361. Telegram From the Department of State to the Delegation to the Conference on the Law of the Sea1

1138. Law of Sea. Your 1112, 1118, 1120, 1123.2 As result conference Navy you are authorized work for compromise suggested your [Page 687] 1120 and 1123 subject to following comments. Any extension territorial sea particularly serious in light committee action on Article 24 especially in view defeat UK amendment re innocent passage warships through international straits without authorization. International Court in Corfu Channel case recognized such right of innocent passage without authorization in time of peace. If this point can be reopened you should make every effort preserve right of warships to navigate international straits without authorization. Suggest best chance of success might be by tying to ICJ decision. Also highly desirable assure aircraft passage through international straits without authorization. Possibly these rights could be recognized by resolution advanced in committee or plenary. However would not want to make record worse by having such resolution advanced and defeated.

Assume you would assess carefully chance of success of your compromise suggestion before formally introducing it as once we go on record favor extension territorial sea we would not want to be jockeyed into further concessions than you suggest. In advancing compromise we should make clear to others we intend to maintain three-mile position should conference not accept it. FYI We would prefer conference break up without agreement rather than adopting anything more drastic.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 399.731/4–1358. Confidential; Niact. Drafted and approved by Raymond who signed for Dulles and cleared in draft with Ward, Looney, and Pender.
  2. Telegram 1120 is supra. Telegram 1112, April 12, transmitted a report on the work of all five committees on April 11. (Department of State, Central Files, 399.731/4–1258) Telegram 1118, April 12, transmitted a preliminary appraisal along the lines of that in telegram 1120. (Ibid.) Telegram 1123, April 13, transmitted a “tentative” draft of Article 3 encompassing two 6-mile zones and provision for historic rights. (Ibid., 399.731/4–1358)