The Law of the Sea and the Caribbean

United Nations Environment Programme ; International Ocean Institute (1991)

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea contains the most comprehensive, flexible yet binding system for the peaceful settlement of disputes ever devised by the international community. Any State becoming a Party to the Convention undertakes to accept as binding decisions by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, or arbitral tribunals. States are free to choose the procedure and the forum they prefer, but they must choose one; and, with the exception of very few types of litigation enumerated by the Convention, they are bound by the decision. And even in exceptional cases, procedures are prescribed (mandatory conciliation") which will put moral pressure on States to comply with the rules of international law and respect community interests along with sell-interest. The Convention thus clearly puts right over might and protects the weak against the powerful. This, obviously, is important particularly for the developing countries, including those of the Caribbean. With the Cartagena Convention, the Caribbean States have fully embraced this system and adapted it to regional needs. In many cases it may be less costly and psychologically preferable to settle disputes at the regional level, where judges may be more directly familiar with the circumstances of a litigation and more directly known to the parties. National, regional, and global judiciary systems will interact. The part will strengthen the whole, and the whole will strengthen the parts.

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