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Posts Tagged ‘Law of the Sea Convention’

JUST KEEP PUSHING THAT BOULDER UPHILL,  HILL!

Bloomberg News

Clinton Pushes Maritime Code, Trade at APEC Summit in Russia

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan on September 07, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will urge cooperation on resolving regional maritime skirmishes that have escalated over the past year during a visit to Russia for an Asia-Pacific summit.

As President Barack Obama’s representative at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vladivostok, Clinton meets today and tomorrow with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and Russia, all of whom have competing territorial claims with China or each other.

The top U.S. diplomat is wrapping up a six-nation, 11-day tour that garnered mixed results in pressing China and Southeast Asia countries to adopt a framework for negotiations on territorial claims in a region rich in oil and gas. The U.S. is seeking to diffuse conflict in the South China Sea, through which half of the world’s commercial cargo moves.

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None, I repeat, NONE of the difficulty Hillary Clinton has encountered on this Asia tour is necessary.  All of the conflicts she is attempting to settle through multilateral negotiations could have been brought to an international convention for fair adjudication.  Instead,  like a busy little bee (a  really cute one) cross-pollinating frantically,  Secretary Clinton is compelled to buzz from one to another bilateral meeting to try to bring disputes to settlement.  She does so at an extreme disadvantage with no muscle whatsoever because the United States is still not a member of the Law of the Sea Convention (L.O.S.T.)

The Law of the Sea Convention is a body of maritime states that agree to certain stipulates, e.g. maritime borders may extend to as far as 200 miles offshore.  The U.S. has four maritime borders.  Members empower the convention to make decisions as to who may do what where.  Drilling and mining for rare minerals beneath the sea,  minerals used in our precious and necessary technology,  our smart phones and iPads,  is governed by rights to areas of the sea.   Not being members, we have no voice regarding who may encroach upon our own maritime borders nor upon those of our friends and partners e.g. some of the countries Mme. Secretary has visited this week.  This hobbles not only Hillary Clinton in her efforts on her latest journey, but our country going forward in this century, which, of course, is her concern.

We are not members of this convention because our opportunity came to a screeching halt just two months ago when the Tea Party essentially killed ratification of  L.O.S.T. in Congress.

Every day I watch Hillary Clinton work her heart out for this country.  Right now, as I am writing this, she is working so hard to try, from a powerless position, to negotiate settlements by shuttling from one to another delegation.  It is unnecessary.  All of this could easily be settled peacefully before an international body we have  snubbed by not ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Thank the Tea Party for that. 

See How the Tea Party Harpooned Hillary Clinton’s Asia Mission

Meanwhile, our precious Hillary, we appreciate all you are trying to do and all you have done.  Come home safe.  You have not failed in any way anywhere.  Your government-held-captive has failed you.

If you understand what is happening here and disagree with how  Congress, by way of the Tea Party,  has stymied our hard-working Secretary of State and worse, the future of our country and its leading role in world affairs,  lobby your reps and vow to vote them out if they do not RESURRECT L.O.S.T.!

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If you thought the only targets in the Tea Party’s sights were Barack Obama’s birth certificate and college records, please read on. Their actions two months ago made Hillary Clinton’s job on this Asia mission infinitely more frustrating than it needed to be and subjected her to attacks by the Chinese press.

From left, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, Secretary of State Clinton

In the pre-departure State Department briefing  on Secretary Clinton’s current Asia trip, the Senior State Department official (unidentified during the briefing, but probably Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell who did indeed meet up with her in Beijing) stated the following.

We believe that the full range of issues in U.S.-China relations will be discussed, from developments in Asia, developments on the Korean Peninsula, issues associated with peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. We will touch on and deal with challenges associated with the South China Sea. We’ll talk about Iran, obviously developments in Syria, Afghanistan – the full range

The Secretary of State, top diplomat, in dealing with conflicts and disputes, relies, yes, upon her considerable personal  skills of negotiation,  but also upon treaties, memoranda of understanding,  and agreements between and among countries.   We watched her long hard slog, almost from the day she encountered Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, through the hard work their teams put in to formulate the New START Treaty, to the day she quietly, and unofficially showed up on Capitol Hill in December 2010 to celebrate the ratification of that treaty for which she had fought so hard.

Similarly, in this final year of her tenure at State, we have seen her lobby for the ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty (L.O.S.T.).  On May 23 of this year we saw her argue before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that joining the convention was “urgent.”   It was not about achieving a victory for Hillary Clinton.  She never cares who gets the credit as long as the work gets done.  It was about leveling the international playing field.

