High Level Group Says "US Must Join the Law of the Sea" (August, 2005)
Letter Urges Senate To Take Action
Bipartisan Group of Governors, US and Pew Ocean Commissioners, Former Cabinet
Secretaries, Members of House and Senate Among More Than 70 Signers
Washington DC – Calling upon the Senate to support US accession to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a bipartisan coalition of more than 70 influential national leaders including government officials, business leaders, environmental advocates, and interest groups urged Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) for rapid Senate approval of the treaty.
“Accession to the Convention is vital to US national security, economic, and international leadership interests,” according to the letter sent to Senator Frist. “The Convention has been thoroughly reviewed in Senate hearings and public forums, and has overwhelming support from a broad coalition that has carefully considered the issues from a variety of perspectives.”
This effort to push the Senate forward on Law of the Sea Convention was headed by the bipartisan duo of Admiral James D. Watkins and Leon E. Panetta, chairs of the US Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission respectively, both of which unanimously recommended accession to the Convention as an important part of a comprehensive and coordinated US ocean policy. Admiral Watkins and Mr. Panetta will also be seeking a meeting with Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to press for expeditious committee approval of a resolution of accession to the Law of the Sea Convention, thus allowing the Convention to be brought to the Senate floor for consideration before the end of this session of Congress.
“The Convention codifies and strengthens freedoms of navigation and overflight essential to U.S. military mobility,” Admiral Watkins said. “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.”
Among the signers of the letter are Walter Cronkite, former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright, James A. Baker, Colin Powell, former National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute Red Cavaney, CEO of The Nuclear Threat Initiative Sam Nunn, Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund William Reilly, former Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas R. Pickering, former EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus, former Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans, former Senators Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC), John Breaux (D-LA), and Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), George Pataki (R-NY), and Christine Gregoire (D-WA).
“All major US ocean industries, including offshore energy, maritime transportation and commerce, fishing, and shipbuilding support US accession to the Convention,” said Mr. Panetta. “Its provisions help protect vital US economic interests and provide the certainty and stability crucial for investment in global maritime enterprises. Accession to the Law of the Sea Convention will also emphasize US support for multilateral cooperation on an issue of significant international importance.”
Currently, there are 148 nations party to the Law of the Sea Convention including every major industrial nation except the US. The importance of US accession was further reinforced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her confirmation hearing where she stated that “…the Convention as it stands now serves our national security interests, our economic interests,” and urged favorable consideration by the Senate “as soon as possible.”
<a href="http://www.clgd.org/downloads/unclos/frist-aug05.pdf" target=_blank>View the letter with all signatures