Where trends the law of the sea?

John King Gamble

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This paper is partly based on the response to a ques tionnaire sent to a number of experts on the law of the sea in order to find out whether there is any consensus about future trends in that area of international law. Actually, the results show quite a variety of viewpoints. The author also finds inter alia that books and articles that some years ago tried to forecast present-day trends are not too numerous and are in general disappointing. The following section deals with the UNCLOS III Draft Treaty on the Law of the Sea and posits three possible future outcomes: Complete failure to enter into force; entry into force with so few parties that global acceptance cannot be inferred; and entry into force with a vast majority of states signing and ratifying it, the last possibility being held to be the one most unlikely of materialization. The width of the coastal areas to be placed under national jurisdiction is also a contentious issue, made more difficult by the split between developed and developing states. In the author's opinion, conciliation is more probable now than it has been in the past, although the weight of the evidence suggests a more pessimistic future scenario. Another significant fact to be considered in the future is the emergence of perhaps as many as fifty new developing mini-states, all of which will be concerned with the law of the sea and the New.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-91
Number of pages31
JournalOcean Development and International Law
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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