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New Left Review I/95, January-February 1976


John Mathews

Law of the Sea

Delegates will assemble in New York in March this year for what will hopefully be the final substantive session of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (unclos), which was inaugurated in the same city in December 1973. Sessions at Caracas (1974) and Geneva (March and April 1975) failed to bring agreement on fundamental points, although a ‘single negotiating text’ was formulated for the first time at the end of the Geneva session. These delays in reaching agreement are symptomatic of irreconcilable conflicts of interest between the capitalist and socialist blocs, between the developed and underdeveloped nations, and to some extent between coastal and land-locked states. Most informed observers agree that time is running out for the conference; unless a convention can be agreed upon, at least in principle, at the New York session, there will be a rush of unilateral actions and probably a permanent militarization of ocean space. Already us consortia are champing at the bit to get their hands on seabed minerals, while fishing disputes around the world are being resolved unilaterally and bilaterally without any regard for a future international convention.

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