Statement from Richard Lugar: The Law of the Sea Convention: The U.S. National Security and Strategic Imperatives for Ratification (Treaty Doc. 103-39)
Suggestions that somehow our maritime interests can be asserted solely through robust naval power are not relevant to the real world. The overwhelming majority of ocean disputes do not involve enemies or issues that warrant military action. As Admiral Patrick Walsh testified at our first hearing in 2007Statement of Admiral Patrick M. Walsh: 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 ." Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, September 27, 2007. [ More (4 quotes) ]: "Many of the partners that we have in the Global War on Terror who have put life, limb, and national treasure on the line are some of the same ones where we have disagreements on what they view as their economic zone or their environmental laws. It does not seem to me to be wise to now conduct Freedom of Navigation operations against those very partners that are in our headquarters trying to pursue a more difficult challenge ahead of us, a Global War on Terror." Even a mythical 1,000 ship U.S. Navy could not patrol every strait, protect every economic interest, or assert every navigational right. Attempting to do so would be prohibitively expensive and destructively confrontational. "
Every year that goes by without the U.S. joining the Convention results in deepening our country's submission to ocean laws and practices determined by foreign governments without U.S. input. Our Navy and our ocean industries operate every day in a maritime environment that is increasingly dominated by foreign decision-making. In almost any other context, the Senate would be outraged at subjecting Americans to foreign controls without U.S. input.
What many observers fail to understand about Law of the Sea is that the Convention already forms the basis of maritime law regardless of whether the United States is a party. International decisions related to resource exploitation, navigation rights, and other matters will be made in the context of the Convention whether we join or not. Because of this, there is virtual unanimity in favor of this treaty among people who actually deal with oceans on a daily basis and invest their money in job-creating activities on the oceans.
By not joining the treaty, we are abetting Russian ambitions in the Arctic. We are making the job of our Navy more difficult, despite the longstanding and nearly unanimous pleas of Navy leaders that U.S. participation in Law of the Sea will help them maintain navigational rights more effectively and with less risk to the men and women they command. We are turning our backs on the requests of important American industries that use the oceans and must abide by rules established under this Convention. We are diminishing our chances for energy independence by making U.S. oil and gas exploration in international waters less likely. And we will not even be able to participate in the amendment process to this treaty, which is far more likely to impose new requirements on our Navy and ocean industries if the U.S. is absent.