Statement of Paul L. Kelly: Oversight hearing to examine the "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea". (March 24, 2004)
There are many other examples of benefits that would be derived from U.S. accession to the LOS Convention. For example, the U.S. research fleet frequently suffers costly delays in ship scheduling when other nations fail to respond in a timely manner to our research requests. Currently, we are not in a position to rely on articles in the Convention that address this issue, such as the “Implied Consent” article (Article 252) that allows research to proceed within 6 months if no reply to the request has been received, and other provisions that outline acceptable reasons for refusal of a research request. Also, as a party to the Convention, the U.S. could participate in the member selection process, including nominating our own representatives, for the International Law of the Sea Tribunal, as well as the Continental Shelf Commission and the various organs of the International Seabed Authority.
From a security perspective, the LOS Convention provides a balance of interests that protect freedom of navigation and overflight in support of United States’ national security objectives. The provisions were carefully crafted during negotiations of the LOS Convention, and reflect the substantial input that the United States had in their development. In particular, the Convention provides core navigational rights through foreign territorial seas, international straits and archipelagic waters, and preserves critical high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight seaward of the territorial sea, including in the EEZ. The navigational freedoms guaranteed by the Convention allow timely movement by sea of U.S. forces throughout the world, and provide recognized navigational routes which can be used to expeditiously transport U.S. military cargo – 95 percent of which moves by ship. The Convention’s law enforcement provisions establish a regime that has proven to be effective in furthering international efforts to combat the flow of illegal drugs and aliens by vessel – efforts which directly impact our nation’s security. The Convention establishes the rights and obligations of flag states, port states, and coastal states with respect to oversight of vessel activities, and provides an enforcement framework to expeditiously address emerging maritime security threats.