What Is the Function of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

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From 1982 to 1990, the United States accepted everything but Part XI as customary international law, while trying to establish an alternative regime for the exploitation of deep seabed minerals. An agreement has been reached with other seabed mining countries and licences have been granted to four international consortia. At the same time, the Preparatory Commission was established to prepare for the possible entry into force of the claims recognized by the Convention of applicants sponsored by the signatories to the Convention. Overlaps between the two groups have been resolved, but a decline in demand for minerals from the seabed has made seabed regulation much less relevant. In addition, the decline of socialism and the fall of communism in the late 1980s removed much of the support for some of the most controversial provisions of Part XI. The question of the various claims to territorial waters was raised in 1967 by Arvid Pardo of Malta at the United Nations and in 1973 in New York at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. In an attempt to reduce the possibility of nation-state groups dominating the negotiations, the conference used a consensus process rather than majority voting. With more than 160 countries participating, the conference lasted until 1982. The resulting Convention entered into force on 16 November 1994, one year after the 60th State, Guyana, ratified the treaty. Despite this very important first step, which led to a first codification of legislation for the sea, nations could not agree on the boundaries of maritime areas under national sovereignty. Conflicts between nations continued until a new United Nations conference in 1982, which eventually resulted in consensus. In the 1960s, progress towards an agreement was slowed by Third World countries. They feared that international conventions would deprive them of natural resources, fish and hydrocarbons, the exploitation of which was not possible at the time because it required huge financial investments.

These countries then requested a broad extension of their maritime territories in order to prevent other States from exploiting the natural resources of these areas. At the same time, technological advances for deep-sea fishing, mining, offshore oil production and the ever-increasing risks of human activities to the natural environment have led to a proliferation of mostly rival land claims and even unilateral decisions to restrict fishing and sailing rights. At the beginning of the 20th century. In the nineteenth century, some countries expressed a desire to expand national demands: to include mineral resources, to protect fish stocks, and to provide the means to enforce pollution controls. (The League of Nations convened a conference in The Hague in 1930, but no agreement was reached. [6]) Using the customary international principle of a nation`s right to protect its natural resources, President Harry S. Truman extended U.S. control to all natural resources on its continental shelf in 1945. Other nations quickly followed suit. Between 1946 and 1950, Chile, Peru and Ecuador extended their rights to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 km) to cover their humboldt River fishing grounds. Other countries have extended their territorial waters to 12 nautical miles (22 km).

[7] The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea makes a clear distinction between different areas of the sea. The old distinction between coastal areas, where countries could claim their sovereignty, and the high seas, where the general rule was that of freedom, still exists, but eventually an agreement was reached on the exact definition of these areas. The geographical boundary of these areas is determined in terms of distance from the coast. Each country is free to draw its own baseline in a reasonable way to define its coastline. This baseline is either the line that reaches the sea during the lowest tides, when the coast is fairly regular, or geometric straight lines that connect the capes when the coast is very rugged. From the coast to the high seas, the main areas are the internal waters, territorial waters, continental shelf and high seas. Inland waters include areas between the baseline and the coast. It includes ports, inland seas and ports. The subsoil and airspace below and above these areas are part of it. According to the second article of the Montego Bay Convention, these areas are considered to be part of the land territory of the neighbouring State. The state therefore has full sovereignty over them.

On many points, the 1982 Convention contains precise and detailed rules (e.g. B on peaceful passage through territorial waters and the definition of the continental shelf), but on other issues (e.B, safety of navigation, pollution prevention, conservation and management of fisheries), it merely provides a framework that establishes general principles but leaves rule-making to other treaties. .

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