Bush Asks Senate to Finalize Law of Sea Treaty

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
President Bush issued a statement supporting U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a clear sign to the new 110th Senate to act quickly to join the treaty which governs use of the world's oceans. Senate approval is the final step for the U.S. to formally join more than 140 nations that have already ratified or accessed to the Convention. The treaty went into effect in 1994 but the United States has not yet joined it. The members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee voted unanimously for accession in 2004 but the measure was not brought to the floor for a vote. One hundred and fifty two nations and the European Commission have joined the treaty. The U.S. has voluntarily complied with the entire convention since 1983 so accession would not require any changes in U.S. policy. The Law of the Sea also contains provisions important for national security and industry. The ability for the U.S. military to navigate on and fly over areas of ocean is now dependant on customary law which is subject to change. By providing a legal framework for activities important for national security, the Law of the Sea would protect the military's ability to conduct business over the oceans. All major U.S. ocean industries, including the offshore oil and gas, maritime transportation and commerce, fishing and shipbuilding support U.S. accession to the Convention.

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