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Robert L. Friedheim; USC Expert on the Oceans and International Relations


Robert L. Friedheim, USC international relations expert who helped develop federal policies on oceanic resources, environment and fishing rights, has died at the age of 66.

Friedheim, former director of the USC School of International Relations, died Jan. 31 at his home in Playa del Rey of lung cancer.

Instrumental in developing the Law of the Sea Treaty for the United Nations, Friedheim cautioned that any "ocean rush" to reap minerals and other undersea riches would be a long time in coming because of the uncertainty of international rights.

The treaty, which the United States declined to sign because it granted common rights for all nations to about 70% of the world's oceans, called for the nationalization of the remaining 30% by creating economic zones within 200 miles of shore.

"There were a lot of expectations of untold riches at the bottom of the sea," Friedheim said in a 1984 article in The Times. "But a resource is only a resource if you can recover it and sell it for a price. No sensible explorer is going to go in without a guaranteed right to exclusivity."

International squabbles over rights to oil and gas deposits and fishing areas near coastlines, he said, illustrated the complexity of the problem.

Born in New York City and educated in political science at Columbia University and the University of Washington, Friedheim served in the Army in military intelligence. He began his career teaching political science at Purdue University.

In 1966, Friedheim turned to international oceanic law when he went to work for the Center for Naval Analysis in Arlington, Va., first as a researcher and then as director of the Law of the Sea Project.

After joining the USC faculty in 1976, Friedheim served from 1980 to 1989 as director of its federally funded Sea Grant Program for interdisciplinary research, focusing on the ocean environment and resources and the laws to protect and utilize them.

He was an advisor to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission from 1986 to 1996.

Friedheim, who chaired USC's School of International Relations from 1992 to 1995 and was associate director of its Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies from 1976 to 1989, wrote or co-wrote nine books. Among them were "Offshore Boundaries and Zones" in 1967, "The Navy and the Common Sea" in 1972, "Managing Ocean Resources" in 1979 and "Japan and the New Ocean Regime" in 1984. His most recent book, "Toward a Sustainable Whaling Regime," is scheduled for publication this spring.

Friedheim is survived by his wife, Robin; two daughters, Amy Friedheim and Jessica Friedheim Faulkner; and one grandchild.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 2 in the Vineyard Room of the USC Davidson Conference Center.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Robert L. Friedheim Scholarship Fund, USC School of International Relations, Von KleinSmid Center #330, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0043. The scholarships assist graduate students studying international negotiations for peace.

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