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The following letter was sent to Sen. John F. Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee A similar letter was sent to Sen. Richard Lugar, Ranking Minority member of the Committee.
October 16, 2009
The Honorable John F. Kerry, Chairman
Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Recognizing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's intention to consider
the Convention on the Law of the Sea, I offer my strong support for U.S. accession to
As you are aware, the convention protects and advances the national security,
economic, and environmental interests of the United States. In particular, the
convention codifies navigational rights and freedoms critical to U.S. military and
commercial vessels and secures U.S. economic rights to natural resources off-shore.
In addition, as a party, the United States would have access to procedures that would
maximize international recognition and legal certainty for U.S. sovereign rights over
offshore resources (including minerals) beyond 200 miles of our coastline.
The United States, as a major maritime power, the country with the largest
exclusive economic zone, and one of the largest continental shelves, stands to gain
more from this treaty in terms of economic and resource rights than any other
country. Having a seat at the table as a party would allow the United States to
participate more effectively in the interpretation and development of the convention
and the ability to participate formally in its institutions.
As the committee proceeds toward hearings on the convention, the Department
of State stands ready to facilitate the Senate's consideration of this treaty by
providing witnesses, testimony, and overall support.
I appreciate your leadership in our efforts to gain the necessary support for
advice and consent to accession of this vitally important treaty.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
The following letter endorsing U.S. accession to the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea was sent to Gen. James Jones, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs by former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Tim Wirth, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Frank Loy.
Appearing in the Wednesday, June 24th, editions of the Washington Post
Click on the image to view the source article at the Pew Trusts website.
The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ratify UNCLOS
Don Kraus and Robert A. Enholm
Some challenges are global in dimension and cannot be resolved by any single country, no matter how powerful - not even the United States. The use, protection, maintenance and sharing of the oceans and their resources present such a global problem. Doug Bandow argues that the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is futile or worse ("Paper promises vs. real costs," April 22).
In fact, UNCLOS has been developed over many years, with input from many countries, drawing on practical experience from across the globe. The treaty involves 157 countries. Some provisions of the treaty that gave the U.S. pause in the 1980s have been rewritten.
The current version of UNCLOS enjoys the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and such surprising allies as the American Petroleum Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. The Senate should ratify UNCLOS in the current session of Congress.
Asserting that we do not need the Law of the Sea because the United States has a large Navy and can protect its interests is like saying that we do not need traffic rules because we drive a really, really large automobile.
Chief Executive Officer
ROBERT A. ENHOLM,
Executive Vice President
Citizens for Global Solutions
SPEAK OUT: In defense of UN’s Law of the Sea
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:38 AM
I was disturbed to read this week the column written by Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation opposing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which he derogatorily described as “LOST.”
I would like to make a few corrections. First, the U.S has signed the LOS Convention, but has not ratified it. Second, the last five Republican and four Democratic presidents have all sought a comprehensive treaty on the Law of the Sea. Third, since the convention was amended, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and now Obama have sought its ratification.
President Reagan said “Our review has concluded that while most provisions of the draft convention are acceptable and consistent with U.S. interests, some major elements of the deep sea mining regime are not acceptable.” He spelled out those six unacceptable elements and they were fixed in the above mentioned amendment.
The military is, and has been, supportive of the convention and our ratification of it.
The successful operation of the “Bainbridge” against the Somali pirates was in line with the convention and UN Resolutions 1816 and 1838. The Chinese backed off of harassing the U.S. scientific work off of China because it was exactly the type of freedom of navigation ensured by the convention. Contrary to Mr. Feulner’s statement, submarines can operate under water on the high seas and in international straits under the convention. This and the operation of carrier groups in international straits are some of the reasons why the U.S. Navy has always supported the convention.
