Despite the recent news that the number Senators vowing to vote against ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOTS) will derail its passage, this does not mean Law of the Sea is dead, as some have claimed.
To use the words of US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, “it’s a temporary inconvenience.”
US military commanders, top past & present government officials, the US Chamber of Commerce, US businesses, and Senator John Kerry are spearheading the fight for ratification.
Senator Kerry issued a statement saying that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold more hearings after the August recess on the treaty to continue answering the questions of those against it and keep it in discussion.
As Senator Kerry’s spokeswoman Jodi Seth pointed out, we are “in the middle of a white hot political campaign season where ideology is running in overdrive.”
Senator Kerry noted: “I am convinced that, if we can get past the politics of this toxic moment, we can get there on the merits. I will work to see that we do.” Mr. Donohue echoed this sentiment saying he believes “after the election, we’ll be able to get this done.”
The election season is a key hindrance to the treaty’s ratification. The treaty has been politicized, as everything seems to be in campaign season. This is why Senator Kerry said from the very beginning the treaty won’t be brought up for a vote until after the election.
The numerous benefits for our national security and economy are why LOTS has such broad, bipartisan support and why it shouldn’t politicized.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, explained:
“[LOTS] affirms the sovereign immunity of our warships and other public vessels, and it gives us the framework to counter excessive claims by states seeking to illegally restrict movement of vessels and aircraft.”
Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., Commandant of the US Coast Guard stated:
“…More than anything else, I believe in [LOTS] because we have young lieutenants that are commanding patrol boats, and we have bosun mates who are making law enforcement boardings; and they need the clarity and the continuity and the predictability that this convention provides in terms of making determinations on a daily basis on jurisdictional issues and other things.”
Joining the convention will also provide access to critical energy sources that would, as retired Lieutenant Colonel Dr. John Nagl said, “significantly improve U.S. national security by helping close our trade deficit and by providing more assured access to energy in case a major crisis were to occur.”
Mr. Donohue continued:
“Entering the agreement would expand U.S. sovereignty, strengthen national security, enhance global competitiveness, and spur job-creating commercial activity. The treaty would be a boon to the U.S. economy by providing American companies with the legal certainty and stability they need to hire and invest [in the rich seabed resources].”
With election season and the overwhelming benefits of the treaty in mind, those who support the treaty have vowed not to give up.
It is yet to be seen how steadfast in their resolve some of the opposition will be, especially after the election.
It is disheartening to think that some of our elected representatives won’t listen to the many military commanders who support the Law of the Sea Treaty but will instead listen to special interests.
The treaty has the support of every living Secretary of State and every President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief of Naval Operations. Having the Chamber of Commerce and the big names in oil & gas, telecommunications, and manufacturing industries behind the treaty will help eventually get it passed.
The Law of the Sea Treaty is still alive, “a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,’” and is needed to enhance our national security and improve our economy.
I believe it will be passed after the election when our senators can put partisan politics aside and focus on enhancing our national security and economy.