Law of the Sea

Law of the Sea: The role of the Irish delegation at the Third UN Conference

Mahon Hayes
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Pages: 293
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  • Book Info
    Law of the Sea
    Book Description:

    The Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea defined the rights and duties of nations in the use of the world’s oceans. Ireland played a key role in achieving international consensus on many of the intractable issues addressed, and this book is the first to present a narrative account of the conference from the point of view of the Irish.

    eISBN: 978-1-908996-49-7
    Subjects: Law, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Satya N. Nandan

    This is an important treatise in which Ambassador Mahon Hayes has provided an account of the participation of the Irish delegation in the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. In doing so he has made a significant contribution to the literature on the negotiating history of this important Conference that concluded with the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention is an important contribution to the rule of law and forms the basis of the modern legal framework for ocean governance. It has provided clarity, certainty and stability...

    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Mahon Hayes
  6. Chapter I BACKGROUND
    (pp. 1-6)

    The post-medieval law of the sea could be said to date from the period following the great fifteenth- and sixteenth-century discovery voyages, with the writings of the distinguished Dutch scholar Hugo Grotius at the beginning of the seventeenth century as a milestone. As was the case with international law generally, the law of the sea emerged in the first instance as customary law through state practice (partly based on pre-Middle Ages rules, including codes adopted in the Roman Empire), supplemented by interstate agreements, the opinions of highly regarded jurists and common elements in national laws, etc. Thus, by evolution through...

    (pp. 7-16)

    The question of the composition of the Irish delegation to UNCLOS III came under consideration in 1973. Bearing in mind the wide range of issues involved it was clear that several departments would have a direct interest. The most obvious interests were those of the (then) Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries in fishery matters; of Industry and Commerce in mineral resources and in marine scientific research (MSR) and transfer of technology (TOT); of Local Government in environmental matters; of Transport and Power in maritime transport; of Defence in security and surveillance matters; and of Finance in MSR and economic and...

    (pp. 17-26)

    In 1972, at the proposal of the Department of Foreign Affairs, an Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) on the UNCLOS III was convened to coordinate the work of the departments having responsibilities in the fields covered by the Conference agenda, and to formulate policy proposals for the negotiations. The participating departments were the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Industry and Commerce (and the associated Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI)), the Department of Finance (including the National Science Council and the Revenue Commissioners), the Department of Transport and Power, the Department of Defence, the Department of Local Government, as well...

    (pp. 27-30)

    UNCLOS III was convened at the United Nations headquarters in New York for its First Session for two weeks, from 3 to 15 December, 1973. It was formally opened by the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kurt Waldheim. Ambassador Shirley H. Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka, who had chaired the Seabed Committee, was elected President.

    The attending delegates were Ambassador Cremin, head of delegation, and Raphael Siev, both from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    The session concerned itself exclusively with organisational and procedural matters. Further informal meetings were required, leading to completion of this work at the commencement of the second (and first...

  10. Chapter V SECOND SESSION
    (pp. 31-50)

    The second (and first substantive) session of UNCLOS III was held in Caracas for ten weeks, from 20 June to 29 August 1974. At the opening meeting it was addressed by the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of Venezuela and the Conference President.

    The delegation, led by Ambassador Cremin, included Seamus Mallon from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Keith Robinson and Piers Gardiner from the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI)(assigned by the Department of Industry and Commerce), Colm Ó hEocha from the National Science Council (assigned by the Department of Finance) and Brendan Finucane from the Department of Finance,...

  11. Chapter VI THIRD SESSION
    (pp. 51-72)

    The Third Session was held at the United Nations Office (Palais des Nations) in Geneva from 17 March to 9 May 1975 for eight weeks, including an optional extra week.

    The Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) met several times to consider the developments at the Second Session and to review policy in that light. Likewise the EEC delegations met for the same purpose, concentrating on fisheries, the international seabed area (ISBA), environment and marine scientific research (MSR).

    The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Justin Keating, called a meeting with the members of the delegation engaged in the continental shelf negotiation. At...

    (pp. 73-94)

    The Fourth Session was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York for eight weeks, from 15 March to 7 May 1976.

    The Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) considered the results of the Third Session and, in particular, examined the informal single negotiating text (ISNT), on the basis that it was intended to be the platform for future negotiations at the Conference. Mr John Kelly, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (having responsibility for the work of the legal divisioninter alia), arranged a meeting of several ministers from interested departments, attended also by members of the delegation,...

    (pp. 95-110)

    The Fifth Session was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York for seven weeks, from 2 August to 17 September 1976.

    In view of the short interval since the Fourth Session, intersessional consultations were less intensive than before previous sessions. Nevertheless, EEC coordination and cooperation meetings were held. UK opposition to formal proposal of the text of the ‘Community clause’ was withdrawn, and the EEC Council of Ministers adopted a decision that such a clause should be sought.

    The Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) met and the delegation instructions were reviewed in the light of developments. In the Department of...

  14. Chapter IX SIXTH SESSION
    (pp. 111-126)

    The Sixth Session was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York for eight weeks, from 23 May to 15 July 1977.

