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In confirmation hearings at the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nomination to become Commander of Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear was asked by Chairman Levin whether he supports US accession to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Here is the dialog:
Thank you, Admiral.
Can you tell us whether you support the United States joining the United Nations Treaty on the Law of the Sea?
Mr. Chairman, I do support the United States joining the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea.
And why is that?
It has been my observation as a -- as a naval officer for many years that as this subject has been debated that having this tool or be a member of this important -- important United Nations initiative will provide us a better framework globally for us -- as there are competing interests globally, particularly as economic zones are discussed, as we start looking at resources that are on the seabed.
It allows us a better mechanism to be able to have a legal discussion that prevents us from having miscalculated events. It overall provides us a better framework for better future security.
From Adm. Locklear's responses to written questions:
Do you support U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea? If so, why?
I support U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention. It is in the enduring interests of the United States to be at the forefront of promoting the rule of law, including in the worldâ€™s oceans. U.S. accession to the Convention would send an additional, clear signal to the world that we remain committed to advancing the rule of law at sea. Additionally, under the Convention, the United States would have the firmest possible legal foundation for the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea needed to project power, reassure allies
and partners, deter adversaries, respond to crises, sustain deployed combat forces, and secure sea and air lines of communication that underpin international trade and our own economic prosperity.
Would U.S. accession to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention benefit the
U.S. militaryâ€™s mission in the Asia-Pacific region? If so, how?
U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention would benefit the U.S. militaryâ€™s mission in the Asia-Pacific region by enabling the United States to reinforce and assert the Convention's rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea, including the right of innocent passage of U.S. warships through the territorial seas of other nations, the right of transit passage of U.S. warships and aircraft in strategic straits, and the freedom of U.S. forces to conduct a wide range of military activities beyond the territorial seas of any coastal state. In addition, becoming a Party to the Convention would support combined operations with regional partners and demonstrate our commitment to conduct Proliferation Security Initiative activities consistent with international law; establish undisputed title to our extended continental shelf areas; strengthen our position in bilateral discussions with the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China; and bolster our leadership in future developments in the law of the sea. Accession would also improve the United Statesâ€™ position and add to our credibility in a large number of Asia-focused multilateral venues where Law of the Sea matters are discussed.
It is important to note that the United States was one of the leaders of the Conventionsâ€™ negotiations and our national interests â€“ as both a coastal nation and maritime nation â€“ are reflected in its provisions. Consequently, accession by the United States would send a powerful and affirmative message to the international community that the U.S. believes the legal regime reflected in the Convention is worth supporting and upholding against any nation that might seek to manipulate the ordinary and intended meaning of certain provisions in its self-interest. In short, ratification would enhance stability for international maritime rules and the freedom of access for U.S. forces in the USPACOM AOR to execute assigned missions.
Adm. Locklear is currently serving as Commander, US Naval Forces Europe and Commander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples.
<div align=center>THE DEPUTY SECRETARY’S REMARKS AT THE
SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON
APRIL 3, 2008
Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Stevens, members of the Committee, I appreciate your invitation to address the Committee this morning on ways the United States can strengthen the management and enforcement of fisheries around the globe. Today, the State Department witness, Ambassador David Balton, will testify in much greater detail about our efforts to formulate and enforce better management measures for international fisheries. For my part, I would like to focus on how the challenges we face in this endeavor are compelling reasons for the United States to become party to the Law of the Sea Convention as soon as possible.
With 155 parties, including the major fishing nations, the Law of the Sea Convention is widely accepted as the legal framework under which all international fisheries must operate. The United States accepts the fisheries provisions of the Convention. Indeed, those provisions form the basis of a related treaty that the United States has already ratified – the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement – which deals with the management of key stocks within and outside of the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Vice Chairman Stevens will recall that he went to the United Nations when the UN Fish Stocks Agreement was adopted to deliver the U.S. intervention supporting that Agreement. The United States was the third country to ratify the Fish Stocks Agreement, and we also chaired the 7 meetings of the parties in the Agreement, as well as the 2004 Review Conference held to consider its implementation.
Despite our leadership on this issue, some nations still question our intentions and our right to press for improvements in the management and enforcement of international fisheries rules – because we have not yet joined the Law of the Sea Convention. Acceding to the Convention will give us greater leverage in negotiating on these matters— particularly in our efforts to eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
American fishermen already follow these standards and they support our accession to the Law of the Sea Convention. By doing so, we will be in a stronger position to encourage other governments to hold their fishermen accountable to the same standards that ours now uphold.
