Statement from Hillary Clinton: The Law of the Sea Convention: The U.S. National Security and Strategic Imperatives for Ratification (Treaty Doc. 103-39)
Other Benefits. We should also join the Convention now to steer its implementation. The Convention’s institutions are up and running, and we – the country with the most to gain or lose on law of the sea issues – are sitting on the sidelines. As I mentioned, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has received submissions from over 40 countries without the participation of a U.S. commissioner. Recommendations made in that body could create precedents, positive and negative, on the future outer limit of the U.S. shelf. We need to be on the inside to protect and advance our interests. Moreover, in fora outside the Convention, the provisions of the Convention are also being actively applied. Only as a party can we exert the level of influence that reflects our status as the world’s foremost maritime power.
The second economic benefit I would like to highlight relates to mining in the deep seabed areas beyond any country’s jurisdiction. Only as a Party to the Convention could the United States sponsor U.S. companies like Lockheed Martin to mine the deep seabed for valuable metals and rare earth elements. These rare earth elements – essential for cell phones, flat-screen televisions, electric car batteries, and other high-tech products – are currently in tight supply and produced almost exclusively by China. While we challenge China’s export restrictions, we must also make it possible for U.S. companies to develop other sources of these critical materials. They can only do this if they can obtain secure rights to deep seabed mine sites and indisputable title to minerals recovered. While we sit on the sidelines, companies in China, India, Russia, and elsewhere are securing their rights, moving ahead with deep seabed resource exploration, and taking the lead in this emerging market.
Second, once the United States becomes a Party, we would have an unprecedented ability to influence deep seabed mining activities worldwide. In revising the Convention’s deep seabed provisions in the 1994 Agreement, our negotiators obtained a permanent U.S. seat on the seabed Council. This is the key decision-making 12 body established by the Convention on deep seabed matters. I know of no other international body that accords one country, and one country only – the United States – a permanent seat on its decision making body. In this way, the Convention’s institutions provide the United States with a level of influence commensurate with our interests and global standing. Until we join, however, our reserved seat remains empty. As a result, we have limited ability to shape the rules and no ability to help U.S. companies pursue their jobcreating initiatives to exploit deep seabed resources.