Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The focus of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) was on the development of an international legal regime for the peaceful use of the world's oceans. The maritime powers, particularly the United States, viewed this new regime in terms of preserving traditional high seas freedom of navigation and overflight, and limiting expanding coastal state claims over their adjacent water and airspace. Developing countries, emerging from a period of decolonization, sought to enhance their security and gain economic benefit from this new legal regime, through the seaward extension of claims to jurisdiction over what had traditionally been high seas. The emergence of a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from UNCLOS III represents a mixed blessing for the United States in terms of gains in sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the natural resources of a large portion of coastal "real estate, " versus the potential loss of traditional high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight in the EEZ's of other coastal states. the sui generis nature of the EEZ represents a compromise between the maritime powers and development countries over the legal status of the zone, but is clearly not a final solution to a continuing debate. The impact on U.S. military interests of the legal regime for the EEZ will depend on individual interpretations of the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty and evolving coastal state practice. Accordingly, such interpretation and practice deserve to be carefully followed.