The third session of the United Nations Law of the Sea conference, which starts in New York on 15th March, will be the most crucial yet, according to the conference chairman, Ambassador Hamilton Amerasinghe, of Sir Lanka.
SV INT Delegation sitting before newsmen. (SILENT)
SV Newsmen listening.(SILENT)
CU Ambassador Hamilton Amerasinghe speaking. (5 shots)
AMERASINGHE: "I am very happy to have this occasion of meeting with the press on the eve of the fourth session of the third United Nations conference on the Law of the Sea. And it's going to be perhaps the most crucial session held so far. It has been made clear from the very start there are at least three main issues on which agreement should be reached to form the core of a package, a hard core package. That is the maximum breadth of the territorial sea; the question of exclusive economic zones, nature and characteristics and the right of the coastal state in that zone; up to a 200-mile zone, and the question of unimpeded passage through straits used in international navigation.
Now that is not an exhaustive list but they are, I think, the hard core."
REPORTER: "A lot of people in this building say that you will not finish your work in this fourth session. You'll need a fifth and may be a sixth. What are your expectations?"
AMERASINGHE: "I would think that we must finish during this session. But if that is not possible, it is clear that we either abandon the task altogether or have a further session or sessions. I cannot say that there will be. I cannot indulge in prophesy."
REPORTER: "But it appears very likely?"
AMERASINGHE: "It wouldn't be improbable, because it is the first occasion on which we are really beginning to negotiate. And given the rules of procedure and stress laid on arriving at general agreement and exhausting all efforts at reaching such agreement before we make a decision. I would say it is not unlikely we would need another session. But that doesn't mean we cannot achieve remarkable success at this session and arrive at a generally acceptable treaty."
The United Nations Law of the Sea conference begins a crucial third session in New York on the 15th of March. Conference chairman Hamilton Amerasinghe of Sir Lanka says it's the most important yet.
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The film includes an interview at a news conference with Mr. Amerasinghe. A transcript follows:-
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The third session of the United Nations Law of the Sea conference, which starts in New York on 15th March, will be the most crucial yet, according to the conference chairman, Ambassador Hamilton Amerasinghe, of Sir Lanka.
He said there would be three main issues on which agreement had to be made: a 200 nautical mile exclusive "economic zone" offshore of coastal states; a maximum 12 nautical mile territorial sea; and a new international body that would be responsible for all the seabed outside the exclusive economic zone.
The conference has the delicate task of preventing countries quarrelling among themselves to divide the oceans, which over 70 per cent of the earth's surface.
Experts on the subject say that failure at the highly complex conference would greatly increase the risk of unilateral action by some governments.
The conference has been trying to negotiate an international treaty to govern the uses of the sea and to exploit the wealth of the oceans.
The eight-week session will be held under the shadow of the bitter Anglo-icelandic fisheries dispute which has led to a break in relations between the two NATO allies.
The first session was in Caracas, Venezuela, from June to August 1974, the second in Geneva, Switzerland, from March to May last year.