October 24, 2007

Law of the Sea

Do you want a chance at getting the US government to participate in international climate treaties in the future? To restore its good name as a country that believes in, and abides by, international law? Then I'd ask you to contact your Senators and member of the House to ask them to support ratification of the Law of the Sea. The American Prospect's Kate Sheppard explains in more detail:

... The story behind the Law of the Sea begins in the 1960s. Before then, the 70 percent of the earth's surface covered by oceans had been generally considered neutral territory, but there was growing international pressure to create a system for negotiating drilling, mining, and fishing rights.

This led to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, and between 1973 and 1982, representatives from 160 nations met regularly to hash out concerns about military navigation rights, territorial boundaries, environmental protections, and use of the ocean's resources. The convention also established procedures for settling disputes that might arise between nations, and created the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which along with the International Seabed Authority, works to maintain order and settle disputes on and under the sea. In 1982, these regulations were formalized as the Law of the Sea Convention, and passed on to individual nations for ratification.

... "You have an agreement that's endorsed by a Republican president, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, an overwhelming number of senators from both political parties, business groups, trade associations, and you already have 155 countries that are party to the treaty. It seems like if you can't get that through, I don't know what kind of treaty you can get through the Senate," said Spencer Boyer, director of international law and diplomacy for the Center for American Progress. ...

Kneejerk throwbacks, like climate-denying Sen. James Inhofe and wingnut lunatic Michelle Malkin, are rabidly opposed. The Democratic leadership has been dragging its feet, even though this is something they could pass that the president would sign, a dodge they've used to avoid passing other meaningful legislation.

But Sen. Joe Biden supports it, as does Sen. Dick Lugar, every branch of the military, environmental groups, and businesses. And if you opposed John Bolton's nomination on principle, the Law of the Sea is definitely something you want to support.

Anyway, take a more careful read, then contact some representatives. It's the right law to support for the sake of international relations, it's the right law to support to preserve the hope that we can take needed actions to protect our human habitat.

Posted by natasha at October 24, 2007 10:30 AM | International | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Your advocac for US acceptance of the 1982 law of the sea treaty is right on, but Kate Sheppard is off by 10 years in her account of the background. The first negotiations on this occurred in the 1950s and again in 1960 resulting in 4 treaties to which the US is a party. The 3d conference vastly extended the scope and some of the content of these agreements in ways that in nearly every respect serve US interests, the only exception being the provisions on scientific research. There is little, if anything, to be done about the latter subject, and the Senate should act so that the US can participate with everyone else in dealing with the Arctic issues and others that will arise.

Posted by: William Burke at October 25, 2007 10:43 AM