Cetacean Society International
Whales Alive! - Vol. XVI No. 3 - July 2007
UN Law of the Sea Treaty Resurfaces
By Robbins Barstow, CSI Director Emeritus
In a welcome move that has tremendous potential significance for both the environment and our national security, President Bush on May 15 released a statement urging the Senate to act favorably on U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
For 25 years, the United States has refused to join virtually the entire rest of the world in recognizing the overriding value and importance of becoming party to this global treaty.
I was in the balcony at the United Nations in New York on the day in April 1982 when the text of the Treaty was approved by a vote of 130 in favor, 4 against (including the United States!), and 17 abstentions. As a long-time advocate for saving whales, I was especially interested in the inclusion in Article 65 of the specific provision that: "States shall cooperate with a view to the conservation of marine mammals and in the case of cetaceans shall in particular work through the appropriate international organizations for their conservation, management and study."
Now it is high time for the United States to sign on to this historic Law of the Sea Convention to protect our interests in the international governance of the world's oceans, which belong to no one nation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must schedule a hearing as soon as possible so that the full Senate can consider the treaty before the August recess.