I just received Senator Biden’s statement on the Convention of the Law of the Sea. They’re below, in full. If you need background, I’ve offered some here and here. There was also a great post over at Democracy Arsenal yesterday you should check out as well. Interestingly enough, Scott Paul over at the Washington Note points to an op-ed by Jim head of the black helicopter crowd Inhofe, that has him basically admitting he’s full of it on CLOS.
It is important to note that no foreign or international entity could actually force the United States into any international court. The United States could go on about its business as if everyone else in the world is misinterpreting the treaty Ã¢â‚¬” but our standing in the world would suffer because of this.
It’s hard to believe that our standing could be any worse. That Inhofe is going against what the U.S. Navy wants and the Joint Chiefs support shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s why his Democratic opponent, Andrew Rice, has blasted away at him.
“As a U.S. Senator who constantly portrays himself as a pro-national security public servant, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe is now choosing to ignore the pleas of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Navy, among other military leaders, when they ask for Senate approval of UNCLOS. American military leaders have made it clear that participation in UNCLOS will enhance our national security and that changes have been made in UNCLOS provisions to explicitly protect American interests. And yet Jim Inhofe and a very small minority are working against our nation’s best interests, simply because it might hurt the special interests he puts before the needs of Oklahomans again and again. Inhofe is clearly out of step with our national security needs.” – Andrew Rice
Ratifying CLOS is very important and Biden explains why.
Today the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations will consider five
treaties and three nominations.
The lead item on the agenda is the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which
has been pending before the Senate for thirteen years. This will be the second
time the Committee has voted on the treaty. In 2004, when Senator Lugar was
Chairman, it was approved by a vote of 19 to zero.
The treaty is the product of over two decades of effort, which began in 1970,
when President Nixon proposed a new round of negotiations to remedy flaws
in four treaties on the law of the sea that had been adopted in 1958.
In May 1970, President Nixon called on the nations of the world to resolve
the basic issues of the future regime for the oceans through a new treaty.
The treaty, he said, should establish an international mechanism to authorize
and regulate explorations and use of seabed resources beyond national jurisdiction.
He said, it should also establish general rules to prevent unreasonable interference
with other uses of the ocean, to protect the ocean from pollution, to assure
the integrity of investment necessary for exploitation [of the seabed], and
to provide for peaceful and compulsory settlement of disputes.
The point of all this, he said, was to save the oceans from national conflict
and rivalry, protect it from pollution and put it to use for the benefit of
all. That was Richard Nixon Ã¢â‚¬“ hardly a starry-eyed liberal when it came
to international affairs. And every President since Nixon has supported these
President Reagan rejected the Convention in 1982, but only because he objected
to its provisions on deep seabed mining. In 1983, he announced that the United
States would follow the rules laid down in the rest of the Convention. Under
the first President Bush, negotiations to revise the seabed mining provisions
were initiated, culminating in the 1994 Agreement, signed by President Clinton,
on the Implementation of Part Eleven of the Convention.
In 2002, the Bush Administration said that Senate action on the treaty was
urgently needed. In May of this year, President Bush reinforced that statement
by urging the Senate to approve the Convention during this session of Congress.
The Convention is long and complex, but for the United States, I believe
the choice is relatively simple.
Do we join a treaty that establishes a framework to advance the rule of law
on the oceans, that is clearly in our military, economic, and environmental
interests, and that has broad acceptance among the major maritime powers?
Or do we remain on the outside, to the detriment of our national interests?
I strongly believe that we should become a party to the Convention, and that
any risks it poses are far outweighed by the benefits.
Militarily, the treaty codifies key rights of navigation on which the United
States Navy relies. The opponents of the Convention contend that we can use
customary international law, and the military muscle of the Navy, to protect
our navigational interests. This argument is curious, coming as it does from
people who often question that there is such a thing as customary law. More
to the point, however, customary law is less stable, and commands less respect
among nations, than rights firmly established by treaty. I think we owe our
armed forces a firm legal footing as we project power around the globe.
Economically, the treaty provides a range of benefits. Prominent among these
is a means to firmly establish our legal claims to the resources on the continental
shelf beyond 200 nautical miles; off the coast of Alaska, our shelf may extend
for 600 miles. The oil and gas industry is unanimous in support of the Convention,
as they seek the legal certainty needed to invest the dollars necessary to
extract resources from the shelf.
The Convention establishes a legal regime to govern deep seabed mining in
a manner that satisfies all the objections of President Reagan. Among other
things, it abolishes mandatory technology transfer requirements, and gives
the United States a permanent seat on the Council of the International Seabed
Authority, the key decision-making body. The Convention also strengthens legal
protections for underwater sea cables, a key component of our information
The coalition supporting the treaty is broad. In addition to President Bush,
it is supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Western Governors Association,
the Navy League of the United States, the Military Officers Association, the
oil and gas industry, the telecommunications industry, the shipping industry,
and environmental and fishing organizations. I am unaware of any ocean industry
that has expressed opposition to it.
The coalition of supporters also includes both of President Reagan’s Secretaries
of State, Al Haig and George Shultz; his National Security Advisers, Bud McFarlane
and Colin Powell; and his Secretary of Treasury and Chief of Staff Jim Baker.
It was also supported by his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral
William Crowe, who passed away earlier this month, and who was buried this
morning in Annapolis.
The Committee will consider a resolution of ratification, the document by
which the Senate gives advice and consent to treaties. The resolution that
Senator Lugar and I have presented to the Committee is identical to the resolution
that the Committee endorsed unanimously in 2004. It was developed in close
collaboration with the Bush Administration, which was represented in those
negotiations with the Committee by the Departments of State, Defense, and
Justice. Not one word has been changed since 2004.
UPDATE: Foreign Relations Committee Overwhelmingly Approves Law of the Sea. Norm Coleman’s contortions continue.