The International Tribunal for Law of the Sea has reported several characters in The Little Mermaid are in breach of their obligations under the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Illegal fishing: The fact that Prince Eric obtains Ariel by the end of the film, potentially constitutes illegal fishing. This depends on whether mermaids are deemed a “protected species”. While the legislation is silent on mermaids per se, they are extremely rare and Ariel is a red head so it is likely made out. Article 56 of UNCLOS empowers King Triton to regulate Eric’s fishing. He may therefore direct Eric to fish one his other six daughters, who sing less than Ariel.
Agreements: The agreement between Ariel and Ursula is questionable under contract law. Ariel agrees to give her voice in exchange for Ursula turning her into a human for three days. Query whether performance of this clause is possible. The agreement also specifies that Ariel must obtain “true love’s kiss” within three days otherwise she’ll revert back to a mermaid and belong to Ursula forever. This clause has slavery vibes that a court is unlikely to enforce. Moreover, the requirement that Ariel obtain “true love’s kiss” is void due to frustration … with Eric. He’s really annoying.
Exertion of jurisdiction over the high seas: Towards the end of the film, Ursula turns into a monster and yells “I am the ruler of all the ocean! The waves obey me! The sea and all its toils bow to my power!” This is both delusional and a clear exertion of jurisdiction over the high seas. She is therefore in breach of Article 87 of UNCLOS. As she dies minutes later (spoiler alert but you’ve had 32 years to watch it), the Permanent Court of Arbitration is unlikely to follow up.
Hot pursuit: Ariel’s hot pursuit of Eric is likely in breach of procedural requirements under Article 111 of UNCLOS and every requirement of feminism (she literally gives up her voice). Moreover, the stop start nature of their romance may constitute an interruption and invalidate the pursuit altogether. Though UNCLOS is silent on multilateral hot pursuits, it is clear from the facts that Ariel called “dibs” on Eric long before Vanessa (aka Ursula in disguise).
The exclusive economic zone: UNCLOS defines the exclusive economic zone as up to 200 nautical miles from the shore. Eric has yet to define his exclusivity with Ariel as he is a white boy in his twenties and wants to “keep things casual.”
You want thingabobs? Ariel’s hoarding of inane human objects may constitute pollution under UNCLOS. Failing that, her constant singing is clearly noise pollution. Article 220 empowers King Triton to enforce measures to prevent, reduce and control Ariel’s “pollution” of the sea. We recommend singing lessons.
Piracy: Don’t even get me started on Pirates of the Caribbean.