Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



On March 15, 1976, the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference reconvened in New York City. The task of this Conference, drafting a new and comprehensive law of the sea treaty, is enormous. At the very least the new treaty will modify many of the traditional patterns for use and control of hydrospace. There is no doubt that coastal states will achieve the right to exercise control over all resources within 200 nautical miles of their coasts. If this contingency is not implemented by treaty, then it will be reached by unilateral claims to these zones. Agreeing on treaty provisions has been difficult because the issues are of immense value in economic, political, strategic, and psychological terms. Because the issues are of such importance, dispute settlement has been cast as an integral part of any new law of the sea convention.

The dispute settlement issue will be examined in three ways. First, assertions about the importance of dispute settlement and its relationship to the mission of the Conference will be summarized. Secondly, specific proposals for dispute settlement provisions will be discussed. Thirdly, the situation at the Law of the Sea Conference will be compared with other dispute settlement situations.