Section 6. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea



1.  Overview


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982, was signed by 159 countries during the two years period opening for signature.

The Convention is to enter into force one year after the date of deposit of the 60th instrument of ratification or accession. By the end of April 1987, 32 countries ratified it. Japan signed the Convention in February 1983 and intends to determine its final position on ratification after ascertaining the attitudes of other countries, both industrial and developing, and following developments at the Preparatory Commission. The United States did not sign the Convention because of its objection to the deep seabed mining provision. The United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany likewise did not sign the Convention. (Non-signatory states may participate in the Convention in the future, following accession procedures.)



2.  Activities of the Preparatory Commission


(1)  The Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which has been meeting twice a year since spring 1983 to prepare for the entry into force of the Convention, began discussions on substantive matters at its second session in spring 1984. In addition to its work on rules and regulations of the International Sea-Bed Authority, the problem of land-based producers stemming from exploitation of deep-sea minerals, the establishment of the Enterprise as an international mining entity, deep sea-bed mining codes and rules for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Preparatory Commission also has the task of implementing the resolution on the protection of pioneer investors, which guarantees certain rights regarding investments made for deep sea-bed mining before the entry into force of the Convention.

Through discussions on these matters at the Preparatory Commission, Japan has been making active efforts to render the Convention acceptable to the entire international community, including industrial countries.

(2)  The Commission held the summer meeting of its fourth session in New York from August 11 to September 5, 1986. In addition to its regular work on rules and regulations for the International Sea-Bed Authority and other matters, the Commission held concentrated discussions for the solution of overlaps of deep sea-bed mine sites, which is a prerequisite for the implementation of the resolution on pioneer investors protection (Resolution II). As a result, an understanding setting forth a framework for the solution of the problem ( "the chairman's statement for the implementation of Resolution II") was adopted by consensus.

Among Japan, France, the Soviet Union and India, which had filed applications for mine sites with the Preparatory Commission, overlaps were found between Japan and the Soviet Union and between France and the Soviet Union. It was deemed very difficult to solve the substantial overlapping of the French and Soviet sites in a manner that would satisfy the requirements of Resolution II. There was another major problem of how to settle the overlapping of the Soviet mine sites and those of the U.S. based consortia which remain outside the Convention. Over the past two years, intensive consultations were held among the parties concerned over how to settle these difficult problems.

The understanding reached at the summer meeting allowed for flexible application of the provisions of Resolution II, thus opening the way for solving the overlaps between Japan and the Soviet Union and between France and the Soviet Union, and leaving open the possibility for non-signatories to participate in the Convention in the future. It also set out a timetable for the registration of mine sites of Japan, France, the Soviet Union and India during the spring meeting in March 1987.

(3)  On the basis of the above understanding, preparatory work and consultations were conducted between the summer and spring meetings. Negotiations between the Soviet Union and countries involved in U.S. consortia, while making some progress, did not come to a conclusion, and the parties concerned sought an extension of the deadline for the talks. After receiving from the Soviet Union a report on the state of the negotiations, Japan, France and India refrained from making re-applications to the Preparatory Commission, because of the principle of simultaneous examination and registration previously agreed upon.

(4)  The request for an extension of the negotiation deadline was the biggest issue at the spring meeting held in Jamaica from March 30 through April 16, 1987, which also dealt with the regular work on rules and regulations for the International Sea-Bed Authority and other matters. Developing countries and the Soviet Union, seeking early registration, proposed that negotiations be concluded by the summer meeting (July 27 through August 21). Japan and France, together with countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, representing the interests of the U.S. based consortia, insisted that for the future of the Convention, it was desirable to leave room for further postponement of the registration in case the negotiations were not settled by summer. In the end, the meeting adopted a chairman's statement which left open a possibility of postponement beyond summer under certain circumstances while seeking, in principle, the registration of mine sites of four pioneer investors during the summer meeting.

At the same spring meeting, Joseph Warioba, Chairman of the Preparatory Commission, officially expressed his intention to resign, because of his appointment as First Vice President and Prime Minister of Tanzania in November 1985. The selection of his successor was put off until the summer meeting because more time was needed for negotiations among the various groups.



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