The convention codifies freedom of the seas, extends our sovereign territorial waters to 12 miles and our fishing waters to 200 miles. The U.S. is the largest beneficiary of the convention, but the drafters deferred determining the end of a country’s deep continental shelf to a commission of countries party to the convention. Until we ratify the convention we cannot be on this commission, which is in the process of determining the extent of Russia’s arctic shelf. This is one of the reasons why our last three presidents have sought ratification, having also concluded, as did President Reagan, that the other provisions were in our national interest.
Charles Higginson lives in Cohasset. He is a retired foreign service officer and executive director of the Council on Ocean Law.
Lifelong Republicans Make The Switch
By WILLIAM D. RUCKELSHAUS and RUSSELL E. TRAIN
The Tampa Tribune
Published: November 1, 2008
As former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, we have served three presidents as their principal advisers responsible for the implementation and enforcement of our nation's environmental laws. We are lifelong Republicans. Yet after much thoughtful deliberation we have decided to support Barack Obama in his bid for the White House.
It has never been more clear that we occupy a global commons. And the need has never been greater for U.S. leadership to address complex and potentially catastrophic issues such as climate change, energy security, and the degradation of our ocean and coastal waters. Senator Obama has compellingly stated his intent to re-engage the community of nations in support of policies that will begin the arduous task of realizing a clean and secure future for the planet.
We cannot lead other nations with credibility, however, unless we put our own house in order and lead by example. This is difficult to do when the United States has only 5 percent of the world's population, but consumes nearly 25 percent of its energy resources. The balanced approach put forward by the Obama campaign recognizes the central role of energy conservation by requiring increased fuel economy, energy efficiency standards, and green building design which can drastically reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain and operate our buildings and manufacturing facilities. This, coupled with an emphasis on renewable sources of energy and sensible, comprehensive policies to promote increased domestic production of oil and natural gas, offers the best hope of reestablishing U.S. leadership in these areas.
Oil and gas on the U.S. outer Continental Shelf are resources that have enormous benefit for the nation. But as the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy underscored, this resource must be approached as part of a comprehensive management plan that considers fishing, marine transport, recreation and tourism, and wind power as well as uses we haven't even thought about yet. The challenge for the new administration will be to minimize conflicts among users, safeguard human and marine health, and fulfill the federal government's obligation to manage public resources, including oil, for the maximum long term benefit of the entire nation. The plan being put forward by the Obama campaign is, in our view, best equipped to accomplish this goal.
Sen. Obama has clearly stated that he would actively promote early U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea. This treaty is essential to protect national security interests, secure sovereign rights over extensive marine areas and promote U.S. interests in the health of the oceans. While as a senator John McCain has supported U.S. ratification of this critically important treaty, as a candidate he has indicated he is reconsidering his support.
By virtue of having the largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, the United States must be a strong leader in international ocean dialogue to ensure protection of our national economic and security interests as well as our valuable marine resources. There are enormous benefits to U.S. participation in the Law of the Sea, most importantly a seat at the table and a leadership role in international negotiations. However, as virtually the sole industrialized nation not party to the treaty - to which 155 nations and the European Union belong - the United States remains sidelined.
As a senator, John McCain has demonstrated courage and vision on important environmental issues, most notably in his leadership in addressing climate change, a balanced approach to energy policy, and in support for the Law of the Sea. However in his quest for the White House he has often modified his policies to appeal to the Republican base. While this may be fortunate for his candidacy, it is unfortunate for the American people.
What is at stake in this election goes far beyond wise use of our oceans, safeguarding our climate, and even U.S. security. What is at stake is the future. America has often been the symbol to the world of how a free democratic society can solve its problems and project leadership through example.
If America can demonstrate, through active participation in climate change negotiations and the Law of the Sea how to responsibly and sustainably manage critical global resources for the new millennium, then we can help achieve a world which provides economic opportunity for all, including our own citizens. That is what is at stake in this election, and that is why we are endorsing Senator Obama as our best hope of achieving that goal.
William D. Ruckelshaus served as the first and fifth administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, was acting director of the FBI, and served on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Russell E. Train served as first chairman of the Council for Environmental Quality under President Nixon and the second EPA Administrator under President Ford.
