Negotiators at UNCLOS-III were successful in achieving international agreement on many important aspects of the law of the sea; indeed, much of the 1982 Convention was treated by states as declaratory of customary law. Nevertheless, continuing opposition to Part XI on deep-seabed mining by Western industrialized states prevented them from ratifying the convention. Their unwillingness to become party to the treaty and the vague hope of some that an accommodation of views somehow could be achieved through the subsequent work of the Preparatory Commission established by Resolution I of UNCLOS-III led to a period of years in which the number of ratifications by developing states slowly grew and approached sixty, the number of ratifications needed to bring the convention into force.
Recognizing the need for universal acceptance of the ocean regime, seeing that the Preparatory Commission was not making needed progress, and taking advantage of the replacement of the Reagan Administration in Washington by that of George Bush, UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar began a consultation process. This effort was continued under the auspices of his successor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and achieved success with the advent of the Clinton Administration. 1
As will be seen below, in late July 1994 multilateral agreement was reached which would have the effect of making significant modifications in Part XI of the 1982 Convention. The United States and other developed states signed this agreement, indicating that with these revisions they would ratify the new law of the sea treaty. On November 16, 1994, twelve years after its adoption, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea entered into force.
But despite this important development, the fact is that the new convention provides only a framework for international efforts in the management of ocean use. While it resolves some very important jurisdictional questions, it leaves the answers to others ambiguous or open. Clearly, for example, further elaboration will be required on matters such as high-seas fisheries. Will the international legal system be able to assure the world that exploitation of living marine resources may be sustained? Can the legal system support efforts to conserve and effectively exploit fish stocks which straddle exclusive
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Publication information: Book title: International Law and Ocean Use Management. Contributors: Lawrence Juda - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 255.
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