  • The convention allows countries to claim sovereignty over their continental shelf far out into the ocean, beyond 200 nautical miles from shore. The relevant area for the United States is probably more than 1.5 times the size of Texas.
  • The second development concerns deep seabed mining, which takes place in that part of the ocean floor that is beyond any country’s jurisdiction….   So as long as the United States is outside the convention, our companies are left with two bad choices – either take their deep sea mining business to another country or give up on the idea. Meanwhile, as you heard from Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, China, Russia, and many other countries are already securing their licenses under the convention to begin mining for valuable metals and rare earth elements.
  • The third development that is now urgent is the emerging opportunities in the Arctic. As the area gets warmer, it is opening up to new activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration, shipping, and tourism. This convention provides the international framework to deal with these new opportunities.
  • The fourth development is that the convention’s bodies are now up and running. The body that makes recommendations regarding countries’ continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles is actively considering submissions from over 40 countries without the participation of a U.S. commissioner.

She argued eloquently that day for us to take our seat at the table where maritime disputes worldwide will be settled diplomatically and scoffed at and refuted predictions that this treaty would put our military on black helicopters wearing blue helmets (the argument we have been hearing from the Tea Party since they first co-opted the Gadsden flag) .  Regardless of her logical arguments and the clear benefits of ratification, L.O.S.T.  was killed on July 17 of this year perhaps never to be revived.  Here is how it was deep-sixed.

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2012 05:22 PM EDT

Tea Party torpedoes Law of Sea Treaty

How the far right managed to kill a naval treaty that nearly everyone else supported

By

What if there were a piece of legislation in Congress today that had broad bipartisan support along with the strong backing of the military and the most powerful business interests in the country? That seems almost unheard of in today’s polarized world, so it should sail through Congress, right? Well, 34 senators, led by Tea Party hero Jim DeMint of South Carolina, effectively killed it last night. The Law of the Sea Treaty (which goes by the unfortunate acronym LOST) would codify a host of international navigational, territorial and mineral exploration rules that the country has abided by since the Reagan administration. But a faction of Tea Party senators have secured enough opposition to stop the treaty before it even makes it to the Senate floor.
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Fast-forward to yesterday and the Chinese press greeting our top diplomat.

Hillary Clinton arrives in China to stinging personal attacks in state media

September 5, 2012

BEIJING

US and China remain at impasse over Syria and tension persists over long-running territorial wrangle in South China Sea

Personal and stinging attacks in the state media heralded the US secretary of state‘s arrival in Beijing. “Many people in China dislike Hillary Clinton,” said an editorial in the state-run Global Times. “She has brought new and extremely profound mutual distrust between the mainstream societies of the two countries.” Such stringent remarks were extremely unusual on the eve of a visit by a US secretary of state, noted Shi Yinhong, an expert on the bilateral relationship.

While Clinton’s press conference with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi was more civil, it suggested no sign of movement on key issues. The two countries remain at an impasse over Syria and tension persists over the complicated and long-running territorial wrangle in the South China Sea, involving China and numerous other regional powers.

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Hillary Clinton targeted in anti-U.S. Chinese editorials

  • By Alexander Abad-Santos
Hillary Clinton met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing Tuesday. Hillary Clinton met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing Tuesday. Jim Watson/AP

Hillary Clinton arrived in China on Tuesday, in what’s likely to be her last trip there as Secretary of State, but that milestone didn’t stop China’s state-run media outlets from printing scathing editorials about her and the U.S.’s growing unpopularity in the country. “Many Chinese people do not like Hillary Clinton, her personal antipathy to the Chinese public …” reads (via Google translation) an editorial in China’s nationalist newspaper Global Times, entitled “Secretary Clinton: the person who deeply reinforces US-China mutual suspicion.” The editorial goes on to read (via a translation from NBC News’s Ed Flanagan), “She makes the Chinese public dislike and be wary of the United States, which does not necessarily serve U.S. foreign policy interests.” Well, that’s pretty blunt. What upsets the Chinese government has been President Obama’s newfound focus on the Asia-Pacific region, which means more attention is paid toward China and its territorial disputes in the South China Sea. And Clinton, despite enjoying her highest popularity ratings stateside, has become the bullseye for unhappy Chinese nationalists even if she won’t be continuing her role as the country’s top diplomat–Clinton has said she was retiring at the end of this year. (We probably shouldn’t tell them about the VP rumors.) Xinhua, the country’s state-run news service was at least bit more diplomatic about being undiplomatic, with an editorial that read (via a New York Times translation), “The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings.”

