U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will facilitate U.S. efforts in war on terrorism
Mr. Chairman, becoming party to the Convention will facilitate the prosecution of the war on terrorism in general, and the implementation of the President’s proliferation security initiative in particular. President Bush has emphasized that we cannot wait for the terrorists and their weapons to reach us. What is, or should be, clear from this is that we must exercise our global navigation and overflight rights and freedoms at sea anywhere in the world in order to reach our operational destinations. Not every government of the numerous countries past whose coasts our forces must travel to reach their destinations would necessarily wish to associate itself with every one of our operations. When we become party to the Convention, those governments will have an easier time explaining their acquiescence in our activities to domestic or foreign critics on the grounds of their treaty obligations to the United States, and we will have an easier time persuading them to do so without the need to expend our political or economic capital. Those who have expressed concerns in this respect seem to overlook the fact that the rules of high seas law set forth in the Law of the Sea Convention are copied from the 1958 High Seas Convention. Similarly, they overlook the fact that the rules of the Law of the Sea Convention regarding navigation and overflight and other high seas freedoms were expressly embraced by President Reagan in his 1983 statement on oceans policy, and constitute the bedrock of the legal foundation for our operations at sea around the world. The Administration has made it clear that it is able to and intends to carry out the proliferation security initiative in a manner consistent with high seas law as set forth in the Law of the Sea Convention, and that doing so is in our interests.
U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would bolster homeland security efforts in two significant ways. First, it would provide a stable legal basis for U.S. freedom of navigation rights, preserving the right of the U.S. military to use the world’s oceans to meet national security requirements. Secondly, it would provide stronger legal basis for the U.S. to conduct necessary counter-terrorism interdiction operations and challenge excessive claims.