Cover Image
close this bookThe Oceanic Circle - Governing the Seas as a Global Resource (UNU, 1998, 257 pages)
close this folder4. Ocean perspectives: legal
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Convention: A bird's-eye view
View the documentSovereignty
View the documentLessons from the past
View the documentTerritorial boundaries versus joint management zones
View the documentConclusion
View the documentNotes

Lessons from the past

As noted above, there are different but converging ways of disaggregating sovereignty such as functional regimes; common markets; political communities; and one could indeed establish certain analogies between the regime of the European Coal and Steel Community, or the Schuman Plan, and the ocean regime, and lessons to be learned therefrom.

Coal and steel were important for economic development. They were also strategic resources. The genius of Jean Monnet was in the perception that the establishment of an international regime for the control and management of these resources would serve two purposes: to enhance economic recovery and development in war-torn Europe; and to promote European security by eliminating the German war-making potential. If these strategic industries were internationalized, they could not be used for war-making.

In the context of the new phase of the industrial revolution, the mineral resources of the deep sea-bed could be seen as the equivalent of coal and steel during the preceding phase. They, too, had an economic development as well as a strategic importance. Arvid Pardo foresaw that the internationalization of these resources, and of the high technologies to be developed for their production, would enhance both economic development and maritime security, preventing an arms race and the carving-up of the deep sea-bed.

The lesson to be learned from the coal and steel experience is that it turned out to be impossible to detach one sector of the economic system from the rest of it, or detach economics from politics. The coal and steel regime was a trigger mechanism that initiated the unification of Europe. The sea-bed mining regime may be destined to play a similar role in the world at large.

We raised this issue of the Coal and Steel Community and its common features with the nascent International Sea-bed Authority as early as 1970, at Pacem in Maribus I.15 Scheingold ascribed the success of the Coal and Steel Community, at that time, to two factors: first, the then-ruling Christian Democratic leaders, though committed to a market economy, decided to pool these industries rather than leave them to the vagaries of free trade. "Free trade arrangements were too ephemeral: what was needed was the kind of industrial interpenetration which would inextricably link these basic industries of the member states." Secondly, those leaders were united in the belief that an organization was needed that would be headed by an agency with the authority to make decisions binding not only on states but on juridical persons as well.

The International Seabed Authority, based on the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind, would have satisfied both these conditions.

Although the market-oriented Implementation Agreement of July 1994 made the Authority inoperable, it is hoped temporarily, the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind is here to stay. With its four dimensions - economic development; conservation of environment and resources; equity; peace and security - it constitutes a basis for sustainable development that simply cannot be implemented on any other basis. It builds a bridge to the non-Western cultures - a bridge that is needed at a time when Western hegemony must come to an end. And it is a principle of non-sovereignty as it is a principle of non-ownership, suited to the scientific, technological and environmental needs and recognitions of the post-industrial society and to the positive aspects of "globalization." It is the nature of the ocean, so different from that of the land, that forced humankind to embark on a course of innovation, just as the havoc left by World War II forced Europe to innovate - in a different but somewhat analogous way.