Statement of Admiral Jonathan Greenert: The Law of the Sea Convention: Perspectives from the U.S. Military
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LOSC provides a formal and consistent framework for the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes. It defines the extent of control nations can legally assert at sea and prescribes procedures to counter excessive maritime claims. Acceding to LOSC will increase our credibility in invoking and enforcing the treaty’s provisions and maximize our influence in the interpretation and application of the law of the sea. Recent interference with our operations in the Western Pacific and rhetoric by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz underscore the need to use the Convention to clearly identify and respond to violations of international law that seek to constrain access to international waters. As a party to the Convention, we will bolster our position to press the rule of law and maintain the freedom to conduct military activities in these areas.
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Remaining outside LOSC is inconsistent with our principles, our national security strategy and our leadership in commerce and trade. Virtually every major ally of the U.S. is a party to LOSC, as are all other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and all other Arctic nations. Our absence could provide an excuse for nations to selectively choose among Convention provisions or abandon it altogether, thereby eroding the navigational freedoms we enjoy today. Accession would enhance multilateral operations with our partners and demonstrate a clear commitment to the rule of law for the oceans. For example, under the Convention, warships are authorized to stop and board vessels if they are suspected to be without nationality or engaged in piracy. By joining LOSC, we would “lock in” these authorities as a matter of treaty law and thus strengthen our ability to conduct counter-piracy operations across the globe and provides an important tool to support counter-proliferation efforts, and maritime interdiction of terrorists and illegal traffickers tied to terrorism.