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The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was the fruit of nearly ten years of negotiations. The resulting convention established a comprehensive legal regime for navigation and international management of marine resources, including the deep seabed. In January 1982, President Ronald Reagan announced his intention to reject UNCLOS, “While most provisions of the draft convention are acceptable and consistent with United States interests, some major elements of the deep seabed mining regime are not acceptable.”
During the 1990s the deep seabed mining provisions of UNCLOS were renegotiated in the “1994 Agreement,” which was signed by the Clinton Administration in July 1994. Treaty proponents, including each U.S. administration since 1994, maintain that the 1994 Agreement “fixed” the objectionable provisions of the Convention and urge U.S. accession. Standing in opposition were conservatives like Senator Jesse Helms who argued that the problems with the Convention were not restricted to the seabed provisions addressed in the 1994 Agreement and that the treaty remained problematic. President Reagan shared these concerns, stating in The Reagan Diaries that he would “not sign ‘Law of the Sea’ treaty even without seabed mining provisions.”
Previous attempts to accede to UNCLOS have foundered on the shoals of conservative opposition. However, reports indicate that the Obama Administration is again pressing for U.S. accession to UNCLOS and Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is considering hearings on the treaty this year.
Join us as Senator Lee offers his thoughts on why the U.S. should not accede to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
More About the Speakers
The Honorable Mike Lee (R-UT)
Member, United States Senate
Phillip N. Truluck
Chairman, Society of Emeritus Trustees