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The 1945 Truman Proclamation Relating To The Right To Explore And Exploit Resources Of The Sea Bed

1032 words - 4 pages

September 28, 1945 marked the time when the U.S. ventured in the exploitation of sea resources such as oil and gas. President Truman issued a proclamation in favour of the country to explore and exploit these minerals under United States policy (Frazier 2009, p.3). The Truman Proclamation firmly consolidated the distinction between the question of the legal regime governing fisheries resources beyond the territorial sea and the regime governing mineral resources. As far as the legal concept of the continental shelf was concerned, its main characteristics were established as a natural prolongation of the state’s land territory (Currie, Forces & Oosterveld 2007, p.403). The Proclamation established a clear separation between the territorial sea and shelf, in which the coastal state could not extend its sovereignty, but only under its jurisdiction and control. According to Byers (1999, p.91), the Truman Proclamation had been linked to the end of the social and economic needs of World War II where the development of technology in the United States began to generate national interest in exploration and exploitation of off-shore oil fields. This had very significant legal implications, bearing in mind that for hundreds of years, sea resources had not been exploited under any regulation by any state.

Following this proclamation, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation in 1953 in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which addressed the control of resource exploitation at the continental shelf by both the federal and state authorities. By so doing, the government wanted to ensure that natural resources at the coast and in the sea were exploited but in the right and legal manner. This perhaps would lead to environmental conservation and protection of the states’ interests.

The Truman Proclamation in 1945 regarding exploitation of the sea was not challenged during that period, as several nations such as Cuba, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Nicaragua, among others in Latin America, followed the U.S. proclamation and came up with independent legislations, perhaps to shield their interest from any possible negative U.S. resolutions (Knight 1991). The main cause of these legal insulations was to safeguard individual countries from the purported intentions of the U.S. since they were not involved when the United States was proclaiming coastal waters in the name of sovereignty. They undertook the initiative to extend their sovereignty over the continental shelf for national needs (Young 1948, p.850). However, many states have a continental shelf that differs drastically from the nature of that outlined in the United States proclamation such as Latin American countries, namely Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. These countries took a more direct approach to preserving adjacent economic resources by extending their authority 200 miles wide in the territorial sea in 1952 in the Santiago Declaration (Slomanson...

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