Darman, Richard G.
January 1978
Foreign Affairs;Jan1978, Vol. 56 Issue 2, p373
The article discusses that the U.S. can best serve its proper interests and the world's by reorienting its Law of the Sea strategy and advancing a set of policies and initiatives that do not depend upon Conference approval for their beneficial effect. The closing events of the last session of the Conference provided a strong stimulus to a fundamental rethinking of U.S. interests and strategy with regard to the Law of the Sea. On July 20, 1977, the president of the Conference released a negotiating document that many hoped would mark the final stage in the seemingly unending quest for a comprehensive treaty. On the same day as the Informal Composite Negotiating Text was released, the U.S.--without whose participation there cannot be a workable treaty--termed the deep seabed provisions of the text fundamentally unacceptable. One of the many remarkable characteristics of the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea is the scope of its ambition. Simply put, it seeks to establish a system of governance--political, economic, administrative and judicial--for two-thirds of the earth's surface. The apparent grandiosity of this conception should be set against the consideration that the surface involved is now largely undeveloped--indeed, covered with water. The U.S., of course, has important interests in all these functions. For the past decade, however, national security interests--particularly interests associated with military functions--have been predominant in the development of U.S. policy toward a comprehensive treaty on the Law of the Sea.


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