March 13, 2008
||Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader|
Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader
||Senators Lugar, Stevens and Murkowski|
||Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. (original copy signed by Rev. Hesburgh)
Dear Senator Reid and Senator McConnell,
I am writing concerning the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention was voted on favorably by the foreign Relations Committee and needs to be brought to the full Senate for a vote.
I have followed the Law of the Sea negotiations since the late 1970s and I support US ratification of the Convention. Timing is critical and recent events clearly illuminate the importance of the Law of the Sea Convention to our nation.
Last summer Russian politicians and scientists used submersibles to plant their flag at the North Pole. This event was carried out to enhance the Russian claim for an extended continental shelf in the Arctic. Flag planting does not constitute a claim. However the event does confirm the strategic value of obtaining the undisputed rights of the Arctic seafloor. The other circum-Arctic nations: Canada, Denmark (for Greenland)and Norway have ratified the convention and have or are preparing to submit their claims for extended continental shelves on other sections of the Arctic seafloor. Because we have not ratified the Convention, our nation is completely out of the game as these claims are evaluated. In addition our nation has no feasible avenue to introduce our own claim to the Arctic seafloor, where our national jurisdiction could extend 600 miles north of the Alaskan coast. The Arctic is not the only location off the US coast where we could claim an extended continental shelf.
Other nations among them: Australia, Brazil, France, Mexico and New Zealand have submitted extensive seafloor claims. Again, because we have not ratified the Convention we are excluded from commenting on their claims or participating in the evaluation process.
It is time for this situation to change and for the Senate to vote and ratify the Convention.
The Convention is the constitution for the seas. The continental shelf claims are currently in the limelight, but the other aspects of the Convention, national security, environmental protection and dispute settlement are no less important.
In closing, I recognize that the Convention is not perfect, no document negotiated over 75 weeks by 130 plus nations could be. Nevertheless, more than 154 nations have ratified the Convention. These nations are at work implementing the Convention and our nation needs to join them, not only for our own purposes by to insure legitimate governance of the world's resources.
ABA President William H. Neukom urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month to pass an advise and consent resolution for the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides a legal framework governing the uses of the oceans and their resources.
More than 150 nations are party to the treaty, which was negotiated in the 1970s and early 1980s and signed in 1994 by the United States only after major revisions were made in the deep seabed mining provisions. That same year, the treaty went into force and President Clinton submitted it to the Senate.
"The convention was carefully drafted to preserve freedom of navigation, not only on the high seas but through all international straits and waterways, and to protect economic interests relating to off-shore resources, notably oil and fisheries," Neukom wrote in a statement submitted for a Sept. 27 hearing. Pointing out that the United States was very involved in the drafting of the treaty, he said this country "must become a party to the convention and resume our leadership role in order to protect our future interests."
Under the 1994 amendments to the convention, the United States, when it becomes a party to the treaty, will be a permanent member of the Governing Council of the International Seabed Authority and of the Finance Committee, which operate by consensus.
"Our failure to become a party to the convention and take advantage of these changes negotiated in the agreement will become more problematic in the future when and if mining of the deep seabed becomes commercially feasible," Neukom cautioned. In addition, he said that the United States currently cannot participate in critical discussions now being held and decisions being made that impact U.S. interests in the Arctic and other areas around the world.
Neukom emphasized that none of the dire consequences that had been predicted by opponents of the convention has come to pass, including inhibiting anti-terrorist activities on the high seas, imposing any taxes, or creating any international forces. In addition, he said that the alarmist objections regarding the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea created under the convention are "patently untrue," and the convention "does not and will not award any control over U.S. military activities to any international court or international bureaucracy."
John D. Negroponte, deputy secretary for the State Department, expressed the Bush administration's strong support for the treaty, testifying at the hearing that "U.S. accession to the convention is the best way to secure navigational and economic rights related to the law of the sea."
Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, focused on the national security interests of the United States, emphasizing that the navigation and overflight rights and high-seas freedoms codified in the convention are essential for the global mobility of the armed forces and the sustainment of combat forces overseas.
Additional hearings scheduled for early October focused on the views of non-governmental organizations
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff sent a letter of support for Senate approval of the Law of the Sea Convention to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and Chair and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
A copy of the letter sent to Senator Biden can be viewed by clicking <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/HomeSec_Letter-27Sep07.pdf" target=_blank>here.
Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne sent a joint letter of support for Senate approval of the Law of the Sea Convention to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Co-Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Citing the nations history as a seafaring nation and one of the earliest international treaties that established rights at sea with Morocco during the Jefferson administration, the Secretaries recounted their departmental responsibilities and national interests and concluded with their belief that it is imperative that the US join the LOS Convention.
The Secretaries of State for President George H. W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan spoke out today in favor of US ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention.
The Convention of the Law of the Sea is back. It will be the subject of Senate hearings this week. If the U.S. finally becomes party to this treaty, it will be a boon for our national security and our economic interests. U.S. accession will codify our maritime rights and give us new tools to advance national interests.
After a detailed review of the benefits of joining the Convention and the costs of staying outside, the former Secretaries of State concluded:
Given President Bush's public statement of support for the convention, the support of prior presidents and their administrations and the strong, bipartisan and diverse support it has from all major U.S. ocean industries, the environmental community and national security experts, it is clearly time for the Senate to act by supporting accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
September 24, 2007
|The Honorable Harry Reid || || ||The Honorable Mitch McConnell
|Majority Leader|| || ||Minority Leader
|United States Senate || || ||United States Senate
|Washington, DC 20510|| || ||Washington, DC 20510
THE SENATE SHOULD APPROVE
U.S. ACCESSION TO THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION
Dear Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:
We, the undersigned, urge the Senate to expeditiously provide its advice and consent for United States accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We agree with President Bush’s statement of May 15, 2007, in which he asserted that accession to the Convention is essential to protect national security interests, secure sovereign rights over extensive marine areas, and promote U.S. interests in the environmental health of the oceans. We strongly urge the Senate to approve the Convention before the adjournment of this session of Congress.
The Convention has been thoroughly reviewed in numerous Senate hearings and public forums. It has overwhelming bipartisan support from a broad and diverse range of interests that have carefully considered the issues from a variety of perspectives. It is clear that accession will protect and enhance our country’s sovereign military, economic, and environmental interests.
The Convention codifies and strengthens freedoms of navigation and overflight that are essential to U.S. military mobility. The Navy and Coast Guard have testified that joining the Convention will strengthen our ability to defend these and other important maritime rights and will enhance our national and homeland security efforts. Recent statements of support for accession from National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England reinforce the important national security benefits that will accompany accession.
All major U.S. ocean industries, including offshore energy, maritime transportation and commerce, fishing, and shipbuilding, support U.S. accession to the Convention because its provisions help protect vital U.S. economic interests and provide the certainty and stability crucial for investment in global maritime enterprises.
Environmental organizations also strongly support the Convention. As a party, the United States would be in the best position to lead future applications of this framework for regional and international cooperation in protecting and preserving the marine environment.
The Congressionally-mandated and Presidentially-appointed U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the independent Pew Oceans Commission both unanimously recommend accession to the Convention as an important part of a comprehensive and coordinated U.S. ocean policy.
Currently, 155 nations are party to the Law of the Sea Convention. Yet, despite an exceptional level of diverse bipartisan support, the United States remains the primary industrialized nation not a party to the Convention. U.S. accession to the Convention would send a clear message in support of our efforts to foster international approaches, while significantly furthering our own national interests.
The Senate should move expeditiously to consider and approve U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
cc: President George W. Bush
Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Secretary Robert M. Gates
Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Senator Richard G. Lugar
Signed by: (Click "Read Full Article" to view complete list of signers)
On April 7, 2004, the eight living former Legal Advisors of the Department of State, including David Robinson and Abraham Sofer who were the Advisors during the Reagan Administration, wrote to Senator Lugar with their endorsement of the LOS Convention.
