Law of the Sea Convention Remains in Supply Chain Limbo
June 19, 2012
As the U.S. Senate continues its debate on ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention – a little known United Nations treaty governing international waterways – ocean cargo shipping specialists contend the issue is becoming stale.
“Having been approved by several U.S. presidents from both major political parties, we don’t understand the resistance to the convention,” said World Shipping Council (WSC) president, Chris Koch, in an interview. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among a diverse group of entities championing its resolution. And according to Koch, supply chain managers will hardly feel the impact of such a treaty. “Essentially, it represents an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to global leadership, international law, and multilateralism without altering many of our current practices,” he said. “The downside is hard to quantify.”
At the same time, the debate is getting far more mainstream media play than it deserves, said Koch. Bruce Carlton, president of the National Industrial Transportation League, (NITL) agrees:
“I’ve been working on Capitol Hill for 40 years, and the pro and con arguments still rage on,” he said. “The League does not have a formal position on the issue, but we are not concerned that ratification will shut down world shipping. Admittedly, the U.S. will be giving up a slice of its sovereignty, but ocean carriers operate in a global marketplace where international law has prevailed all along.”
Meanwhile, both Koch and Carlton said supply chain managers should be more concerned with pending regulations emanating from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that may have a profound affect on how goods are moved by sea in the future.
Among those favoring U.S. ratification is the Pew Charitable Trusts, which maintains that the Law of the Sea Convention ensures international stability and peaceful use of the world’s seas and oceans by governing all activities on, over and under international waters.
“Closely examined, one can see that the treaty clearly defines its signatories’ rights to offshore fishing, deep sea mining and navigation, while sustaining ocean resources for future generations,” says Pew. “The treaty also guarantees the global mobility of United States armed forces and provides clearly defined laws for countries to follow in order to prevent international military incidents.”
Pew spokesmen also noted that that 161 countries and the European Union have ratified the Treaty, while only 35 nations, including the United States, Libya and North Korea, have not. Spokesmen added that the U.S. would be the single largest beneficiary of the Law of the Sea Treaty because
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