In Geneva, after almost two months, the seventh session of the United Nations Third "Law of the Sea" conference will end on Thursday (19 May).
In Geneva, after almost two months, the seventh session of the United Nations Third "Law of the Sea" conference will end on Thursday (19 May). For almost 20 years, tough bargaining has taken place in the Swiss city to settle questions of rights and ownership in the world's oceans-about 70 percent of the earth's surface. The main debate of this particular session has been on the just distribution of man's heritage among the peoples of the world.
SYNOPSIS: The recently launched German research ship "Sonne". With the aid of modern technology, it searches for manganese ore, vital for the production of high quality steel. Manganese ore is just one of the treasures at the sea's bottom and it has been estimated there is 4,000 times more of the mineral under water than on dry land.
At the Palace of Nations in Geneva, the U.N. Law of the Sea conference has been debating whether the ocean's resources like manganese ore, should be mined and if so, who should benefit. It was the question of a just distribution of man's heritage that became the main theme of the conference.
150 delegates have been debating this problem behind closed doors and reports say the talks have often been tough and controversial.
Several developing countries have insisted on the creation of a central oceanic mining administration similar to the raw materials programme with its communal ??? for the earth's raw materials.
The mining administration would have control of the oceans' treasures. But most of the industrialised countries have opposed the idea. They say a central oceanic mining administration would favour individual nations and would not provide more justice. Furthermore, very few countries are technologically advanced enough to be able to get at these valuable resources. Germany is one that can, and has just found manganese ore nuggets near Hawaii at a depth of 5,000 metres.
Conference President, Mrs Shirley Amerasinghe, from Sri Lanka, feels another conference is necessary to bring the differing view points closer together. Reports say a so-called dual system could work, with deep-sea raw material fields being mined equally by a central administration on one hand. and by a private concern on the other. The compromise would prevent industrial nations from feeling that they must pass national laws on sea mining.
Time is a major factor. Developing nations and other countries, not rich in raw materials, see a tremendous future in the development of oceanic mining for raw materials. Each country nationally wants its share, and one view is the sea's heritage should not be hindered by politics.