The Letter addressed four concerns that has been raised with regard to the Convention and provided their collective legal assessment of those issues, as well as their endorsement of US accession to the Convention:
First, the Reagan Administration's objection to the LOS Convention, as expressed in 1982 and 1983, was limited to the deep seabed mining regime. The 1994 Implementing Agreement that revised this regime, in our opinion, resolved that objection and has binding legal effect in its modifications of the LOS Convention.
Second, President Reagan, while rejecting the deep seabed mining regime as then conceived, pronounced it United States policy in 1983 to abide by the LOS Convention provisions dealing with traditional uses of the oceans. All Administrations since then have, without exception, continued this policy. In order to gain unquestioned international acceptance of this United States policy, it is time, in our view, for the United States to take its place, and to assert its influence and leadership, under a Convention to which there are now 145 States Parties, including all other major industrial and maritime nations.
Third, the LOS Convention does not award any decision-making authority on any issue to the United Nations. The fact that the term "United Nations" appears in the title of the LOS Convention is legally meaningless and is an accident of history. The LOS Convention is a multilateral convention that governs the legal relations among the States Parties. It creates three bodies, the International Seabed Authority, the Law of the Sea Tribunal and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. All three are funded and organized by the States Parties to the LOS Convention and not by the United Nations. Any monies that ultimately flow to the International Seabed Authority are under the control of the States Parties, not of the United Nations. Because the Finance Committee of the International Seabed Authority, under the terms of the amended LOS Convention, operates by consensus, the United States, once a State Party, will participate in all financial and administrative decisions, which the Authority cannot take over an objection from the United States, In addition, the United States will have a permanent seat on the governing Council of the International Seabed Authority, where consensus is required for the approval of all regulations, including those dealing with financial matters.
Fourth, the United States will not submit to the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea or the International Court of Justice in the settlement of any non-deep seabed mining disputes arising under the LOS Convention. In addition, the United States will opt out of all mandatory dispute settlement provisions with respect to military (which includes intelligence) activities and certain law enforcement and international boundary matters. Furthermore, the United States will make it clear in an understanding attached to its accession that it will be the sole judge as to what constitutes "military activities." Thus, in no way will the LOS Convention award any control over United States military activities to any international bureaucracy or court.
You may read or download the PDF file of the Legal Advisor's letter by <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/LALetter.pdf" target=_blank>clicking here.
After discussing the issues of importance to the US Coast Guard and to US security, four former Commandants of the Coast Guard wrote:
For all these reasons, it is high time the United States got off the sidelines and joined the Law of the Sea COnvention. Joining would not only increase the ability of the COast Guard to carry out its multiple maritime missions. but would also enhance the ability of the United States to guarantee its national security and economic rights, to challenge excessive maritime claims of other countries, and to maximize its influence in the application of the Convention to real-world situations.
Each of us has had opportunities to engage colleagues from around the world on these issues over the years. To our understanding, all issues that have prevented ratification have been satisfactorily resolved. We each and together solicit committee and full Senate approval during this Congressional session.
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Times
June 22, 2007
David Ridenour's letter, "Treaty inaccuracies" (Monday), failed to take into account that U.S. fishermen are among the most regulated in the world. Responsible commercial harvesters understand the need for sustainably managed fisheries. The U.S. government has pushed for sustainable fisheries at United Nations meetings, in negotiations for multilateral and bilateral treaties and in development of voluntary plans of action and codes of conduct, all consistent with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
When it is time to encourage our fishing partners in the international community to join us in implementing these treaties and plans for sustainable fisheries, industry groups and governments alike from countries that are our treaty partners question our motives, since we have not joined the treaty that is the foundation upon which all those treaties and plans are based. This denies our fishermen the benefits of a level playing field. We follow the rules and we lack a most convincing element of the argument for why others should follow them as well.
