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Issue Background

Law of the Sea

Potential concerns over the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea are far outwieghed by the benefits the treaty would provide.  The Convention would give American industry a boost to persue resources in international waters in addition to enhancing U.S. sovereignty in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.  The security advantages with improved cooperation in counterterrorism and law enforcement would give the U.S. key tools that it currently does not possess.  The Navy League urges the Senate to immediately give its advice and consent to this important treaty.

The Convention on the Law of the Sea is the main body of international maritime law which provides a basis for security operations and trade on the high seas.  When the Convention came into force in 1994, the United States signed but did not ratify it due to objections raised in the U.S. Senate whose consent is constitutionally required for ratification.  An additional agreement address many of these concerns but the U.S. Senate has never ratified the Convention.  The Convention codifies many aspects of the concepts included in the idea of "freedom of the seas" which U.S. military and economic strength is dependent.  Because the Senate has not ratified the treaty, the United States cannot fully take advantage of key economic and foreign policy opportunities such as Arctic resource exploration and enforcement of territorial sovereignty.  China is seeking to circumvent the Convention in the South China Sea despite losing a high profile case in the International Court of Justice in the Hague.  Freedom of the seas rests on open oceans and clear legal standards.  If the United States wishes to continue to reaping the benefits of international law it is time for it to confirm it's dedication to freedom of the seas by ratifying the Convention.

Watch the video below to see fotage of Chinese Coast Guard and fishing vessels operating in the Senkaku Islands which are claimed by Japan.