1994 agreement did not amend UNCLOS and its terms are not binding on parties to UNCLOS
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Presumably, it is for these reasons that the 1994 Agreement does not explicitly amend LOST. Rather, the Agreement states that “The provisions of this Agreement and Part XI [of LOST] shall be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.”
At the time the Agreement was signed, a representative of the American ocean mining industry cited this shortcoming in testimony before Congress: “[The 1994 Agreement] does not even purport to amend the Convention. It establishes controlling ‘interpretive provisions’ that will control in the event of a dispute. This is not an approach that gives confidence to prospective investors in ocean mining.” (Emphasis added.)
Neither does the 1994 Agreement require any of the LOST tribunals to abide by the Agreement. This increases the likelihood that such panels, when hearing disputes between parties, will view LOST itself as the basis for resolving the dispute, and not the 1994 Agreement.
That is especially so since roughly sixteen percent of the parties to LOST – fully 25 member countries – have yet to sign the 1994 Agreement. It is far from clear on what basis these countries could be expected to view the Agreement’s purported revisions to the Treaty as legitimate. How, for instance, would resolutions be achieved in disputes between countries that are party to both LOST and the Agreement, on the one hand, and countries that are party only to LOST, on the other? At the very least, the latter could legitimately challenge claims by the United States (or others) to be bound by terms other than those contained in the Law of the Sea Treaty’s agreed text.