An Historical Overview of the Development of Uniformity in International Maritime Law

In recent years there have been many efforts at obtaining uniformity of laws in various jurisdictions: the various restatements of law, international conventions, and, where all else fails, bilateral treaties on specific aspects of law such as recognition of judgments. It has long been this writer's theory that such attempts at uniformity became necessary because the rise of nationalism over the centuries destroyed the uniformity of maritime law, which had been established by commercial traders from time immemorial. This paper presents the historical thesis that uniform maritime law: 1. existed in ancient times;

2. developed and grew with the spread of maritime commerce;

3. declined with the growth of nationalism;

4. was revived in the nineteenth century at the instigation of lawyers and commercial men such as those who founded the Comité Maritime International and the national maritime law associations;

5. continues to grow under the aegis of the Intergovernmental Maritime Organization (IMO) and other United Nations affiliated organizations with the cooperation of experts in the private sector.