Last week, at a State Department roundtable hosted by Tom Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, interested groups met to discuss how to pass the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). Despite the treaty’s endorsements by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, ROA has taken an independent position as stated in its resolution 10-04: Non-ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty.
ROA does not disagree with the codification sought by the naval services, as they are seeking to get a formal international agreement on historical international law practices. But the Law of the Sea Treaty goes far beyond that, and as a broader agreement includes articles that affect the economic zones (and in turn national security) and the environment (including seabed mining, navigation, fishing, ocean pollution, and marine research).The treaty also sets up an international seabed authority to tax exploration of and control sea- bottom resources.
The ROA resolution was renewed by the delegates at the 2010 National Convention. ROA has concerns that LOST presents more risks than gains, as the treaty does not introduce any new protections for safe navigation on the high seas but could have an impact on the sovereignty of the United States. Many of the attendees at the State Department roundtable were international corporations and non-government organizations who have participating interests that will be strengthened by ratification of the treaty.
The State Department wants to proceed with LOST as its next major treaty following last year’s passage of New START. Many believe the Senate will attempt to push the treaty through in advance of the 2012 elections. ROA will be working with other groups to discourage ratification.