security policies.

Challenges for Cambodia

Despite these efforts, Cambodia still faces a number of challenges in its efforts to strengthen maritime security. These include a lack of resources and capacity, limited access to advanced technological solutions, and inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks. Additionally, the country’s limited sea-going vessels and personnel make it difficult to effectively monitor and patrol the country’s maritime region.

Moreover, the Gulf of Thailand is a busy shipping lane, and the presence of a variety of vessels ranging from fishing boats to cargo ships can make it difficult to monitor and intercept illicit vessels. Furthermore, Cambodia’s limited resources, both human and financial, limit its ability to respond to maritime threats.


Maritime matters are of great importance to Cambodia, as the country’s maritime resources are economically and environmentally essential. In order to effectively manage these resources and protect their sustainability, Cambodia must address the legal and security issues in its maritime region. This will require increased resources and capacity, improved access to advanced technological solutions, and strengthened legal and regulatory frameworks. Although these challenges may be daunting, Cambodia is working to ensure the sustainable management of its maritime region.