Academic journal article Texas Review of Law & Politics

The Controversial Part XI

Academic journal article Texas Review of Law & Politics

The Controversial Part XI

Article excerpt

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been around for over thirty years.1 It was negotiated over a nineyear period and opened for signature in 1982.2 It embodies many rules, particularly of navigation, that had been embodied in earlier treaties.3 But it also codifies many important rules that had developed over a very short period of time, such as the extension of the territorial sea from 3 to 12 miles4 and the establishment of exclusive economic zones out to 200 nautical miles.5 These changes required still newer navigational rules, which the Convention contains.6

The Convention also contained a very unfortunate element, Part XI, dealing with mining activities on the deep seabed that are within international jurisdiction.7 Part XI contained the worst anti-market provisions that one could imagine coming out of the 1970s.8 Because of Part XI, President Reagan refused to sign the Convention,9 but he adopted the remainder of the Convention, which dealt with navigation and economic issues, as United States oceans policy.10

The portions of Part XI that were unacceptable to most industrialized countries were rewritten in 1994.11 Thus far, 155 countries have ratified the Convention,u and 129, the Part XI agreement.13 The U.S. has not signed or ratified either. President Bush requested that the Senate give its advice and consent to ratification in 2004, and last month reissued that request.14 The conservative base has effectively blocked Senate action.15 The question that remains is whether conservatives should continue this approach.

1. The Conference first convened in 1973. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: A Historical Perspective, http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_historical_perspecti ve.htm#Historical%20Perspective (last visited May 20, 2008). For scholarly commentary on the Convention, see UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA 1982: A COMMENTARY (Myron H. Nordquist et al. eds., 1985-2002).

2. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Dec. 10, 1982, 1833 U.N.T.S. 396 [hereinafter UNCLOS].

3. See, e.g., United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Apr. 29, 1958, 13 U.S.T. 2312, 450 U.N.T.S. 83 (establishing the freedom of navigation, freedom of fishing, freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines, and freedom to fly over the high seas).

4. UNCLOS, supra note 2, art. …

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