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Hillary Clinton is accustomed to  attacks.  It is doubtful that any of this bothered her on a personal level, but the fact that the U.S. has no commissioner at the Law of the Sea convention makes it far more difficult for her to negotiate in favor of our friends and partners in maritime disputes with China over territorial rights.  We have no voice in this international body.  So as China expands its borders and sea shelf while disparaging our top diplomat and sneering at her efforts, we have the Tea Party to thank.  They effectively trapped her in a lobster-cage.

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Readers here know,  it’s right there in the sidebar, the importance Hillary Clinton invested in ratification of the Law of the Sea Treat (LOST).  She testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 23 of this year calling ratification “urgent” if the U.S. is to have  equal footing on a level playing field in conflicts arising over jurisdictions with regard to offshore drilling and mining.  Ratification would permit us to extend our own continental shelf 200 miles – we have four of them!   But Rachel Maddow  last hour reported, as her blog explains,  that the GOP has likely killed the ratification that would have boosted our economy and strengthened our position both in the global economy and militarily on the high seas.  According to the blog post, the last two “nails in the coffin” were Senators Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte – names in the news as possible Veep choices for Mitt Romney.   Goes to show you, the Republicans can be transparent … it is possible.  Stunning considering the long list of Republicans who supported ratification.  Ambition, apparently knows no party loyalty – or common sense!

GOP appears to have killed Law of the Sea Treaty

 –
Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:37 AM EDT
Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr

It’s become extremely difficult — far more difficult than any point in American history — for Congress to pass legislation. But treaties are even harder, since they require 67 votes for passage. Even if every member of the Democratic caucus backs a treaty, it would need 14 Republicans to go along, and in this Congress, that’s an implausibly high number.

This is particularly relevant this week because of the Law of the Sea Treaty, negotiated 18 years ago, and ratified by 161 countries around the globe. Here in the U.S., it’s been endorsed by the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, business leaders, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, and specifically U.S. Navy leaders who, as Josh Rogin explained, see the measure as necessary “to allow the United States to fully participate in the growing multinational system that governs the open seas.”

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We are an Arctic nation.  Our intrepid SOS is there to establish our concerns and presence in the region.  Her work would be so much easier if we would join the Law of the Sea  (LOST) Convention where we have a reserved seat.

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The Law of the Sea Convention (Treaty Doc. 103-39): The U.S. National Security and Strategic Imperatives for Ratification

Testimony

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC
May 23, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar. After both of your opening comments, I think you’ve made the case both eloquently and persuasively for anyone who is willing to look at the facts. I am well aware that this treaty does have determined opposition, limited but nevertheless quite vociferous. And it’s unfortunate because it’s opposition based in ideology and mythology, not in facts, evidence, or the consequences of our continuing failure to accede to the treaty. So I think you’ll hear, from both Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey as well as myself, further statements and information that really reinforces the very strong points that both of you have made.We believe that it is imperative to act now. No country is better served by this convention than the United States. As the world’s foremost maritime power, we benefit from the convention’s favorable freedom of navigation provisions. As the country with the world’s second longest coastline, we benefit from its provisions on offshore natural resources. As a country with an exceptionally large area of seafloor, we benefit from the ability to extend our continental shelf, and the oil and gas rights on that shelf. As a global trading power, we benefit from the mobility that the convention accords to all commercial ships. And as the only country under this treaty that was given a permanent seat on the group that will make decisions about deep seabed mining, we will be in a unique position to promote our interests.

Now, the many benefits of this convention have attracted a wide-ranging coalition of supporters. Obviously, as we heard from both Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, Republican and Democratic presidents have supported U.S. accession; military leaders who see the benefits for our national security; American businesses, including, strongly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, see the economic benefits. It has the support of every affected industry, including shipping, fisheries, telecommunications and energy, environmental groups as well. We have a coalition of environmental, conservation, business, industry, and security groups all in support of this convention.

And I would ask that my longer written statement along with the letters that I have received in support of the treaty be entered into the record.

CHAIRMAN KERRY: Without objection.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Now, one could argue, that 20 years ago, 10 years ago, maybe even five years ago, joining the convention was important but not urgent. That is no longer the case today. Four new developments make our participation a matter of utmost security and economic urgency.

