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Obama’s new National Security Strategy calls for ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention

When I began blogging in 2005, one of my first posts called for the ratification of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. Since 1994, there has been wide-spread support for the ratification of the Convention, including from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It is thus no surprise that the recent National Security Strategy produced by the Obama Administration calls for the Convention’s ratification. The pertinent section reads:

Safeguarding the Global Commons: Across the globe, we must work in concert with allies and partners to optimize the use of shared sea, air, and space domains. These shared areas, which exist outside exclusive national jurisdictions, are the connective tissue around our globe upon which all nations’ security and prosperity depend. The United States will continue to help safeguard access, promote security, and ensure the sustainable use of resources in these domains. These efforts require strong multilateral cooperation, enhanced domain awareness and monitoring, and the strengthening of international norms and standards.

We must work together to ensure the constant flow of commerce, facilitate safe and secure air travel, and prevent disruptions to critical communications. We must also safeguard the sea, air, and space domains from those who would deny access or use them for hostile purposes. This includes keeping strategic straits and vital sea lanes open, improving the early detection of emerging maritime threats, denying adversaries hostile use of the air domain, and ensuring the responsible use of space. As one key effort in the sea domain, for example, we will pursue ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Many of these goals are equally applicable to cyberspace. While cyberspace relies on the digital infrastructure of individual countries, such infrastructure is globally connected, and securing it requires global cooperation. We will push for the recognition of norms of behavior in cyberspace, and otherwise work with global partners to ensure the protection of the free flow of information and our continued access. At all times, we will continue to defend our digital networks from intrusion and harmful disruption.

Arctic Interests: The United States is an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic region, where we seek to meet our national security needs, protect the environment, responsibly manage resources, account for indigenous communities, support scientific research, and strengthen international cooperation on a wide range of issues. (emphasis added)

We can only hope that the Senate can move quickly to give its approval and the President can ratify.

(HT: Caitlyn Antrim)

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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.