UNCLOS III Process model


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The United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea was ground breaking in the way negotiations were conducted. Several strategies were employed that allowed for efficient negotiation and a reasonable outcome as viewed by all participating parties.

Procedural agreements allowed for a streamlined approach, single negotiation texts, systems thinking and organization allowed for an efficient use of resources and time, integrative approaches were used. These tools allowed for a large problem to be whittled down to smaller issues, once these smaller issues were resolved, the larger issues could be dealt with in conjunction with the results of the smaller issues.

In 1982 the United Nations was able to enact the first enforceable international environmental law, which was binding and guided nations on the use of the ocean and seas. One of the reasons that this convention was successful was the belief in the idea that the ocean is interconnected with the environment and should be viewed as system rather than just an isolated situation. Oil, food and minerals are all harvested from the ocean, the world is dependant of this activity, until the UNCLOS III, there was not governing laws on the use or misuse of these natural resources.

Creating a systems approach to organization of the conference was key in the development of the new laws. Committee selection based on the type of relationship with the ocean zone being discussed allowed for countries to have an influence on their own interest. Additionally, the breaking down of national barriers to negotiate and then have the agreements reviewed by non-committee members allowed for a streamlined approach to this conference. Often, committees do not know where to start when developing guidelines or agreements; this problem was solved with single negotiation text (SNT). The idea behind SNT was to create an outline and structure for negotiations. If you can “jump-start" negotiations by using common language and structure, then the small details need only to be negotiated. Many of the ideas from the Law of The Sea can be taken and used in negotiations that are being conducted today. Issues that have so many different dynamics require a negotiation structure similar to UNCLOS.

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