As the country with the world’s second longest coastline, the United States of America today revealed the many benefits of ratifying The Law of the Sea Convention (Treaty Doc. 103-39).
In her testimony today at DC on “The U.S. National Security and Strategic Imperatives for Ratification,” US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said no country is better served by this convention than the United States.
She cites that as the world’s foremost maritime power, the US benefits from the convention’s favorable freedom of navigation provisions.
“We benefit from its provisions on offshore natural resources.” -Ms. Clinton
As a country with an exceptionally large area of seafloor, she stresses that US benefits from the ability to extend its continental shelf, and the oil and gas rights on that shelf.
In addition, as a global trading power, the US benefits from the mobility that the convention accords to all commercial ships.
She notes that as the only country under this treaty that was given a permanent seat on the group that will make decisions about deep seabed mining, it will be in a unique position to promote its interests as well.
“Now, the many benefits of this convention have attracted a wide-ranging coalition of supporters.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton cites that both Republican and Democratic presidents have supported U.S. accession.
She adds that military leaders also see the benefits for the convention to its national security.
Some Americans, especially those concerned about US sovereignty, believe the Law Of The Sea is a major problem, because it turns over control of more than just the sea, to the United Nations. They say the treaty as it stands will compromise the US military and cede control over to an organization that does not care for US sovereignty, and cannot control its own corruption.
“American businesses, including, strongly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, see the economic benefits.” -Ms. Clinton
The Convention has the support of every affected industry, including shipping, fisheries, telecommunications and energy, environmental groups as well, she noted.
The US government has a coalition of environmental, conservation, business, industry, and security groups all in support of this convention.
And I would ask that my longer written statement along with the letters that I have received in support of the treaty be entered into the record.
According to Ms. Clinton, there are four new developments that make US participation a matter of utmost security and economic urgency.
“First, for years, American oil and gas companies were not technologically ready to take advantage of the convention’s provisions regarding the extended U.S. continental shelf. Now they are.” -Ms. Clinton
She adds that the convention allows countries to claim sovereignty over their continental shelf far out into the ocean, beyond 200 nautical miles from shore.
The second development concerns deep seabed mining, which takes place in that part of the ocean floor that is beyond any country’s jurisdiction, she noted.
She stresses that the convention offers the only effective mechanism for gaining this title. However, Ms. Clinton added that only a party to the convention can use this mechanism on behalf of its companies.
“The third development that is now urgent is the emerging opportunities in the Arctic.” -Ms. Clinton
She explains that ss the area gets warmer, it is opening up to new activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration, shipping, and tourism.
The convention provides the international framework to deal with these new opportunities, she stressed.
The US is the only Arctic nation outside the convention. She pointed out that as a party to the convention, it would have a much stronger basis to assert our interests throughout the entire Arctic region.
The fourth development is that the convention’s bodies are now up and running, she cited.
She says the body that makes recommendations regarding countries’ continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles is actively considering submissions from over 40 countries without the participation of a U.S. commissioner.
The body addressing deep seabed mining is now drawing up the rules to govern the extraction of minerals of great interest to the United States and American industry, she added.
“So whatever arguments may have existed for delaying U.S. accession no longer exist and truly cannot be even taken with a straight face.” -Ms. Clinton
She stresses that the benefits of joining have always been significant, but today the costs of not joining are increasing.
“I therefore urge the Committee to listen to the experts, listen to our businesses, listen to the Chamber of Commerce, listen to our military, and please give advice and consent to this treaty before the end of this year.” -Ms. Clinton
The Convention has the strong support of United States Federal Agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, and the Interior.
The US government considers the treaty a victory for U.S. diplomacy. It would serve both our national security interests, as countless current and former U.S. military officials have stated, by assuring navigational rights of our vessels worldwide, as well as our economic and energy interests, as a wide array of U.S. industries have stated.
The treaty would secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive offshore natural resources, including substantial oil and gas resources in the Arctic. The extended continental shelf areas we stand to gain under the treaty are at least twice the size of California.
The State Department says joining the Convention is the only viable means of protecting and maximizing US ocean-related interests.