General Assembly Calls on All States to Become Parties to Convention on the Law of the Sea
General Assembly calls on all States to become Parties to Conventio on the Law of the Sea
The General Assembly on 10 December 1985 called on all States that had not done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea at the earliest "to allow the effective entry into force of the new legal regime for the uses of the sea and its resources".
In adopting resolution 40/63 by a vote of 140 in favour to 2 against (Turkey, United States), with 5 abstentions (Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Peru, United Kingdom, Venezuela), the Assembly asked all States to: safeguard the unified character of the Convention and related resolutions; desist from taking actions which "undermine the Convention or defeat its object and purpose"; and observer the Convention's provisions when enacting their national legislation.
An early adoption of the rules for registration of pioneer investors was urged, and note was taken of the 30 August 1985 Declaration of the Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The Declaration, recommended by the Group of 77 developing countries, reaffirmed that no State or person should claim, acquire or exercise rights with regard to minerals recovered from the sea-bed except in accordance with the Convention. "Deep concern" was expressed that some States had undertaken actions that "undermined" the Convention and were "contrary" to the Commission's mandate. The Commission declared that any claim or action regarding the international sea-bed area and its resources undertaken outside its purview and incompatible with the Convention would be rejected as a basis for creating legal rights and regarded as "wholly illegal". The Declaration also noted a letter from the Soviet Union regarding the "license granted by the United States of America for the exploitation of parts" of the international sea-bed area.
Report: The Secretary-General reported (A/40/923) the Law of the Sea Convention had closed for signature on 9 December 1984, having received a total of 159 signatures. The Convention was to enter into force 12 months after the date of the deposit of the sixtieth instrument of ratification or accession. As of 19 November 1985, 25 such instruments had been deposited with the Secretary-General.
Describing the influence the Convention's provisions had exerted on national policy, the report noted the enactment of legislation defining the limits of territorial seas and exclusive economic zones. It pointed also to maritime delimitation disputes that had been settled peacefully since the Convention was adopted--between Argentina and Chile, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, and Malta and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
The Secretary-General cited a growing tendency in the international community to promote the peaceful uses of the oceans. Attention was drawn to a 1985 study on the naval arms race (A/40/535); and adoption by the South Pacific Forum of the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty.
Developments in maritime law were reviewed, relating to maritime safety and navigation; rescue at sea and piracy; registration of ships; maritime labour law; and marine pollution, including the dumping of radioactive wastes at sea and into the sea-bed. Regional and international initiatives in the area of fisheries management and development were also discussed, as was the state of marine science and technology.
The work of the Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was reviewed. The Commission, established in 1982, is concerned with the elaboration of a sea-bed mining code and rules concerning the registration of pioneer investors (countries and consortia that have already begun exploration, research and development work related to the mining of polymetallic nodules); alleviating problems that sea-bed mineral production might pose for developing countries whose economies are dependent on land-based production of copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese; preparing for sea-bed mining by the Enterprise (the operational arm of the International Sea-Bed Authority); and making administrative, financial and budgetary preparations for the Authority.
Thus far, France, India, Japan and the USSR have applied for registration as pioneer investors. Overlaps exist between the application areas of Japan and the USSR and between the application areas of the USSR and France, all of which are in the north-east Pacific Ocean. In the case of India, there is no overlap since its application area is in the Indian Ocean.
There were 13 participants in the debate.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Group of 77 of the Preparatory Commission, said it had accepted the resolution in a spirit of co-operation and accommodation, although it fell short of "reasonable and justifiable expectations". Some recent developments threatened to undermine the international regime. The Convention was the only legal regime governing all activities in the international sea-bed area. Any other basis for asserting rights would have no legal authority and must be firmly rejected. The area and its resources could not be claimed and exploited by a State or a group of States outside the regime.
