Having received and considered the report of the ILC containing the draft articles and commentary, the United Nations General Assembly called for an international conference and charged it to
examine the law of the sea, taking account not only of the legal, but also of the technical, biological, economic and political aspects of the problem, and to embody the results of its work in one or more international conventions or such other instruments as it may deem appropriate. 1
With this mandate diplomats from some eighty-six states came together in Geneva from February 24 to April 27, 1958 at what was later to be termed the First United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS-I.
While some of the individuals who served as members of the ILC in that body’s examination of ocean law also participated as members of their national delegation at this diplomatic conference, the tone in Geneva soon revealed itself to be different, with discussions being more overtly political and less abstract. Despite rhetorical flourishes to the contrary, delegates were now clearly operating as national advocates, attempting to shape the law to suit defined national interests.
If widely accepted, whatever provisions were to be agreed to would have substantial effects on how ocean space would be utilized in the future; the rules of the game which would outline internationally acceptable behavior in the oceans were being defined. Moreover, the regime being developed not only would set standards for conduct but, it was recognized, would also have allocative consequences. It was easy to agree that there should be acceptable rules binding on all; but what should be the substance of those rules and how would differences regarding their interpretation be settled? Not surprisingly, the manner in which states utilized or hoped to utilize the multiple-use