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The Law of the Sea Treaty: Strong Support for U.S. Ratification

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a critical hearing yesterday on the benefits of U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Secretary or State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey all delivered testimonies strongly supporting ratification of the treaty by the U.S. Senate. You can find a video of their testimonies, as well as prepared comments,  here. You can also find a good UNCLOS 101 by Will Rogers, as well as a full report on the treaty, at the CNAS website.

To paraphrase Rogers, the benefits of U.S. ratification of the treaty include locking in “critical navigational rights,” strengthening “the ability of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard to do their job and work with others to protect U.S. interests,” allowing the U.S. access to seabed resources on the U.S. extended continental shelf, and putting the U.S. “in a position of strength and restore its maritime leadership in strategic regions around the globe, including the Arctic and the South China Sea.”

Furthermore, as mentioned often during the testimonies, nearly all major stakeholders in the United States, including the U.S. military leadership, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, oil and gas companies and environmental organizations (not to mention the past five Democratic and Republican Administrations), have urged the Senate to ratify the treaty. Even former high-profile opponents, such as the previous Speaker of the House of Representatives Trent Lott, has publicly emerged as an advocate of ratification.

In other words, there’s a lot of support for this treaty.

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