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Obama Calls for Ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention– But What is He Doing to Secure Senate Approval?

In his West Point Commencement Address  today, President Obama discussed a variety of foreign policy issues. One area that he explored was the importance of international law. And much to my surprise– and pleasure– he expressed frustration that the Senate has not given advice and consent to the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. The President said:

You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example.  We can’t exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else.  We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it’s taking place.  We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security.  That’s not leadership; that’s retreat.  That’s not strength; that’s weakness.  It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

I could not agree more. But expressing frustration with the Senate is different from demonstrating leadership. What is the President going to do to secure Senate advice and consent?

Mare_Liberum

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.