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Part II Practice—Scholarly and Practitioner Accounts of UN Treaty-Making, D International Law, Ch.25B Negotiating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: a practitioner’s reflection

Tommy Koh

From: The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties

Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, Santiago Villalpando

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 30 November 2023

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) applies to 70 percent of the earth’s surface, creating a legal order for the world’s oceans. It promotes peace and cooperation. It supports the peaceful settlement of disputes and the rule of law. This chapter offers a practitioner’s account of the negotiating process that led to the adoption of UNCLOS, based on the author’s experience as President of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. Among the distinctive features of that Conference were (1) the treaty-making conference began without a draft and used a single negotiating text, (2) the role of unofficial private negotiating groups, and (3) the avoidance of voting. These features proved vital to the success of the Conference.

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