The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Borgese, Elisabeth Mann, UNESCO Courier
The adoption in 1982 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was a milestone in the history of international relations. The Convention contains the first comprehensive, binding, enforceable international environmental law. it is the first legal instrument effectively to integrate environment and development within the concept of sustainable development. It is also the first instrument to provide for a system of mandatory, binding settlement of disputes arising not only from environmental issues but from all other issues relating to the uses of seas and oceans.
The Convention is based on two fundamental concepts: the concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind and the idea that the problems of ocean space are closely interelated and need to be considered as a whole.
The concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind, applicable to areas (such as the deep seabed or outer space), to resources (such as minerals and metals), and to abstractions (such as science and technology) subsumes four other fundamental concepts:
Development The Common Heritage of Mankind must be developed for the benefit of mankind as a whole.
Equity: in the distribution of benefits, particular consideration must be given to the poor and disadvantaged.
Environment- The Common Heritage of Mankind must be developed with due consideration for the conservation of the environment and its resources. Mankind includes present and future generations, which have an equal right to share in the common heritage.
Security, The Common Heritage of Mankind is reserved for exclusively peaceful purposes.
The incorporation of the Common Heritage concept in the UN Convention is of such far-reaching cultural importance that we have not even begun to fathom all its implications.
The Common Heritage of Mankind implies a new economic theory, based on a new concept of ownership, or rather non-ownership, which may provide a point of convergence in a common effort to meet the environmental challenge.
The economics and philosophy of the common heritage provide a logical basis for common and comprehensive security. Common, since in the …
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Publication information: Article title: The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Contributors: Borgese, Elisabeth Mann - Author. Magazine title: UNESCO Courier. Publication date: August-September 1991. Page number: 53. © 1984 UNESCO. COPYRIGHT 1991 Gale Group.
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