Thursday, October 20, 2005

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Read the October 2005 UNA-USA fact sheet.

"The Law of the Sea Treaty was adopted by the United Nations in 1982 and entered into force in 1994. Although the United States played a lead role in drafting the treaty, the Reagan Administration did not sign it due to concerns relating to certain deep seabed mining provisions. However, since the negotiations began in 1973, every US Administration has supported the treaty in its entirety except for the deep seabed mining provisions, and the United States has accepted and complied with all other provisions of the treaty. In 1994, a legally-binding agreement altering the treaty was concluded, addressing all US concerns regarding deep seabed mining. The agreement was subsequently signed by the United States and must now receive the advice and consent of the Senate before it can be ratified by the United States.

"United States accession to the treaty has recently been strongly endorsed by President Bush; the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security; the US Navy; the US Coast Guard; a bipartisan collection of congressional leaders; and a diverse group of environmental organizations, trade associations and business groups. Despite such broad bipartisan support, the treaty was never considered by the full Senate last year after the Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved it in early 2004. However, late last year the congressionally-mandated US Commission on Ocean Policy and the Bush administration’s official response, the US Ocean Action Plan, both called for the Senate to approve the treaty as soon as possible. During her nomination hearing in January 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Foreign Relations Committee to again approve the treaty and pledged the Administration’s support in securing a vote in the full Senate.

"As the world’s leading maritime power, with the longest coastline of any country and some of the earth’s richest waters, the United States stands to benefit from the protections provided by the Law of the Sea Treaty more than any other country. Indeed, the US has long sought the establishment of a comprehensive, widely accepted legal framework that regulates all uses of the world’s oceans. The Law of the Sea Treaty, with 149 states parties, including every other permanent member of the Security Council and all other major industrialized nations, provides just such a framework. United States accession to the treaty would provide vital security, economic, and environmental benefits, and would greatly enhance our influence in the development and interpretation of maritime law."

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