The United Methodist Church was involved in the Law of the Sea negotiations from their beginning through the adoption of the Convention in 182. A delegation composed of parish members from across the country would meet with the US delegation at the Conference as well as with the conference secretariat and members of other delegations. As a result, members of the United Methodist Church were more knowledgeable about the Convention and the negotiating process than were many other stakeholders.
The interest of the United Methodist Church continued after the completion of negotiations and the adoption of the Convention in 1982. Support for US accession to the Convention has been renewed at every session of the quadrennial General Conference of the church since 1996, with the most recent renewal in 2012.
Law of the Sea
We recognize that “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it” (¶ 160).
We are called to repent of our devastation of the physical and nonhuman world, because this world is God’s creation and is therefore to be valued and conserved.
Nowhere is this need greater than in relation to the sea. In 1970 the United Nations agreed that those areas of the seabed beyond national boundaries were the “common heritage” of humankind. This means that the resources belong to everyone.
The best hope for global cooperation is through the United Nations, where representatives of the nations of the world developed the Law of the Sea.
The Law of the Sea conference worked to produce a fair and just law for the ocean, in which all nations will benefit. No one nation will have all of its interests satisfied, but mechanisms will be set up to maintain order and peace, and both developed and developing countries will have worked on the regulations.
The Law of the Sea Treaty is concerned with protecting this “common heritage” of humanity. It would:
- guarantee unimpeded access to over 100 straits, facilitating commercial transportation;
- prevent conflicts over fishing waters;
- enforce environmental regulations forbidding countries to dump harmful wastes that spoil the ocean waters;
- share equitably the ocean resources, oil, fish, minerals, and prohibit unjust exploitation of these resources by the powerful;
- regulate access to the waters of coastal countries to permit research of the marine environment;
- limit the continuing extension of national sovereignty over international waters and settle legal disputes arising therefrom;
- prevent the division of the world into competing camps depending on powerful navies; and
- create an international agency to manage cooperatively the international seabed resources.
We also affirm our support for the evolution of effective “commons” law, such as the treaties for the Antarctic, climate, biodiversity, and outer space, which support our obligations of stewardship, justice, and peace.
Further, we urge all United Methodists to become informed about the Law of the Sea and to call upon their governments to commit themselves to just and equitable implementation of the Law of the Sea and to the ratification of the treaty.
AMENDED and READOPTED 1996
READOPTED 2004 AND 2008
RESOLUTION #1028, 2008 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #12, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #12, 2000 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 160A.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2012. Copyright © 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.