    The Conference President having suggested that there should be intersessional consultations on the ISBA regime, an Evensen Group meeting convened in March in Geneva to consider the topic. About 85 delegations attended, but unfortunately not the most hardline of the Group of 77 (G-77). The new US head of delegation, Mr Elliott Richardson, reconfirmed US willingness to accept start-up financing of the enterprise and a future review of the system of exploitation. No clear results emerged, but...

    (pp. 127-146)

    With the consent of the United Nations General Assembly the Seventh Session was held in two parts, at the Palais des Nations (UN Office) in Geneva for eight weeks, from 28 March to 19 May 1978, and at the UN headquarters in New York for four weeks, from 21 August to 15 September 1978. A resumption of the Seventh Session was preferred to calling a new session with a view to ensuring avoidance of a general debate, which was not unusual at the opening of a session.

    The report of an arbitration tribunal established to adjudicate on delimitation of the...

    (pp. 147-168)

    The Eighth Session was held, firstly, in Geneva for six weeks, from 19 March to 27 April 1979, and resumed in New York for six weeks, from 19 July to 24 August 1979. Ireland held the Presidency of the EEC in the second half of 1979, including the period of the New York meeting.

    An intersessional meeting was held in Geneva for three weeks from 23 January 1979. It focused on aspects of the international seabed area (ISBA) regime; the disputes settlement procedures aspect of delimitation and also some touching on the criteria and interim arrangements elements; and the continental...

    (pp. 169-190)

    The Ninth Session of the Conference was held in two parts, at the United Nations headquarters in New York for five weeks, from 3 March to 4 April 1980, and at the Palais des Nations in Geneva for five weeks, from 28 July to 29 August 1980.

    The Irish delegation, as Chairman, convened two intersessional meetings of the Margineers, in Geneva in November 1979 and in New York in January 1980, with a view to preparing a text on the ridges problem (in the formula for shelf outer limits identification) for the Ninth Session. Both were attended by the author...

    (pp. 191-204)

    Contrary to expectations at the end of the Ninth Session, the Tenth Session was again held in two parts, the first part at United Nations headquarters in New York for seven weeks, from 9 March to 24 April 1981.

    The Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) continued its meetings in Dublin, but less frequently in view of the advanced stage of the negotiations on issues of national interest, including effective settlement of most of them. The EEC meetings also continued (with ten members from 1 January 1981 when Greece became a member). The deliberations were confined almost entirely to the ‘Community clause’ and...

    (pp. 205-218)

    The second part of the Tenth Session was held at the United Nations Office (Palais des Nations) in Geneva for four weeks, from 3 to 28 August 1981.

    The Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) met between the two parts of the session, albeit briefly, as there was little to discuss as to policy, or even tactics, in the light of developments at the Conference. The EEC members met to discuss mainly the ‘Community clause’, and also developments in regard to the international seabed area (ISBA) regime, including the US stance. There was little hope of agreement on action on the latter as...

    (pp. 219-240)

    The first part of the Eleventh Session, which proved to be the final negotiating meeting as planned, was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York for eight weeks, from 8 March to 30 April 1982. It developed into an extremely active and eventful meeting.

    The preparations followed the usual pattern with meetings of the Inter-Departmental Committee in Dublin, although very few, and EEC coordination and cooperation meetings. The EEC meetings were concentrated mainly on the ‘Community clause’ and on the international seabed area (ISBA) regime. On the former the President’s revised text presented at the Tenth Session, comprising...

    (pp. 241-250)

    As arranged, a resumption of the Eleventh Session was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York for three days, from 22 to 24 September 1982.

    The agenda was mainly to deal with the proposals of the Drafting Committee (following its meeting during July and August to examine the convention provisions, the consideration of which it had not previously undertaken or completed), to finalise the drafting of the final act of the Conference and to determine the venue and dates of the Signature Session. Tidying up of some other details was also required. In the event it also became...

    (pp. 251-258)

    The Signature Session was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for one week, from 6 to 10 December 1982.

    European Economic Community meetings became more active after the resumed Eleventh Session. They undertook a general assessment of the situation, and particularly the question of participation. The details addressed included (a) the positions of the members on signature; (b) in the context of eventual EEC signature, the implications of signature by some but not all of the members; and (c) preparation of a declaration of the relevant competences that had been transferred to the EEC. At the beginning of these meetings Ireland...

    (pp. 259-262)

    UNCLOS III was a conference of huge consequence to all states, not only because of the very important national interests involved, but also as a world forum for international cooperation, implementing one of the main functions of its parent body, the UN. While the Conference was proceeding it was described by US Secretary of State Kissinger as ‘one of the most significant negotiations in diplomatic history’. At the Signature Session, Conference President Koh asserted that the objective of producing a comprehensive constitution for the oceans had been achieved. At that session also, Mr Gerald Collins, the Irish Minister for Foreign...

    (pp. 263-268)
    (pp. 269-272)
    (pp. 273-274)
    (pp. 275-276)
  28. Index
    (pp. 277-294)