Later this morning the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
will examine the national security and strategic imperatives for ratifying the
Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify. (View the live webcast here starting at 10 AM.)
In preparation for today’s hearing, below is a primer on
what I see as the national security rationale for ratifying LOSC. As I have
written before here on the
blog and in a recent policy brief on Security
at Sea, ratifying the convention will serve a range of national
security interests. For example:
- Ratification would lock in critical navigational
rights and other customary practices that are codified in the treaty and,
perhaps more importantly, give the United States a seat at the table to rebuff
attempts by rising maritime powers to redefine or reinterpret practices that
have been so beneficial to the global economy and U.S. national interests, such
as the right of military vessels to exercise innocent passage through a coastal
state’s territorial waters.
- Ratification would allow the United States to
lay sovereign claim to the potentially trillion dollars of deep-sea oil, natural
gas and mineral resources on our extended continental shelf – an area beyond
our current 200-nautical mile jurisdiction – through an internationally
recognized claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
Accessing these resources is ever more important in promoting U.S. domestic
energy and minerals production and all the benefits that would accrue to U.S.
economic and national security.
- Finally, ratification will put the
United States in a position of strengthen and restore its maritime leadership in
strategic regions around the globe, including the Arctic and the South China
Sea. Being party to the treaty would allow the United States to secure its right
to resources in the Arctic, take part in crucial conversations at the Arctic
Council and rebuff attempts by other powers to infringe on U.S. interests. Ratifying
the treaty would also give the U.S. more credibility with allies over the
dispute in the South China Sea by encouraging those in the region to abide by
the treaty’s laws and seek resolution through the convention’s recognized legal
framework. As Secretary Panetta put it recently, “How can we argue
that other nations must abide by international rules, when we haven’t
officially accepted those rules.”
To learn more, check out our recent study, Security
at Sea: The Case for Ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention.
For additional resources, visit The American Sovereignty Campaign.