Document Type


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Interactions

DOI of Published Version


Total Pages

46 pages


Maritime issues have gained international prominence in recent decades, fueled by the decline in global fishing catches, the scramble for oil and mineral resources, and states’ desire to lay sovereign claims to their maritime spaces. States are willing to use militarized force to defend their maritime claims, as the UK-Iceland "Cod Wars" and militarized confrontations between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea demonstrate. This paper evaluates two primary mechanisms for resolving maritime conflicts: 1) the creation of private ownership of maritime zones in the form of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and 2) the creation of an institution, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to establish standards for maritime claims and the resolution of disputes. We evaluate the effects of UNCLOS and EEZs on the peaceful and militarized management of maritime claims in the Western Hemisphere and Europe (1900-2001) and the long-run effects of privatization and institutionalization on marine fishing stocks (1950-2003). Our analyses suggest that declared EEZs work efficiently for helping states to reach agreements over maritime claims in bilateral negotiations, while membership in UNCLOS prevents the outbreak of new claims and promotes more frequent third party management efforts. We also find a U-shaped relationship between marine catches and the duration of UNCLOS/EEZ commitments, indicating that fish stocks initially decline and then recover positively after the implementation of conservation policies.


Previous versions of this paper were presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 30-September 2, Chicago, IL, the 2007 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, February 28-March 3, Chicago, IL, and the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa. We thank John Conybeare, Stephen Long, Erik Melander, and Bill Reed for useful comments on previous drafts.

Journal Article Version

Author's Original

Published Article/Book Citation

Published as: International Interactions 2014 40(5): 711-736.


Copyright © Sara Mitchell, Stephen C. Nemeth, Elizabeth A. Nyman and Paul R. Hensel