|The Oceanic Circle - Governing the Seas as a Global Resource (UNU, 1998, 257 pages)|
This book is organized in six chapters. Chapter 1 stresses the importance of the oceans within the global life support system. This importance, often neglected, cannot be overrated. Without the pretence of offering a lesson in oceanography, the chapter traces the development of marine sciences and technology from the animal kingdom through the "primitive era" to some examples in our own era. This will set the physical parameters for the book. It will deal with the threats to the health of the oceans and the biosphere in a somewhat wider context than is generally assumed. "The more we know the more we know how little we know." Science and technology, though fundamentally important, are not enough to stem the race toward ecocatastrophe. The magnitude of uncertainty will be emphasized. Carbon cycles, water cycles, and mineral cycles symbolize the majesty of the oceanic circle.
Chapter 2 will attempt to fathom the cultural dimension of ocean space, for the way we deal with the oceans, or nature in general, is largely determined by our cultural background. If we take humankind as a part of nature, we get one result; if human activities and nature are two separate subsystems, we get a different picture. The chapter will give a succinct overview of the role of the oceans in the historic and cultural evolution of humankind, as expressed inter alia through literature, the arts, music. It will also deal with the oceans and warfare. The linkages between cultural, economic, and naval developments will be highlighted.
Chapter 3 is organized in four sections. The first section describes the wealth of the ocean in three parts; first: the current "market value" of ocean-related goods and services, which can be expressed in dollars and cents. This part is far larger than had been estimated in the past. By far the biggest factors are sea-borne trade, which accounts for over 90 per cent of all international trade, and the explosive growth of ocean-related tourism, including cruise ship traffic. Most recent developments in the underwater fibre optics cable industry have added another amazingly large factor. The second part gives some indication of the market value of some of the new ocean industries likely to come to fruition in the next century; and thirdly, we will look at the value of the ocean as part of our life support system.
Considering the overwhelming importance of the non-quantifiable, not-monetarizable part of the wealth of the ocean; considering also that there is widespread dissatisfaction today with the notion of GNP or GDP as indicators of wealth and welfare, the second section of this chapter explores what might be appropriate indicators for assessing the real wealth of the oceans. There is a vast literature on social and environmental indicators today, but this literature focuses on the terrestrial economy. The oceans have been sadly and inexplicably neglected. The third section deals with the ethical or spiritual dimension of the emerging economics of sustainable development - in the oceans as a case study - which, however would be applicable more generally. The fourth section, finally, will try to deduce some fundamental principles and practical guidelines from the previous sections.
Chapter 4 will confront "land perspectives" with "ocean perspectives." A medium quite different from the earth, the oceans force us to think differently. Just as one cannot apply the laws of gravity in outer space, many "terrestrial" concepts simply will not work in the ocean medium. These concepts include property in the Roman Law sense, sovereignty in the sense of the "Westphalian era," and "territorial boundaries," which neither fish nor pollution will respect. The chapter will focus on the concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind, with its economic, environment, and disarmament dimensions and its relations to "sustainable development" and "comprehensive security." It will start with an analysis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with only cursory attention to legal and perhaps transitory details, while emphasizing the truly innovative concepts and principles of this "Constitution for the Ocean," which are "systems-transforming" and have provided the foundation for the whole process emanating from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). All this will be seen in the broader perspective of the restructuring of the United Nations system.
Chapter 5 will try to capture the emerging shapes of ocean governance. Based on all the foregoing, this chapter will develop a "normative vision" of ocean governance and management, cognizant of the "transparency" of the "boundaries" both horizontal (as between disciplines, departments, ministries, specialized agencies and programmes) and vertical (as between levels of governance: local, national, regional, and global), and committed to the principles of sustainable development, common and comprehensive security, equity, common heritage, and participation. The chapter will examine the regimes established by the various post-UNCED Conventions, agreements and action programmes (climate, biodiversity, high-seas fisheries, small islands, coastal management, land-based sources of pollution) as they interact in the oceans, and will try to find ways in which they could be used so as to reinforce rather than duplicate one another.
Chapter 6, finally, will examine perspectives on the "blue planet" as a whole. The UNCLOS/UNCED process, triggered by the dramatic changes that have taken place during the first three-quarters of this century, is itself a powerful agent of change. This final chapter will widen the horizon. The ocean will be considered as a great laboratory for the making of a genuinely new international/national political, legal, and social order. The lessons to be learned from 30 years of work with the oceans will be examined and their potential contribution to the "solutique" of the fundamental issues facing us as we enter the new millennium (insecurity, poverty, inequity, human and environmental ruin) will be elucidated. We may never reach the majesty of the oceanic circle, but the way is the goal.