Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Calls on All States to Become Parties to Convention on the Law of the Sea

Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Calls on All States to Become Parties to Convention on the Law of the Sea

Article excerpt

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. …

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