The overall resilience of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea during the forty years since its adoption in 1982—its durability, its flexibility and its plasticity in the face of myriad challenges that have unfolded over time—is largely attributable to certain design features within the Convention, to a willingness to ‘bend’ the Convention toward practical outcomes when necessary, and to the foresight of the drafters in closely tying the Convention to other agreements and standards, as well as to the general field of international law, so that the Convention might evolve as the world evolves. There are risks in flexibility and plasticity; in measured doses they promote resilience, while if taken too far they can erode confidence and support in the regime. Ultimately, such resilience rests on the good faith of States and other relevant actors in pursuing common ground in regulating a common space.
GW Paper Series
Murphy, Sean D., Durability, Flexibility and Plasticity in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, vol. 39 (forthcoming 2024).