Financial Accountability of Proposed International Seabed Organization

Author/Editor: Frank C. Conahan


Publisher/Sponsor: Foreign Service Institute
Supplier: Department of State
Report Date: 1973
Document Number: –
Classification: Unclassified
Nautilus Filing Number: 748
Box Number: 25


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The right to the sea has long been an ambiguous topic for many coastal nations.  Conahan explains this in his 1973 report, beginning by noting the current disagreement over how much jurisdiction each nation many exert over their coasts.  A key topic is that of the seabed, and the vast mineral and educational resources associated with it.  With the creation of the International Seabed Organization, there could be the necessary oversight for monitoring fair use of the ocean resources.  This then leads to the question of how to finance this organization, which Conahan goes into detail about.  The basic concept of ownership of the sea is a major issue even today.  The East China Sea is disputed by China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Conahan, in 1973, produced a report to propose the development of the International Seabed Organization, which would oversee international waters, and loan equipment, machines, and facilities to different nations.  In the report, he talks about the technical, financial, and organizational difficulties involved in creating this organization.

“Since World War II, efforts have been made to develop and codify the Law of the Sea.  In 1958, the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea considered conventions concerning the territorial sea, the high seas, the continental shelf, and fisheries conservation.  Although it adopted four conventions, this Conference, as well as a session held in 1960, failed to settle a number of outstanding questions regarding the sea and the seabed.” [p.5]


This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).