By giving its advice and consent to ratification of the 1982 Convention, the Senate could solve this problem, leading to fairness for our fishers and giving our negotiators a most powerful argument for why our treaty partners should follow the rules.
National Fisheries Institute
The Maritime Law Association, in which resides perhaps the greatest concentration of expertise in the practice of law of the sea for navigation, safety and control of pollution. The entire letter is well worth reading, but I would like to highlight this paragraph in particular:
Uniformity of the law of the sea is essential to the recognition of the rights of states, their ships, and their citizens, and crucial to economic prosperity. Accession to the Law of the Sea Convention will further establish that the world's territorial seas and high seas are not lawless, but are instead subject, respectively, to carefully crafted bodies of domestic laws and to a regime of international laws that ensure right of law-abiding individuals and nations to enjoy the many benefits of the world's waters. The Courts of the United States, as well as courts of foreign states and the tribunal created under the Law of the Sea Convention, will benefit greatly from the accession of the United States to this Convention as an emblem of world accord on the principles that govern the peaceful use of the high seas.
Click on "Read full article" for the complete PDF file of the letter.
The Joint Chiefs of State has sent Senator Biden a letter in support of US accession to the LOS Convention that is signed by the Chairman, Vice Chairman and all four Service Chiefs.
To view the entire letter, including the signatures click on "Read full article" below the first page displayed below A link to a downloadable copy of the letter follows the signature page.
Below is the text of a letter sent to Senator Richard Lugar from former Secretary of State George P. Shultz endorsing the LOS Convention and stating the with the changes obtain in 1994 that President Reagan would also support ratification.
June 28, 2007
Dear Senator Lugar,
I understand that the Law of the Sea Treaty is once again likely to be considered by the Senate for consent to ratification. I am writing to let you know that I support ratification.
I have had a long history with this treaty. When I was Secretary of the Treasury in 1973, we got wind of this negotiation and discovered the language on control of mining in the deep sea-beds. We blew every whistle we could find to call attention to the undesirable features of what was being negotiated. Nevertheless, negotiations continued.
The question of ratification arose once again during the Reagan Administration. President Reagan, fully aware of the many desirable aspects of the treaty, nevertheless opposed ratification, fundamentally on the same grounds that led us to blow the whistle in the early 1970s.
The treaty has been changed in such a way with respect to the deep sea-beds that it is now acceptable, in my judgement. Under these circumstances, and given the many desirable aspects of the treaty on other grounds, I believe it is time to proceed with ratification.
It surprises me to learn that opponents of the treaty are invoking President Reagan's name, arguing that he would have opposed ratification despite having succeeded on the deep sea-bed issue. During his administration, with full clearance and support from President Reagan, we made it very clear that we would support ratification if our position on the sea-bed issue were accepted.
With my respect and adminstration for the sustained high quality of your public service.
George P. Shultz
(This announcement was issued in 2004 but given its direct relevance to the Senate consideration of the LOS Convention in 2007, it is republished below)
On May 4th, 2004, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church adopted its resolution in support of US accession to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by a vote of 877 to 19. The resolution had earlier been recommended by a vote of 86-0 by the Committee on Church and Society.
The General Conference meets every four years and is the highest policymaking body of the Church. Re-adoption of this resolution continues the long-time support of the United Methodist Church for multilateral approaches to global issues in general and to Law of the Sea in particular.
Click below on "Read Full Article..." to view the Resolution
For Immediate Release
May 15th, 2007
STEVENS JOINS PRESIDENT IN URGING SENATE TO RATIFY LAW OF THE SEA TREATY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today joined President George W. Bush in urging the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Commonly known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, this accord would regulate and govern activities that occur on or within the world’s oceans.
“The United States is the world’s largest maritime power, and our country also has one of the longest coastlines in the world,” said Senator Stevens. “As a result, we have an enormous interest in the protection of the oceans and their resources. I am pleased to join President Bush in this effort and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate on this important matter.”
