Clinton: Ratify Law of the Sea Treaty this year

Clinton: Ratify Law of the Sea Treaty this year

The U.S. Senate should ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty before the end of the year because it is in Amerca’s economic and national security interests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify today.

The treaty is "critical to the leadership and security of the United States" and joining it is "a priority for the Department of State and for me personally," Clinton will tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, according to prepared remarks obtained in advance by The Cable. Clinton will testify alongside Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey in what will be the first in a series of hearings convened by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA).

"U.S. interests are deeply tied to the oceans," Clinton will say. "No country is in a position to gain more from the Law of the Sea Convention than the United States."

She will argue that the United States benefits from the treaty’s maritime freedom of navigation provisions and she will maintain that American business will benefit from the treaty’s provisions governing mining rights along U.S. coastlines.

"Off the north shore of Alaska, our continental shelf could extend 600 miles into the Arctic," she will say.

Clinton will argue that U.S. companies are ready to participate in deep seabed mining but that the United States needs to be a party to the treaty so that American businesses can take advantage of mining opportunities outside the country’s exclusive economic zone.

"It is no wonder then that there is such a strong and wide-ranging coalition supporting U.S. accession," Clinton will say, according to the prepared remarks. "The U.S. military has consistently and unequivocally supported the convention for its national security benefits. Affected U.S. industries, including shipping, fisheries, telecommunications, and energy, have consistently supported U.S. accession for its economic benefits. Non-governmental organizations concerned with the protection of natural resources have consistently supported U.S. accession. And both Republican and Democratic Presidents have supported U.S. accession. I have never seen another treaty with such intensive and broad support."

Even George W. Bush supported U.S. accession to the treaty, Clinton will point out. She will also say that the treaty has been thoroughly vetted in the Senate, back in 2007 and in 2004, including with hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee when she was a member.

"The United States is long past due in joining this convention," Clinton will testify. "Our global leadership on maritime issues is at stake. I therefore urge the Committee to give its swift approval for U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention and ratification of the 1994 Agreement, and urge the Senate to give its advice and consent before the end of this year."

In his own testimony, Dempsey will testify that the military is firmly behind swift ratification of the treaty, that there are concrete benefits for U.S. security, and that joining the treaty is necessary to maintain American leadership in maritime affairs.

"Our absence from the convention separates us from our partners and allies. It places us in the company of those who disdain the rule of international law," Dempsey will say, according to his own prepared remarks. "We are the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the only Arctic nation that is not a party to the Convention. As a result, there are limits to our ability to build coalitions for important international security efforts."

"This treaty has been thoroughly debated and vetted, and it has consistently received support from senior defense leaders," he will say. "We should become party to the Law of the Sea Convention now and demonstrate our global maritime leadership."