Law of the Sea: 'Refrain from Undermining the Convention'

Article excerpt

Calling on States to consider signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the General Assembly has appealed to all countries "to refrain from taking any action derected at undermining the Convention or defeating its object and purpose".

It also called on all States to safeguard the unified character of the Convention. The Assembly adopted resolution 38/59 A on 14 December, by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 2 against (Turkey, United States), with 6 abstentions (Belgium, Bolivia, Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Italy, United Kingdom).

The General Assmebly in the resolution approved the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report on the Third Conference on the Law of the Sea (document A/38/570).

One recommendation was that the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Law of the Sea should continue on an established basis as the core office of the United Nations for law of the sea matters.

The Secretary-General's report said the Office--set up in 1974 as the secretariat for the Conference-- possessed the necessary background knowledge and experience of the work of the Conference, the political and economic objectives of States, the intricacies of the formal and informal documentation of the Conference and the detailed features of the deifferent parts of the Convention. Its work would be complemented by relevant activities of other United Nations departments and bodies involved in marine affairs. Financing Issue: In the debate several countries had reservations about a preambular paragraph in the law of the sea resolution, which recalled the Assembly's approval of financing the expenses of the Preparatory Commission established by the Convention from the regular budget of the United Nations. Turkey reiterated that it reserved its right not to contribute to the expenses "emanating from the implementation" of the Law of the Sea Convention. The United States said that the costs of the Commission should be borne by those nations party to the Treaty. Also, it would not support that part of the Convention dealing with deep seabed development and would continue to withhold its share of the regular budget which was earmarked to Part xi of the Convention.

Addressing the United States position that it was illegitimate to charge the expenses of the Preparatory Commission to the regular budget of the United Nations, Singapore suggested that the doubt be resolved by seeking an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. A 'Major Achievement': In his report to the Assembly, the Secretary-General stated that the Law of the Sea Convention stood out as an exception in an era of eroding multilateralism and internationalism. Its adoption constituted one of the major achievements in the history of international relations, and the Organization should consolidate the successful outcome of that multilateral acceptance and effective application of the new legal regime of the seas.

The report further stated that the long-term planning process has taken into account that there would be no significant change in the totality of the Secretary-General's responsibilities in law of the sea affairs when the Convention comes into force. …

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