20 Ocean L. Memo 1 (1981)

handle is hein.journals/ocoaslme20 and id is 1 raw text is: 





Ocean and Coastal  Law Center - School of Law  * University of Oregon  - Eugene  97403





         Ocean. Law                                          emo


Issue  20


September, 1981


          IN DANGEROUS WATERS

     Will the Law of the Sea Treaty
Founder Under the Reagan Administration ?

           Jonathan I. Charney


  [Editor's introduction:
      Ocean Law Memo  is pleased to present
 the  following article by Law Professor
 Jonathan I. Charney of the Vanderbilt Law
 School.  Professor Charney has been a
 member of the U.S. Advisory Committee on
 the Law of the Sea since 1973 and is widely
 known as a Law of the Sea expert.  This
 article first appeared in the Summer 1981
 issue of The Vanderbilt Lawyer.   We are
 grateful to Professor Charney and The
 Vanderbilt Lawyer for permission to re-
 print the article.]


      The Third United Nations Conference
 on the Law of the Sea has been engaged in
 the negotiation of an international agree-
 ment to govern all aspects of nations'
 activities in the oceans.  The session that
 commenced earlier this spring at the United
 Nations  in New York was supposed to con-
 clude the negotiations paving the way for
 a formal signing ceremony this fall in
 Caracas.  Just before this session com-
 menced, the Reagan administration announced
 that it was not prepared to conclude the
 negotiations and would defer its decision
 pending a complete review of the entire
 subject.  To add emphasis to this announce-
 ment it replaced the top level of the
 United States delegation two days before
 the negotiations were to resume.  This led
 one former head of the United States dele-
 gation, Elliot Richardson, to dub this
 action as the second Saturday night
 massacre. Others have lauded the adminis-
 tration's actions for preventing a give-
 away to the Third World that would pre-
 judice our national interests. The situa-
 tion is far more complicated than either
 of these statements would imply.

     When the Reagan administration took
office it assumed responsibility for these
negotiations that have been in various
stages of progress since the late 1960s.
While the representative of Malta formally
initiated international discussion of the

        Distributed by: OSU Extension Service' Sea


   matter at the United Nations GeneraL
   Assembly, the United States and the Asvi4t
   Union had already begun discussions on the
   Law of the Sea due to their mutual concern
   that their military mobility was being jeo-
   pardized by expanding claims of national
   jurisdiction.  They were particularly con-
   cerned about the closure of international
   straits, the chokepoints for international
   navigation. When the issue did arise at
   the United Nations those two countries and
   their allies were the strongest supporters
   of the initiative. President Nixon's
   administration formally developed the basic
   United States position for the negotiations,
   and Presidents Ford and Carter continued
   to press forward.

       As matters evolved a multitude of sub-
  jects were placed on the agenda of the
  conference.  They include, among others:

       1.  The delimitation of maritime
  boundaries for the territorial sea, exclu-
  sive economic zone, continental shelf, and
  archipelagoes;

       2.  the navigation and overflight of
  the high seas, territorial sea, exclusive
  economic zone as well as straits used for
  international navigation;

       3.  the exploitation of marine living
  resources;

       4.  the conduct of marine scientific
  research;

       5.  the protection of the marine
  environment;

       6.  the rights of the landlocked and
 geographically disadvantaged states; and

      7.  the regime for the exploitation
 of deep seabed manganese nodules.

      The resulting working draft of the
 conference contains 320 articles and eicht

Grant Marine Advisory Program, Corvallis, OR 973'


September, 1981

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