Statement of John Norton Moore: Senate Advice and Consent to the Law of the Sea Convention (April 8, 2004)
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Myth: There has been inadequate consideration of the Law of the Sea Treaty and we need more time to study it.
Nonsense! Those who espouse this view fail to note that this is the second round of Senate hearings on the Convention. The first round was held in 1994 when the Convention was initially submitted to the Senate. The Senate, and the Country, has had a decade to study the Convention, and for several decades, since 1983, we have lived under the legal regime of everything but Part XI. I have an especially hard time in finding any sympathy for this position urging delay when it comes from spokesmen who were not heard calling for more consideration of the Convention for the full decade while the treaty languished before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rarely has any Convention come before the Senate that is more fully understood in its impact and stakes for our Nation, and that has been more fully studied and debated – and, in real effect, lived under; and
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Given the price of gasoline today, surely there is broad agreement that the United States needs to get on with the task of developing the oil and gas of our continental margins beyond 200 miles. Without adherence to the Convention that is unlikely to happen for years to come. The large investments that must be made to drill in deep water simply will not be made without legal certainty and security of tenure. Further, the United States has a crucial interest in protecting navigational freedom for the oil and gas brought to the United States that is so crucial for our economy. About 44 % of U.S. maritime commerce concerns petroleum and its products. To put this in further perspective, offshore oil and gas is now the world=s largest marine industry, with oil production alone in the range of $300 billion per year. For these and other reasons of relevance to our security interest in oil and gas, and the interests of our oil and gas industry, Mr. Paul L. Kelly, speaking on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, and the National Ocean Industries Association, and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that "the U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports Senate ratification of the Convention at the earliest date possible;" ""
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For the United States to refuse to adhere to a Convention even after the rest of the world met every single one of our demands for changes to the Convention will severely impact the ability of the United States to negotiate international agreements. I believe this will have a particularly serious effect on our security interests, many of which depend on mobilizing our allies. Certainly, as a sovereign nation, we have every right to negotiate a treaty and then decide not to ratify, but in this instance, where we specified the changes necessary for United States support that were then agreed to by the rest of the world, even some of our closest friends have difficulty understanding our behavior in not moving forward to date. A failure to ratify at this point will have adverse effects for our foreign relations with even some of our closest allies. We are the world’s most powerful military power, but we still need the understanding and support of our friends – and we need to act with consistency and reliability in our foreign policy;
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Isolationism is not a strategy for victory against terrorism. The threat is global and our engagement must be global. That inevitably means that we must enhance our ability to influence other nations and to multiply United States actions through cooperative actions worldwide. If our country is viewed as simply turning inward and being unwilling to participate internationally despite agreements in which we have clearly served our interests, we will not facilitate such needed assistance from others. United States adherence to the Law of the Sea Convention will be carefully monitored by our allies, all of whom have been urging us to move forward, and it will have an impact on the climate in the war on terrorism, as well as other security and foreign policy objectives of the United States. The view that such Asoft@ considerations are unimportant is profoundly unrealistic. The Law of the Sea Convention is low hanging fruit that lets us send a clear message: America will support good international agreements, but it will stand firm against the bad ones. This differentiated message is crucial. If we are viewed as simply opposing all international agreements, no matter how favorable to the United States (as this one truly is), we will have far less ability to multiply our national interests through cooperative actions with others.
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The Law of the Sea Convention is a key weapon in this struggle for our oceans’ freedom. The United States won through the negotiations the core elements of that freedom. To abandon that win is the legal equivalent of unilateral disarmament for the United States in the struggle for freedom of the seas. The price we will pay through time for any such error in judgment will be high. In essence the critics who would have us abandon a rule of law in the world’s oceans may effectively be asking American servicemen and women someday to pay with their lives for the absence of such a rule of law. This is not mere hyperbole; already disputes about the oceans regime have cost American lives. Thus, an American aircraft in lawful overflight of the high seas was forced down by Peru in asserting an illegal claim over an extended area of the seas. More recently, harassment by Chinese fighters brought down a United States aircraft engaged in lawful activities under the 1982 Convention. And, at minimum, the economic cost of new naval configurations designed to get around a creeping loss of freedom – possibly with required pay-offs to coastal states – could be considerable.
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Myth: The United States is giving up sovereignty to a new international authority that will control the oceans.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States does not give up an ounce of sovereignty in this Convention. Rather, the Convention solidifies a truly massive increase in resource and economic jurisdiction of the United States, not only to 200 nautical miles off our coasts, but to a broad continental margin in many areas even beyond that. The new International Seabed Authority created by this Convention, which, as noted, has existed for a decade and will continue to exist regardless of United States actions, deals solely with the mineral resources of the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. That is an area in which we not only have no sovereignty but also in which we and the entire world have opposed extension of national sovereignty claims. Moreover, to mine the deep seabed minerals requires security of tenure for the billion dollar plus costs of such an operation. Our industry has emphatically told us that they can not mine under a 'fishing approach' in which everyone simply goes out to seize the minerals. The Authority was a necessary specialized agency, of strictly limited jurisdiction, to deal with this need for security of tenure. Quite contrary to the recent testimony of one witness before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the Seabed Authority would not have "the exclusive right to regulate what is done, by whom, when and under what circumstances in subsurface international waters and on the sea-floor."5 Rather, the Authority is a small, narrowly mandated specialized international agency that, emphatically, has no ability to control the water column and only has functional authority over the mining of the minerals of the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. Again, this is a necessary requirement for seabed mining, in an area beyond where any nation has sovereignty, to provide security of tenure to mine sites, without which mining will not occur6;