Water rows

a new United Nations ( un ) agency, set up primarily to resolve conflicts of the sea, has taken shape. Inaugurated mid-October in Hamburg by the un secretary general, Boutros Boutros Ghali, the tribunal will administer the un Convention on the Law of the Sea ( unclos ) to solve water disputes. unclos , which has already been approved by more than 100 countries, regulates aspects of ocean management including fisheries, pollution control, seabed mining and pathways to ship travel. It also allows coastal states to proclaim a 322 km economic zone or a continental shelf based on geological formations. The tribunal's success will depend on whether nations are prepared to abide by its decisions.

The international maritime court has already several disputes to deal with. A chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean has been claimed by Japan, which calls it Senkaku on one hand, and China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, who identify it as Diaoyu. China has summoned the Law of the Sea to support its possession to the Paracel islands in the South China Sea which also has Vietnam and Taiwan laying claim to it.