Preserve strong U.S. influence and leadership in global ocean affairs, and encourage international adherence to concepts that support U.S. interests.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a comprehensive international legal framework governing the world's oceans. Currently, 131 nations are party to the Convention, including all of the major maritime powers (except the U.S.), most of our key allies, and many important nonaligned states. The Convention supports the full range of U.S. interests in ocean activities, law, and policy. It preserves our rights of military mobility in the world's ocean and coastal waters; ensures free movement of global maritime commerce; secures our national jurisdiction over living and nonliving resources off our shores; clarifies our high-seas freedoms for laying cables to support communications; establishes an internationally agreed-upon framework for national efforts in maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection, and marine scientific research; and creates a framework for settling international disputes.
In the late 1980s, there was widespread agreement among the industrialized nations that the Convention's deep-seabed mining regime required basic changes. Recognizing that the Convention would soon enter into force without the U.S. and other major western powers as parties, the Secretary General convened informal negotiations aimed at amending Part XI of the Convention. These negotiations concluded in 1994 with an Implementing Agreement that amends the formerly flawed Part XI and meets all of the specific objections previously expressed by the U.S. and other industrialized nations to the Convention's deep-seabed mining provisions. All sectors of the U.S. ocean community represented at the National Ocean Conference affirmed their support of the Convention, and the President, in his June 12, 1998, keynote speech at the Conference, reasserted that accession to the Convention and ratification of the Implementing Agreement is a high-priority objective of U.S. ocean policy.
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