Senator Stevens noted that in 1969, Senator Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.) asked him to monitor the Law of the Sea negotiations taking place around the world. This experience led him to work on the original Magnuson-Stevens Act, which extended coastal-state jurisdiction to 200 miles off shore. Stevens said that he supports the Law of the Sea Treaty because it would provide the United States with important international authorities to resolve jurisdictional matters over control of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
“The Law of the Sea Treaty would allow member nations to lay claim to all bottom resources on their continental shelves beyond 200 miles,” Senator Stevens said. “Two-thirds of our nation’s Outer Continental Shelf is located off Alaska, and if we ratify this accord, the United States could lay claim to a substantial area north and east of the Bering Strait.”
<div align=center>STATEMENT BY ADM. THAD ALLEN, COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD, ON THE CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA
WASHINGTON – Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, issued the following statement today reiterating long-standing Coast Guard support for joining the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Becoming a party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would greatly enhance our global position in maritime affairs. Because of our maritime security and law enforcement missions, the Coast Guard has long been a proponent of achieving a comprehensive and stable regime with respect to traditional uses of the oceans. The convention greatly enhances our ability to protect the American public as well as our efforts to protect and manage fishery resources and to protect the marine environment. From the Coast Guard’s perspective, we can best maintain a public order of the oceans through a universally accepted law of the sea treaty that preserves and promotes critical U.S. national interests.
“The convention strikes the appropriate balance between the interests of countries in controlling activities off their coasts with the interests of all countries in protecting freedom of navigation. The convention provides the framework under which the Coast Guard is able to interdict illicit drug traffickers and illegal immigrants far beyond our own waters. The convention also gives the coastal state the right to protect its marine environment, manage its fisheries and off-shore oil and gas resources within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, and secure sovereign rights over resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
“U.S. military forces, including Coast Guard units, already rely heavily on the freedom of navigation principles codified in the convention. These principles allow the use of the world’s oceans to meet changing national security requirements, including those necessary to fight the global war on terrorism. Becoming a party to the convention will enhance our ability to carry out the many maritime missions of the Coast Guard, refute excessive maritime claims, and participate in interpreting and applying the convention to day-to-day realities.”
Admiral Watkins and Leon Panetta, co-chairs of the Joint Ocean Commissions Initiative, have written to President Bush with an endorsement of his support for Senate approval of the Law of the Sea Convention.
Read the full letter <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/JOCI051707.pdf" target=_blank>here.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 15, 2007
Statement by the President
I am acting to advance U.S. interests in the world’s oceans in two important ways.
First, I urge the Senate to act favorably on U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea during this session of Congress. Joining will serve the national security interests of the United States, including the maritime mobility of our armed forces worldwide. It will secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive marine areas, including the valuable natural resources they contain. Accession will promote U.S. interests in the environmental health of the oceans. And it will give the United States a seat at the table when the rights that are vital to our interests are debated and interpreted.
Second, I have instructed the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to submit a proposal for international measures that would enhance protection of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the area including the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Last June, I issued a proclamation establishing the Monument, a 1,200-mile stretch of coral islands, seamounts, banks, and shoals that are home to some 7,000 marine species. The United States will propose that the IMO designate the entire area as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) –- similar to areas such as the Florida Keys, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Galapagos Archipelago –- which will alert mariners to exercise caution in the ecologically important, sensitive, and hazardous area they are entering. This proposal, like the Convention on the Law of the Sea, will help protect the maritime environment while preserving the navigational freedoms essential to the security and economy of every nation.
# # #
<div align=center>STATEMENT BY DICK LUGAR ON THE LAW OF THE SEA TREATY
May 15, 2007
<div align=center>An Overdue Step to Greater Security
By Richard G. Lugar
The Senate this year has an opportunity to plug a large hole in our national security structure by approving the Law of the Sea treaty. I have urged President Bush and my colleagues in the Senate to act soon before election year politics or a crowded Senate schedule once again scuttles the chances for this vital international agreement, which has for years been stalled in unnecessary controversy.
