Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Law of sea treaty opponent softening?

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl seems to have taken a different tack with regard to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Obama Administration has begun a push toward ratification amid news of tension in the South China Sea.
Five A-list Republicans – former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker III, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice – published a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on May 30. Title: “Time to Join the Law of the Sea Treaty.”
And so on Monday Kyl, an Arizona Republican who bears boundless antipathy to international institutions, said in an American Enterprise Institute speech:
‘Congress could enact a statute that makes the navigational parts of the treaty, which codify the historical practice of seafaring nations, the law of the land. Then the Senate need not ratify the treaty, which still contains unacceptable provisions, including issues related to the exploitation of the seabed. A statute, in effect, can separate the wheat from the chaff. And the United States will contribute to the clarification of customary international law, by contributing its practices and legal opinions on the law of the sea.’
Legislation alone is not ratification. And Kyl’s speech was couched in swipes against transnationalism and one of its proponents, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh.
Nevertheless, the quotes suggests that tides are turning on this longstanding U.S. ratification dispute.
(credit for image above left to UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea)

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