Other important industries support the Convention as well. Oil and gas companies want international recognition and greater legal clarity regarding the outer limits of our continental shelf beyond 200 miles. This will facilitate access to the vast energy resources residing there, particularly in the Artic. American companies can recover valuable minerals from the deep seabed only if we join the Convention, because a permit issued under domestic legislation would not provide a U.S. entity with certainty of tenure. The telecommunications and shipping industries also want the Convention’s protection of submarine cables and navigational freedoms.
An equally important reason to join is to put our vital navigational rights on the firmest legal footing. The United States military establishment continues to express its urgent need for our accession to the Convention, in order to promote international cooperation on initiatives of national security importance, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Lastly, I want to note that no additional legislation on fisheries or on any other topic is required before acceding to the Convention. Indeed, the drafters of the 1976 Fishery Conservation and Management Act intended it to be consistent with the Convention’s provisions on fisheries, and
subsequent amendments to what is now known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act have preserved that consistency.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, I would be pleased to provide for the record my testimony on the substance of the Convention before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing last fall for any members who might be interested.
Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Stevens, I know that you are both strong supporters of the Law of the Sea Convention. I thank you for your leadership and for this opportunity to make the case for U.S. accession to the Convention in the context of international fisheries management and enforcement.
October 14, 2003 - Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN MCCAIN, U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA,
CHAIRMAN, SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE
I am pleased to testify, today in support of the Senate's ratification
of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. As Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has
jurisdiction over oceans, and maritime and ocean navigation, I believe
ratification of this important Convention would help strengthen our
national security, promote the free and unimpeded flow of inter-national
trade and commerce, and protect our vital natural resources. Its
ratification would enable the United States to regain its leadership
role in promoting the rule of law for the oceans and encouraging respect
for traditional navigational freedoms.
Throughout our nation's history, our security and economic well-being
have long been dependent on our free access to the world's seas. The
oceans have helped to protect us against potential adversaries,
facilitate the transportation and trade of our products, and provided
abundant fish and natural resources in the waters off our shores.
The United States has historically been a global leader in advocating
the Law of the Sea. After World War II, the United States was at the
forefront in calling for a formal Law of the Sea and was one of its
champions during the two decade struggle to draft this Convention.
However, when the Convention was opened for signature in 1982, much of
the developed world, led by the United States, refused to sign it over
concerns with the provisions related to deep seabed exploitation.
In the early 1990s, the United States helped craft an important
compromise which satisfied the many objections to the deep seabed mining
provisions. Yet despite removing this impediment, we still have not
ratified this Convention, which to date has been ratified by 143
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a comprehensive
regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas and it serves as
an umbrella convention under which rules governing all uses of the
oceans and their resources are established. As a global power, the
United States depends on ready and unrestricted access to the world's
oceans and international airspace. The navigational rights and freedoms
codified by the Convention would ensure our military continues to have
the mobility it needs to maintain a military presence around the world
and move military forces where needed. Additionally, these rights and
freedoms will ensure our nation's ability to ship goods and materials
throughout the world using the most expeditious routes.
Support for Convention ratification within the United States is
widespread and diverse, including environmental groups, the maritime
industry, the oil and natural gas industry, and the oceanographic
research community. The Clinton Administration previously supported
ratifying the Convention and now the U.S. State Department has indicated
its support of ratification. Additionally, in one of its first official
acts, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy publicly called for
ratification of the Convention.
As a result of our failure to ratify the Convention, our national
interests have suffered. We are now barred from membership on the Law
of the Sea Tribunal and the Continental Shelf Commission as well as the
right to name members to special arbitration panels which are
responsible for settling interstate disputes. In these bodies, the
United States has been relegated to observer status. Furthermore, the
United States is barred from membership in the International Seabed
Authority where parties to the Convention organize and direct ventures
to exploit the mineral resources of the deep seabed.
The importance of the U.S. ratification of the Convention is further
compounded by the emerging issues brought about because of Global
Climate. For example, as the Arctic icecap around the Canadian Arctic
archipelago continues to shrink and thin, some scientists have suggested
the Northwest Passage could be open for possible year-round navigable
passage within 10 to 15 years. As a result, the contentious issue of
whether this passage will be an international strait or considered part
of Canadian waters will need to be determined.
