Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


John W. Kindt

First Page



This Essay discusses the merits of the dispute settlement provisions found in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and calls for recognition and utilization of the provisions in all manner of disputes arising within the international legal community. Professor Kindt notes that despite the fact that the Convention's dispute settlement provisions represent the first time all major interest blocs of states have agreed upon a standard set of provisions for dispute settlement, the provisions have not received the attention they deserve. After analyzing the reasons for this lack of consideration, he urges that the dispute settlement provisions serve as quasi-boilerplate language in multilateral treaties, especially in the area of international environmental law. In part H of this Essay, Professor Kindt examines the application of these provisions in relation to particular law of the sea issues and argues that more extensive use of the dispute settlement provisions would better serve the goal of maintaining a favorable legal order. He cites specific recent examples in which the application of these provisions would have fostered the resolution of disputes. In part III, Professor Kindt analyzes the three major divisions of the dispute settlement provisions: 1) the general provisions; 2) the compulsory procedures leading to binding decisions; and 3) the limitations and exceptions to compulsory procedures. He then explains their application in a variety of situations and concludes that the provisions offer a stable and efficient means of handling international disputes, especially with regard to environmental issues. Since a large number of countries representing a wide array of political, economic, and ideological views agreed to the substance of the dispute settlement provisions, Professor Kindt argues that the provisions represent customary international law and should be utilized to the fullest extent possible.