Copyright (c) 2005 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law
ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law
U.S. MEMBERSHIP IN UNCLOS: WHAT CONSEQUENCES FOR THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT: U.S. MEMBERSHIP IN UNCLOS: WHAT EFFECTS FOR THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT?
11 ILSA J Int'l & Comp L 477
Howard S. Schiffman*
The issue of whether or not the U.S. should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or the Convention) 1 has been debated since the treaty was concluded in 1982. UNCLOS itself is one of the most significant achievements in international law in the Twentieth Century. The Convention consists of 320 articles and eight annexes. It is comprehensive, if not definitive, in its treatment of ocean usage. A hallmark of UNCLOS is the balancing of interests between coastal states and other maritime users. From the perspective of living marine resources such as fisheries, for example, UNCLOS offers a balance between the conservation and utilization of those resources. Without a doubt, UNCLOS contains numerous provisions addressing matters of the marine environment.
This article attempts to highlight in very broad strokes some of the key issues surrounding U.S. accession to UNCLOS, particularly with respect to the marine environment. It is neither a comprehensive review of the treaty provisions pertaining to the marine environment nor an exhaustive discussion of the law and politics of the advice and consent process asit presently stands in the U.S. Senate. With this parameter in mind, it is instructive to begin by understanding the context of this most recent attempt at the codification of the modern law of the sea.
II. The Historical Context of UNCLOS: The Need for a Better Treaty
The need for a more comprehensive treatment of ocean space became apparent after the four 1958 ...
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