It has been more than nine years since the Convention was transmitted to
the Senate for ratification, where it has since resided with the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations. Today's hearing is an important step
toward finally addressing this critical international issue and I hope
it prompts Senate ratification of the Convention in the near future.
Copies of prepared statements of Senators Menendez and Lugar and of the seven witnesses before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 4, 2007 are available to view or download at the Senate Foreign Relations COmmittee web site on the page for the<a href="http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2007/hrg071004a.html" target=_blank> October 4th hearing.
In addition, the video feed of the hearing is <a href="http://foreign.senate.gov/archives/2007/archive100407.ram" target=_blank>available
The hearings begin at 20 minutes and 47 seconds into the recording so use the RealPlayer slider to advance to that point to view the hearing from the beginning.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 11, 2005,, John Bolton was asked to discuss the Proliferation Security Initiative and its relation to the Law of the Sea Convention. Bolton was the definitive witness on this topic because he had been Under Secretary of State that oversaw the creation of the PSI.
LUGAR: [D]o you see any potential entanglement of the United States with the Law of the Sea Treaty and loss of sovereignty to the U.N. or to any other world body?
BOLTON: No, I don't see that the Law of the Sea Treaty implicates the United Nations in any material respect. And those that have gone over the question of the seabed conclude there's no risk of taxation or anything like that.
As I say, my own review and that of the bureaus that report to me was on the importance that our military attached to it.
I will say, perhaps, one related point. A number of people have asked about the relationship of the Law of the Sea Treaty to the Proliferation Security Initiative.
And you know, I don't think that if the Senate were to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty and the president were to make the treaty, that it would have any negative impact whatsoever on PSI.
One of the things the PSI statement of interdiction principle says very clearly is that any actions taken pursuant to PSI would be done in accordance with existing national and international authority.
And of course all of our other core group members of the PSI are states party to the Law of the Sea Treaty.
We would not ask them, obviously, to do anything that would violate their obligations. And so, in effect, we built that into the PSI base as it were.
The key lines of Mr. Bolton's testimony are:
"I don't think that if the Senate were to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty and the president were to make the treaty, that it would have any negative impact whatsoever on PSI."
- "I don't see that the Law of the Sea Treaty implicates the United Nations in any material respect."
- "And those that have gone over the question of the seabed conclude there's no risk of taxation or anything like that."
It is generally anticipated that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold two days of hearings on the subject of US accession to the LOS Convention, with the first day devoted to hearing from Government representatives and the second day to non-government witnesses. It is expected that the hearings will be held in late September and early October.
As of today (September 8, 2007) the dates of the hearings have not been announced nor have witness lists been confirmed. We will post this information as soon as it is confirmed by the Committee.
Excerpted from the full transcript of the hearings)
LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And I'm heartened by your initial testimony, Secretary
Negroponte, that you favor a Law of the Sea Treaty.
Let me just ask, what is your suggestion to us or to the
administration as to how progress on that treaty might be effected?
LUGAR: We've been working on this, as you know, for a while and
it hasn't happened yet. But I would be hopeful the chairman would
initiate work on the situation.
Would you just affirm again the administration's position?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I'm grateful that you ask the question. And I
put the reference to Law the Sea in my opening statement because I
spent a number of years working on related questions. And there must
be literally hundreds of individuals in this town and throughout the
United States who, at one point or another over the past 30 or 35
years, have worked on the Law of the Sea.
And you will recall, Senator, back in the 1970s, this was
considered one of the defining issues in negotiations between us and
the third world.
I think it's a treaty that is very much in the national interests
and the national security interests.
I understand it's been voted out of the committee one time and
sent to the floor.
I've also been advised that given the time that has elapsed, it
may be desirable, but this would be your own -- this would be to the
Senate and your committee -- to have another hearing on the issue of
the Law of the Sea before sending it back forward.
But I do think that a very strong case can be made that this is a
treaty that is in the national interests -- protects our economic and
national security interests.
LUGAR: Thank you for that affirmation.
Testimony in Support of the Convention:
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Schachte-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>William Schachte
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Moore-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>John Norton Moore
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Taft-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>William H. Taft, IV
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Clark-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>Adm. Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations
Testimony in Opposition
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Kirkpatrick-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>Jeane Kirkpatrick
- <a href="http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/lostestimony/Middendorf-ArmedServices.pdf" target=_blank>Wiliam Middendorf