Hearing on Law of the Sea Convention

Thursday, March 25, 2004
The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works conducted an oversight hearing to examine the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Chairman, Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK), stated that the purpose of the hearing was to ensure that the Convention is consistent with protecting human health, the environment, and does not adversely affect the sovereignty of the United States. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) pointed out that only by ratifying the Convention will the United States have a seat at the table as the international community makes important decisions relating to issues covered by the Convention. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) testified that the Convention is largely consistent with current U.S. law, including fisheries conservation and management. John F. Turner, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, testified that the Administration has concluded that there are important reasons for the United States to become party to the Convention and urges Senate action on it. Frank Gaffney, Jr., President and CEO, The Center for Security Policy, expressed concern about erosion of U.S. sovereignty if it ratifies the Convention. Paul Kelly, Senior Vice President, Rowan Companies, Inc. and Member, U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, stated that the Commission strongly supports U.S. ratification of the Convention. Peter Leitner, author, expressed concern that the Convention might have an adverse impact on U.S. national defense and suggested that the government resurrect the historic use of Letters of Marque in both the war on terrorism and protection of the coastal environment. Bernard K. Oxman, Professor of Law, University of Miami, testified in strong support of U.S. ratification of the Convention. (HK Law)
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