On June 8th, countries around the globe will celebrate World Oceans Day. This year, the United States should send a powerful signal to the world that we care about ocean conservation and are ready to be a leader within the international community by signing on to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or simply the Law of the Sea Treaty, was completed in 1982 and went into effect in 1994. So far, 158 nations and the European Union have joined. This includes every major industrialized nation except the United States. The treaty establishes a comprehensive set of rules governing the use and conservation of the world's oceans, including the airspace above and the seabed and subsoil below. It balances the interests of states in controlling activities off their own coasts and the interests of all states in international waters. Urge the president and Congress to make ratifying the Law of the Sea a priority this year.
Today, 158 nations and the European Union are party to the Law of the Sea Convention. The Convention went into effect in 1994 and includes every major industrialized nation except the United States. The U.S. has already adopted many of the aspects of the Law of the Sea through executive action but has never become a full party to the treaty. With so many critical marine issues before the international community, it is time for the U.S. to step off the sidelines and fully participate in the important decisions affecting global marine sustainability.
Accession to the Law of the Sea is an essential step toward ensuring U.S. economic, sovereignty, and security interests. This is evident from the broad range of stakeholders supporting U.S. accession to the treaty, including military leaders, the U.S. Navy, conservation organizations, academic and research institutions, and marine-related industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, American Chemistry Council, International Association of Drilling Contractors, National Oceans Industries Association, and National Marine Manufacturers Association.
It is past time for the U.S. to join the rest of the world and become party to this fundamental international agreement. Please demonstrate that the U.S. cares about the safe and sustainable use of our oceans and is ready to assume its leadership role in the international community.
I ask you to actively support the Convention on the Law of the Sea and to work to ensure its ratification by the U.S. Senate without further delay.