First, for years, American oil and gas companies were not technologically ready to take advantage of the convention’s provisions regarding the extended U.S. continental shelf. Now they are. The convention allows countries to claim sovereignty over their continental shelf far out into the ocean, beyond 200 nautical miles from shore. The relevant area for the United States is probably more than 1.5 times the size of Texas. In fact, we believe it could be considerably larger.

U.S. oil and gas companies are now ready, willing, and able to explore this area. But they have made it clear to us that they need the maximum level of international legal certainty before they will or could make the substantial investments, and, we believe, create many jobs in doing so needed to extract these far-offshore resources. If we were a party to the convention, we would gain international recognition of our sovereign rights, including by using the convention’s procedures, and therefore be able to give our oil and gas companies this legal certainty. Staying outside the convention, we simply cannot.

The second development concerns deep seabed mining, which takes place in that part of the ocean floor that is beyond any country’s jurisdiction. Now for years, technological challenges meant that deep seabed mining was only theoretical; today’s advances make it very real. But it’s also very expensive, and before any company will explore a mine site, it will naturally insist on having a secure title to the site and the minerals that it will recover. The convention offers the only effective mechanism for gaining this title. But only a party to the convention can use this mechanism on behalf of its companies.

So as long as the United States is outside the convention, our companies are left with two bad choices – either take their deep sea mining business to another country or give up on the idea. Meanwhile, as you heard from Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, China, Russia, and many other countries are already securing their licenses under the convention to begin mining for valuable metals and rare earth elements. And as you know, rare earth elements are essential for manufacturing high-tech products like cell phones and flat screen televisions. They are currently in tight supply and produced almost exclusively by China. So while we are challenging China’s export restrictions on these critical materials, we also need American companies to develop other sources. But as it stands today, they will only do that if they have the secure rights that can only be provided under this convention. If we expect to be able to manage our own energy future and our need for rare earth minerals, we must be a party to the Law of the Sea Convention.

The third development that is now urgent is the emerging opportunities in the Arctic. As the area gets warmer, it is opening up to new activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration, shipping, and tourism. This convention provides the international framework to deal with these new opportunities. We are the only Arctic nation outside the convention. Russia and the other Arctic states are advancing their continental shelf claims in the Arctic while we are on the outside looking in. As a party to the convention, we would have a much stronger basis to assert our interests throughout the entire Arctic region.

The fourth development is that the convention’s bodies are now up and running. The body that makes recommendations regarding countries’ continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles is actively considering submissions from over 40 countries without the participation of a U.S. commissioner. The body addressing deep seabed mining is now drawing up the rules to govern the extraction of minerals of great interest to the United States and American industry. It simply should not be acceptable to us that the United States will be absent from either of those discussions.

Our negotiators obtained a permanent U.S. seat on the key decision-making body for deep seabed mining. I know of no other international body that accords one country and one country alone – us – a permanent seat on its decision making body. But until we join, that reserved seat remains empty.

So those are the stakes for our economy. And you will hear from Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey that our security interests are intrinsically linked to freedom of navigation. We have much more to gain from legal certainty and public order in the world’s oceans than any other country. U.S. Armed Forces rely on the navigational rights and freedoms reflected in the convention for worldwide access to get to combat areas, sustain our forces during conflict, and return home safely all without permission from other countries.

Now as a non-party to the convention, we rely – we have to rely – on what is called customary international law as a legal basis for invoking and enforcing these norms. But in no other situation at which – in which our security interests are at stake do we consider customary international law good enough to protect rights that are vital to the operation of the United States military. So far we’ve been fortunate, but our navigational rights and our ability to challenge other countries’ behavior should stand on the firmest and most persuasive legal footing available, including in critical areas such as the South China Sea.

I’m sure you have followed the claims countries are making in the South China Sea. Although we do not have territory there, we have vital interests, particularly freedom of navigation. And I can report from the diplomatic trenches that as a party to the convention, we would have greater credibility in invoking the convention’s rules and a greater ability to enforce them.

Now, I know a number of you have heard arguments opposing the convention. And let me just address those head-on. Critics claim we would surrender U.S. sovereignty under this treaty. But in fact, it’s exactly the opposite. We would secure sovereign rights over vast new areas and resources, including our 200-mile exclusive economic zone and vast continental shelf areas extending off our coasts and at least 600 miles off Alaska. I know that some are concerned that the treaty’s provisions for binding dispute settlement would impinge on our sovereignty. We are no stranger to similar provisions, including in the World Trade Organization which has allowed us to bring trade cases; many of them currently pending against abusers around the world. As with the WTO, the U.S. has much more to gain than lose from this proposition by being able to hold others accountable under clear and transparent rules.

