Murkowski Reintroduces Resolution Calling on U.S. Senate to Ratify Law of the Sea

Washington, DC – Yesterday, on the 29th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) entering into force, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a resolution calling on the U.S. Senate to ratify UNCLOS. UNCLOS, which has been ratified by 168 nations and the European Union, details the rights and responsibilities of countries regarding the world’s oceans, including guidelines for businesses and the management of marine natural resources, and provides a legal framework to protect those rights while avoiding conflict.

“The longer we sit out, the longer the rest of world will continue to set the agenda of maritime domain, from seabed mining to critical subsea infrastructure,” said Arctic Caucus Co-Chair Senator Murkowski. “Ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty will help us keep China’s illegal territorial advances at bay in the South China and is also critical to our national interest in the maritime domain, especially as other Arctic nations look to define their rights to seabed areas beyond their existing exclusive economic zones. It is time for America to not just join the world at the table, but to make sure we are helping to set the rules going forward.”

UNCLOS is a comprehensive legal framework governing all uses of the world’s oceans and seas, and their resources. It also allows for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea. It is the globally recognized framework for dealing with all matters relating to the law of the sea, governing areas including, but not limited to, environmental control, marine scientific research, economic and commercial activities, and the settlement of disputes relating to ocean matters.

The treaty was opened for signature on December 10, 1982 and was entered into force on November 16, 1994. The United States signed UNCLOS on July 29, 1994, but the U.S. Senate has not yet voted to ratify the treaty, despite urging from environmental, scientific, labor, and industry organizations. This resolution has been previously introduced by Senators Murkowski and Hirono in the 116th and 117th Congresses.

Senators Hirono and Kaine have joined Senator Murkowski as the lead on the resolution, and Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have joined on as co-sponsors.