Brown, Seyom; Fabian, Larry L.
January 1974
Foreign Affairs;Jan1974, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p301
Three factors will shape the outcome of the Law of the Sea Conference: ocean resources which are becoming rapidly more accessible and valuable; resulting damage to the marine environment; the political and ecological importance of the ‘continental margins’ where almost all the activity takes place. Until recently, the theory that no nation can claim sovereignty over the sea beyond a narrow coastal limit, has held sway. Now, however, it is coming under increased attack as various nations stake much wider claims. What tends to be ignored is that the ocean can not be regarded as a two‐dimensional extension of the land. It is a total environment in depth, a shared and finite world resource. While there is disagreement over the actual extent and nature of national jurisdiction, more important are the ground rules determining the relationship between coastal and maritime interests in areas under immediate coastal control, in particular the strategically important straits areas. There is widely varying opinion of the nature and scope of controls over these areas, and on the rights of landlocked and technologically backward countries. The bargaining process now under way reflects current world politics, except that ideology is a less important factor than geographical placement and technological advancement, which may prevent dangerous confrontations but renders the whole problem more complex. The U.S. has a clear responsibility to recognize the larger global interest in management of the seas, and not only merely to advance its own pre‐eminence. It must provide a lead in revenue sharing and in ecological measures which reject the whole notion of maritime territoriality.


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