UNCTAD Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences: Trade Milestone or Millstone–Time Will Soon Tell, The Perspectives

Kanuk, Leslie | January 1, 1984

A careful examination of the Code itself reveals it to be a poorly drafted, internally contradictory and ambiguous document-open to va- rying interpretations of form and substance-which implicitly requires an elaborately complex regulatory mechanism to assure that its cargo- sharing provisions are adhered to by Codist signatories. The Code may also prove to be the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. It purports, as its title implies, to be a code of conduct for liner conferences. How- ever, various informed interpretations of the Code, and premature unilat- eral efforts by some nations to implement the Code, indicate that non-conference carriers might very well be barred from Codist trades, thus effectively closing the trades as well as the conferences. The developing countries have also begun lobbying for a code of conduct for bulk trades7 and are seeking the elimination of flags of convenience.’ Should they accomplish these objectives as well, they may very well end up control- ling world trade, and ultimately destroying it. In my view, the United States has wisely refrained from ratifying the UNCTAD Code. I concede that it might have been useful for the State Department to participate in the final negotiations which produced the Code, if such participation would have enabled the United States to influ- ence its outcome.