Statement of Gordon England: Accession to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and Ratification of the 1994 Agreement Amending Part XI of the Law of the Sea Convention (September 27, 2007)
Becoming a Party to the Law of the Sea Convention directly supports our National Strategy for Maritime Security. As the President noted in the opening pages of the Strategy: “We must maintain a military without peer – yet our strength is not founded on force of arms alone. It also rests on economic prosperity and a vibrant democracy. And it rests on strong alliances, friendships, and international institutions, which enable us to promote freedom, prosperity, and peace in common purpose with others.” That simple truth has been the foundation for some of our most significant national security initiatives, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative. As the leader of a community of nations that are Parties to the Convention, more than 150 in total, the United States will be better positioned to work with foreign air forces, navies, and coast guards to address jointly the full spectrum of 21st Century security challenges.
The Senate can ensure that international tribunals do not gain jurisdiction over our military activities when we join this Convention. In 2003, the Administration worked closely with the Committee to develop a proposed Resolution of Advice and Consent --- which we continue to support --- that contains a declaration regarding choice of procedure for dispute resolution. The United States rejected the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and instead chose arbitration. That choice-of-procedure election is expressly provided for in the Convention itself. In addition, and again in accordance with the express terms of the Convention, the draft Resolution of Advice and Consent completely removes our military activities from the dispute resolution process. Furthermore, each State Party, including the United States, has the exclusive right to determine which of its activities constitutes a military activity, and that determination is not subject to review.