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Inventory of the Papers of the United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea at the University of Virginia

Identifier: MSS-82-6

Scope and Contents

The Collection of official and personal papers documenting the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) at the University of Virginia Law School Library was established in the early 1980's. The first collections of documents acquired were from United States delegates to the United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea III (UNCLOS III) who were also friends of the Law School’s Center for Oceans Law and Policy. In the early spring of 1982, letters were sent to heads and deputy heads of all the delegations to the Conference, and to members of the U. S. Delegation below the top ranks. The letters requested copies of official unclassified delegation reports, statements or proposals, and delegates’ personal records of the Conference. The response from within the United States has been good. Other states’ delegation heads who responded wrote they have turned over our request to their governments, but few documents have come in. Not only are many governments reluctant to release these materials to an American institution, but the planning and logistics for copying and sending them are time consuming and expensive. A list of contributors follows the introduction.

List of Contributors:

Commander John Bennett

Peter Bernhardt

Patricia Birnie

Robert Blumberg

Marjorie Browne

Mrs. G. Winthrop Haight

Michael Hardy

Commander John Henrikson

Robert B. Krueger

Stuart McIntyre

Barbara Moore

John Norton Moore

Ambassador Satya Nandan (Fiji Delegation)

Myron Nordquist

Dolliver Nelson

Julia Reardon

Ambassador Shabtai Rosenne (Israeli Delegation)

Ambassador John R. Stevenson

Louis B. Sohn


  • Creation: 1967-1995



81.6 Linear Feet (204 archival boxes )

Language of Materials



Large collection of official United Nations documents and personal papers related to the United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea at the University of Virginia (1967-1995).


The papers in the Law of the Sea Archives, having come from a number of sources, have been arranged to reflect the evolution of UNCLOS III. Contrary to established archival practice, collections have been rearranged considerably to fit into organizational pattern of the LOS Archives as a whole. The integrity of individual folders has been maintained for the most part, and original folder headings were used if they reflected the contents. Collections of loose records have been labeled in general terms and arranged chronologically.

The collection has three major divisions: 1) Official United Nations negotiating documents, 2) delegations’ official records and working files, and 3) individual delegates’ personal files concerning UNCLOS III or related oceans matters. The official documents were culled from a number of individual collections, or obtained from the United Nations, the United States State Department, or the Library of Congress. As a rule, documents appearing in the UNCLOS III Official Record were not retained because they are voluminous and readily available elsewhere in the Law Library. On the other hand, the relatively small body of negotiating documents issued by the Evensen Group, the seven negotiating groups, and others have been kept in the archives, though they also have been published. Finally, there is an incomplete set of United Nations Press Releases on UNCLOS III. (N. B.: There are also nearly complete sets of documents from both the Seabed Committee and the Drafting Committee (all languages). Separate finding aids for these extensive collections are available in the archives.)

The second large division is the delegations’ documents. The Israeli and Irish delegations have donated copies of their statements and draft proposals made throughout the conference; the Ukranian SSR contributed copies of statements. The U. S. Department of State donated all the unclassified documents from their “conference files.” These records reflect negotiating plans on a session-by-session basis throughout the conference. The State Department kept their topical, and topical and diplomatic, files on UNCLOS III and destroyed the classified documents from the conference files. A number of people who served on the U. S. delegation have contributed their papers, and these personal delegation files follow the State Department’s. There is a great deal of unavoidable duplication in this part of the collection, since all delegates received certain memoranda, reports, directives, etc. However, the individuals’ files are important because they also contain unique and detailed records on the donor’s area of concentration and expertise.

Donors whose papers contained U. S. Delegation files are Stuart McIntyre, John Norton Moore, Commanders John Henrikson and John Bennett, Myron Nordquist, Ambassador John R. Stevenson, G. Winthrop Haight, Julia Reardon, and Robert Krueger. Ambassador Stevenson was the chairman of the U. S. Delegation to the first three sessions of UNCLOS III (1973-1975). John Norton Moore was deputy chairman during Stevenson’s term, but, unlike Stevenson who also maintained his law practice during this period, Moore worked full-time on conference and domestic oceans issues from his post at the State Department. During this same period Stuart McIntyre served as Staff Director of the National Security Council Task Force on LOS, and coordinated the work of this interagency group preparing the U. S. Negotiating position. Concurrently, Myron Nordquist was Office Director for the Task Force and, like McIntyre, was alternative representative on the U. S. Delegation; later (1977-1978), Nordquist was legislative counsel to Ambassador Elliott Richardson, head of the U. S. From 1977 to 1980. Commanders Henrikson and Bennett worked on LOS matters at the Department of Defense, and Julia Riordan was special assistant for congressional and public relations for Ambassador James Malone, head of the U. S. Delegation in 1981-1982. G. Winthrop Height, an expert advisor to the U. S. Delegation, was a lawyer for Shell Oil who observed the negotiations for the mining industry during the entire length of the conference. Finally, Robert B. Krieger, an attorney practicing international law in Los Angeles, was a member, at various stages, of the U. S. Delegation and of the LOS Advisory Committee from 1971 to 1985.

Two small collections concerning other delegations follow these papers. The first were donated by Satya Nandan, ambassador from Fiji to UNCLOS III and Rapporteur for the Second Committee. These documents are primarily working papers regarding LOS issues of special concern to Fiji. The other collection contains a variety of documents donated by Michael hardy of the United Kingdom, whose official position was observer of UNCLOS III for the European Economic Communities.

The third division of documents contains records of donors’ LOS related work exclusive of their official involvement in UNCLOS III. Highlights of this group include handwritten notes that G. Winthrop Height took at every LOS-related meeting he attended from 1967 to 1983, as well as all his correspondence and other documents concerning the ocean mining industry vis-a-vis UNCLOS III for those years. John Norton Moore’s personal files concern LOS-related domestic legislation, and Myron Nordquist’s contain extensive research material concerning the offshore processing of ocean minerals. Robert Krueger’s papers primarily concern deep seabed mining as well.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was transferred to Special Collections in 1982. The papers of Louis B. Sohn were donated in 1999.

Inventory of the Papers of the United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea at the University of Virginia, 1967-1995, MSS 82-6
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Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States