Introductory Remarks by Bernard Oxman

By Oxman, Bernard | Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview
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Introductory Remarks by Bernard Oxman


Oxman, Bernard, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law


This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea at the conclusion of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1982. In this connection, there are five other years we might also remember.

The first is 1951, when the International Law Commission began work on the codification and progressive development of the law of the sea, culminating in its report to the UN General Assembly in 1956.

The second is 1958, when the first Conference on the Law of the Sea adopted four conventions on the basis of the work of the ILC. Those conventions had significant influence, but were not embraced by many developing countries and did not stabilize state practice on a global basis.

The third is 1960, when the second Conference of the Law of the Sea was unable to agree on the maximum permissible breadth of the territorial sea.

The fourth is 1967, when serious private discussion between capitals began on the possibility of a new conference to agree on rules affecting basic security, economic, and environmental interests engaged by the law of the sea. At the same time, ideological debate was initiated in the General Assembly on the still unrealized promise of riches from the seabed beyond national jurisdiction. After difficult and inconclusive preparatory work, the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea began in 1973 and ended in 1982.

The fifth is 1994, twelve years after the conclusion of the Third Conference on the Law of the Sea, when the Convention entered into force and the General Assembly approved the Implementing Agreement amending Part XI, which made possible very widespread adherence to the Convention--widespread, but not yet global.

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