The treaty, formally known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, was conceived during the Cold War as a way to protect vital U.S. national security, maritime and environmental interests from encroachment by the Soviet Union and by assertive developing countries. The lengthy and complex negotiations--involving more than 140 nations--were a triumph of American diplomacy.
Our negotiators won guarantees that U.S. warships and merchant vessels can pass freely off any coast, through all the oceans’ strategic chokepoints and even through the sea lanes of foreign archipelagos, like Indonesia and The Philippines. These guarantees, which in most cases include over-flight rights as well, are vital to our national defense. They ensure our Navy ships and submarines can navigate freely, that our cargo vessels and tankers have access to all the world’s sea lanes, and that we can control the vast riches up to 200 miles off our shores, including the huge schools of fish in the ocean and the oil and gas that lie beneath it.
We scored big wins in other areas, too: our oil and fishing industries got important rights and protections, and the treaty’s anti-pollution and natural resource provisions are so thorough that the Law of the Sea has been called “the strongest comprehensive environmental treaty now in existence.”
As the head of the Ocean Conservancy at the time, Roger Rufe, told a 2003 Senate hearing, the treaty requires all parties “to protect and preserve the marine environment, and to conserve marine living species.”
Yet even though the United States obeys the treaty and gets many benefits from it, we’ve been so far shut out of its policy-making bodies and, in a larger sense, we’ve forfeited our unchallenged world leadership in oceans policy. That’s why ratification has the support of the Pentagon and the Navy, as well as President Bush. Both the energy industry and environmentalists are enthusiastic supporters.
However, ideological posturing and flat-out misrepresentations by a handful of amateur admirals have sought to cast a shadow over the treaty by suggesting that we are turning over our sovereignty to the United Nations. Their criticisms simply don’t hold water.
Ratifying the treaty will do nothing to change the status quo with respect to U.S. intelligence and submarine activities in the territorial seas of other countries: we’ll continue to operate under the same rules we’ve relied on for more than 40 years. Nor will we have to submit disputes over traditional uses of the sea to a United Nations tribunal. Under treaty terms we fought for, any such dispute involving the United States will be sent to arbitration before judges that we help pick.
Equally important, our negotiators made sure that under the treaty our military activities at sea have special protection and are not subject to challenge by other countries in court. To be doubly certain, the Bush administration wisely took advantage of the Treaty’s rules for making clarifying declarations and has specified explicitly that we alone define what constitute “military activities” not subject to review.
The most baffling charge is that somehow we’ll be required to give away sensitive military technology. The convention mandates no such thing. This criticism hasn’t been valid since the Reagan administration, when the treaty was first completed. President Reagan refused to sign it because of technology transfer provisions and other problems in the section on deep-seabed mining. Later, a hard-fought renegotiation led to changes that met all of President Reagan’s demands. We don’t have to give away any technology to anybody.
Failure to move now could directly hurt American interests. Russia has, under terms of the treaty, laid claim to stretches of the Arctic Ocean, hoping to lock up potential oil and gas reserves which could become more accessible as climate change shrinks the polar ice cap. Unless the United States ratifies the treaty, Moscow will be able to press its claims without an American at the table.
Moreover, the treaty, in effect since 1994, is now open for amendment. With America on the outside looking in, other countries could try to undo our hard-won gains, and we wouldn’t have a vote. We would also be left out of the decisions further developing regional and global rules on the ocean environment.
But there is a larger issue as well. We’ve been a free rider on this treaty for too long. At a time when the United States is being criticized by friends and foes alike as either a Lone Ranger or worse, an arrogant bully, we can demonstrate that we believe international cooperation, done right, can serve America’s interests. By embracing a treaty that we championed and that improves our national security, we can help counter the prejudices that America is an unreliable partner or a threat to world order.
In 2004, the Treaty stalled on the Senate floor even after the Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve it. This year, the new Senate leadership should work with President Bush to take an overdue step toward stronger national security by ratifying this treaty.