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Ratification Questions and Answers on LOS

The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea was modified in 1994 by a legally binding Agreement fixing the deep seabed regime. For seven years the Convention languished in the Senate Foreign Relatons Committee. After Senator Lugar became Chairman, the Committee unanimously voted in favor of approving the Convention. The Convention thereafter was the subject of extensive hearings in 2004 by other relevant Senate committees. This Fall, Senator Biden held two more hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then on October 31, 2007 the Committee voted to approve the treaty 17-4. The next step in the advice and consent process is up to Senate leadership. A judgment will be made whether additional hearings are justified. If not, the leadership may bring the matter to a vote by the full Senate. Senate advice and consent requires concurrence by two-thirds of the Senators present. Thereafter, the President formally ratifies the treaty.

Official Statement from the Department of State on the 10/31/07 Committee Vote:

"We are pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted out the Law of the Sea Convention. This is an important step forward in the Administration's efforts to join this treaty, which the President has urged the Senate to approve during this session of Congress. This Convention has the strong support of United States Federal Agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, and the Interior.

This treaty was a victory for U.S. diplomacy -- the one chapter that President Reagan disliked was modified in 1994 to overcome all his objections. It would serve both our national security interests, as countless current and former U.S. military officials have stated, by assuring navigational rights of our vessels worldwide, as well as our economic and energy interests, as a wide array of U.S. industries have stated. The treaty would secure U.S. sovereign rights over extensive offshore natural resources, including substantial oil and gas resources in the Arctic. The extended continental shelf areas we stand to gain under the treaty are at least twice the size of California.

Joining the Convention is the only viable means of protecting and maximizing our ocean-related interests and the Senate should approve U.S. accession without delay."

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