In the past year, two States had issued licences to their consortia permitting exploitation of area resources which constituted the common heritage of mankind. One other State was preparing to follow suit, despite the fact that those States had accepted the "common heritage" principle as contained in the 1970 Declaration of Principles Governing the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor, and the Subsoil thereof, Beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction. The issuance of licences undermined the Convention's regime and ran counter to the position of the 159 signatory States. The Group of 77 hoped that those States would not allow the situation to deteriorate so that the order painstakingly established through the Convention would become totally eroded. They should demonstrate deference to Convention objectives aimed at peaceful uses of the oceans. The Group of 77 had exercised moderation with a view to preserving the integrity of the regime which was in the interest of all signatory States. Those States had a duty to protect and strengthen the regime and oppose any action that would undermine it.
Turkey said the Convention did not meet the wishes of the international community, nor did it command a consensus of all States taking part in the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. It had been voted upon and had been adopted by a majority vote. While some provisions did not fully reflect Turkey's rights and basis interests, Turkey, along with some other States, had been compelled to vote against the Convention, and its position remained unchanged. Turkey also opposed including the budget of the Preparatory Commission in the overall United in the implementing of the Convention should be borne by signatory States or States Parties to the Convention.
Peru said its abstention did not prevent it from recognizing the historical value of the Convention and its significance for international cooperation as the basis for peace and development. For nearly 40 years, Peru had promoted the rights of coastal States over their adjacent sea to a distance of 200 miles, and had made special efforts to contribute to establishing a universal regime for the use of the sea-bed. Peru had viewed positively both the Convention and the Commission's work. Peru hoped that the progress made so far in developing this new body of law would make a definite contribution to the consolidation of that law, with full participation of all United Nations Members. The implications of Peru's accession to the Convention were being studied; that would permit Peru to "take a decision consistent with its national interests".
The Federal Republic of Germany said it had serious reservations regarding certain aspects of the text not acceptable to it. It had not signed the Convention because of objections to provisions on deep sea-bed mining. It had not, however, rejected the Convention regarding other matters and was committed to a comprehensive, universally acceptable Convention, based in all parts on a consensus. It intended to participate in any further negotiations towards that end.
Neither the resolution nor the Commission's 30 August Declaration was conductive to efforts to find a solution by consensus. The claim that the Convention, which was not yet in force, had established a regime for deep sea-bed activities, was without legal foundation. Elements of the resolution also tended to "burden the process for finding a consensus with controversial issues intead of trying to reconcile differing views". Nevertheless, the Federal Republic of Germany would continue to work for viable and generally acceptable solutions of unresolved issues.
The United States said the Convention was a major accomplishment in developing international law relating to the oceans. However, part XI, dealing with the deep sea-bed mining area, ran contrary to the policies of the United States and others regarding the future development of resources of the deep sea-bed.
Preparatory Commission costs should be borne by nations Party to the Convention. The United States, which has not signed the Convention, would continue to withhold its pro rata share of the United Nations annual assessment from the regular budget pertaining to Commission funding or ear-marked for implementing part XI. If and when the Convention entered into force, part XI of the Convention would not create legal obligations for, nor abridge the legal rights of, those nations that had not expressly consented to be bound by the Convention by ratification or accession.
The United States and its nationals, like other States and their nationals, had the legal right to explore and exploit deep sea-bed resources as part of a lawful exercise of high-seas freedoms. The United States would continue to co-operate with the international community to ensure that the important principles enshrined in the Convention, other than part XI, were widely respected.
The United Kingdom said, while not able to accept the regime for deep sea-mining as it appeared to result from the Convention, it continued to attend Preparatory Commission meetings and to work for a universally acceptable regime. The resolution was not helpful towards that objective; in particular, the reference to the Commission's Declaration. Activities relating to the sea-bed that took place outside the Convention were not illegal. In the absence of a generally accepted and thus effective regime, a State retained its rights and freedom of action in relation to the sea-bed. The United Kingdom would continue to work towards a universally acceptable regime.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: General Assembly Calls on All States to Become Parties to Convention on the Law of the Sea. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: UN Chronicle. Volume: 23. Publication date: February 1986. Page number: 66+. © 1998 United Nations Publications. COPYRIGHT 1986 Gale Group.