Some critics invoke the concern we would be submitting to mandatory technology transfer and cite President Reagan’s other initial objections to the treaty. Those concerns might have been relevant decades ago, but today they are not. In 1994, negotiators made modifications specifically to address each of President Reagan’s objections, including mandatory technology transfer, which is why President Reagan’s own Secretary of State, George Shultz, has since written we should join the convention in light of those modifications having been made.

Now some continue to assert we do not need to join the convention for U.S. companies to drill beyond 200 miles or to engage in deep seabed mining. That’s not what the companies say. So I find it quite ironic, in fact somewhat bewildering that a group, an organization, an individual would make a claim that is refuted by every major company in every major sector of the economy who stands to benefit from this treaty. Under current circumstances, they are very clear. They will not take on the cost and risk these activities under uncertain legal frameworks. They need the indisputable, internationally recognized rights available under the treaty. So please, listen to these companies, not to those who have other reasons or claims that are not based on the facts. These companies are refuting the critics who say, “Go ahead, you’ll be fine.” But they’re not the ones – the critics – being asked to invest tens of millions of dollars without the legal certainty that comes with joining the convention.

Now some mischaracterize the payments for the benefit of resource rights beyond 200 miles as quote “a UN tax” – and this is my personal favorite of the arguments against the treaty – that will be used to support state sponsors of terrorism. Honestly, I don’t know where these people make these things up, but anyway the convention does not contain or authorize any such taxes. Any royalty fee does not go to the United Nations; it goes into a fund for distribution to parties of the convention. And we, were we actually in the convention, would have a permanent veto power over how the funds are distributed. And we could prevent them from going anywhere we did not want them to go. I just want to underscore – this is simple arithmetic. If we don’t join the convention, our companies will miss out on opportunities to explore vast areas of continental shelf and deep seabed. If we do join the convention, we unlock economic opportunities worth potentially hundreds of billions of dollars, for a small percentage royalty a few years down the line.

I’ve also heard we should not join this convention because quote “it’s a UN treaty.” And of course that means the black helicopters are on their way. Well, the fact that a treaty was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations, which is after all a convenient gathering place for the countries of the world, has not stopped us from joining agreements that are in our interests. We are a party to dozens of agreements negotiated under the UN auspices on everything from counter-terrorism and law enforcement to health, commerce, and aviation. And we often pay fees under those treaties recognizing the benefits we get dwarf those minimal fees.

And on the national security front, some argue we would be handing power over the U.S. Navy to an international body. Patently untrue, obviously absolutely contrary to any history or law governing our navy. None of us would be sitting here if there were even a chance that you could make the most absurd argument that could possibly lead to that conclusion. Disputes concerning U.S. military activities are clearly excluded from dispute settlement under the convention.

And neither is it true that the convention would prohibit intelligence activities. The intelligence community has once again in 2012, as it did in 2007, as it did in 2003, confirmed that is absolutely not true.

So whatever arguments may have existed for delaying U.S. accession no longer exist and truly cannot be even taken with a straight face. The benefits of joining have always been significant, but today the costs of not joining are increasing. So much is at stake, and I therefore urge the Committee to listen to the experts, listen to our businesses, listen to the Chamber of Commerce, listen to our military, and please give advice and consent to this treaty before the end of this year. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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Video Remarks to Pew Business Roundtable on Law of the Sea Convention

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 16, 2011

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to this roundtable and once again voice my support for joining the Law of the Sea Convention. Signing onto the Convention is critical to protecting American security and enhancing our economic strength.Joining the Convention would put America’s resource rights on firm legal footing, protecting American business interests and helping those businesses stay competitive internationally. The Convention provides legal certainty and predictability that businesses can rely on, empowering them to pursue ventures that they would not be able to undertake otherwise.

For example, Chinese, Indian, and Russian companies are exploring deep seabeds for rare earth elements and valuable metals, but the United States cannot sponsor our companies to do the same. Joining the Convention will level the playing field for American companies so they have the same rights and opportunities as their competitors.

Past administrations – both Republican and Democratic – the United States military, and industry and environmental groups have all together signaled strong support for joining the Convention. It is a key piece of unfinished business. And I’m confident that the United States will soon do what over 160 other countries have already done and join the Law of the Sea Convention. Thanks to all of you for helping to make this a reality.

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