The Global Citizen: Law of the Sea Treaty
Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have released their official party platforms for 2012, they can be compared side-by-side. We've done all of the legwork for you and have summarized their main stances on a number of issues. Hyperlinks are included and they will take you to the pertinent section of that party's platform if you want to read the actual text.
Update September 6: Changes made on the floor of the Democratic Convention have resulted in the platform stating that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the status of Jerusalem as an Israeli holding is a condition for any peace talks.
It was a bad and sad day for Indiana on Tuesday.
Senator Richard Lugar not only lost in the Republican primary; Tea Party extremists did their best to humiliate America's finest public servant. A few even trespassed onto the senator's farm and put up the obnoxious "Retire Lugar" campaign signs that popped up like weeds across our state this spring.
Through his work on the school board and as Indianapolis mayor, Lugar set the stage for the remaking of the Indiana capital city into a major, world class city. As senator, he made Indiana a better state, but also globally important.
As an Indiana Republican, Senator Lugar made the party a powerhouse, but often saved the GOP from its worst excesses. The man once known as Nixon's favorite mayor was now deemed too moderate for a strong majority of Indiana Republicans.
Here is what some other, more graceful, Hoosiers posted on facebook on Tuesday night:
Kiel, Terre Haute, IN: Thanks for 36 years of representing Indiana well on a global stage, helping end apartheid and all of that.
Gabe, Columbus, IN: Lugar stood up to the hawks in the Reagan administration to demand the President break with the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.
Dave, Indianapolis, IN: Sad day for the hungry, a sad day for our nation. Democracy is about talking with one another, not shouting at others.
Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his Republican primary yesterday to Tea Party backed conservative Richard Mourdock, after more than 35 years in the Senate. His defeat is not just a defeat for Lugar and his supporters, but a defeat for American national security and indeed the entire world. In the words of fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator John Kerry, "It will soon almost sound cliché to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar's 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating."
Lugar's challenger, Richard Mourdock, said in his victory speech, that his campaign was about ideas for the future of both the Republican Party and our nation as a whole. Unfortunately, Mourdock's win is part of a disturbing pattern of election victories for Tea Party ideas, of unilateralists over more moderate, internationally minded Republicans.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a statement earlier today calling for disputes between China and the Philippines over resources in the South China Sea to be resolved according to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The statement supports Philippine claims that they have the right to explore oil resources within 370 kilometers of their shore. Philippine officials allege Chinese naval vessels have interfered with such exploration, as Beijing asserts that they have historical rights to virtually all of the South China Sea. While the U.S. does not formally take sides in the competing claims of the two nations over the oil and mineral rich body of water, Clinton affirmed that no nation should be able to force its will through coercion or intimidation.
Last week I spoke to members of the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) who were preparing to lobby their members of Congress. I was asked to give a 30,000 foot overview of the political climate on the Hill regarding the UN, an update on the U.S. role at the Human Rights Council and the status of ratification of the Law of the Sea convention, CEDAW and the Rights of the Child treaty. Take a look at the presentation and let me know if you have any questions.
Getting two-thirds of the Senate to agree on anything is a daunting task. So it was no small feat when the Senate approved New START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, during its December lame duck session. New START was the first major international agreement passed by the Senate since the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997.
The United States is a bit schizophrenic when it comes to treaties. The U.S. government does a great job negotiating them. From the International Criminal Court to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, U.S. diplomats have forged very constructive compromises on major human rights and security agreements. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has a history of letting these accords molder. The Senate and the White House still have a long list of treaties that are overdue for ratification.
Much can be learned from the successful passage of this treaty. Here are seven lessons for policymakers to consider as they move forward.
With the new year beginning, this is the time when Citizens for Global Solutions would normally prepare our Congressional Report Card to rate members of Congress on global issue. The CGS Report Card analyzes voting records on issues ranging from genocide prevention to nuclear nonproliferation to funding for the international affairs budget.
But this year, we’ve come to the sad conclusion that there isn’t going to be a Report Card. Why not? Because Congress didn’t do enough on record last year to warrant one.
The island nation of Tuvalu has less than 10 square miles of total actual land area. Those ten square miles of land area hold the 12,000 residents of this tiny nation. Lately, environmentalists around the world have been infatuated with Tuvalu. But why? Tuvalu's islands are mere feet above sea level and the slightest increase in sea level threatens life on the islands. Increases in sea level are caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. Close to Tuvalu, the Federated States of Micronesia have dealt with similar troubles. The Federated States of Micronesia already had to declare a national emergency last year due to a rise in sea levels. The government spent more than 7 percent of its budget and $42 million to bring rice and drinking water to the islands. Taro, one of the staple foods on the island had been impossible to grow due to the increase in sea levels and rising high tides as the soil has been soured and the aquifer heavily salted. Unfortunately, Tuvalu may be in the same dire straits.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had a meeting about U.S. Ocean Governance on March 8, 2010. The meeting, which began as a general ocean governance discussion, quickly became focused on the Law of the Sea Treaty. Moderator, Scott Borgerson of CFR at one point said "this wasn't intended originally to be the Law of the Sea party, but as the author of the report outside the door titled The National Interests and the Law of the Sea, I can't lie that it doesn't warm my heart a little bit."
The meeting began with a showing of the Council on Foreign Relation new interactive Web Oceans Governance Monitor. CLICK HERE to watch the remarkable video.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island stated: "As the wonderful video said, the oceans really are the dominant resource of our planet, and we've paid far too little attention to it. The economic theory of the tragedy of the commons is being worked out on the ocean at a massive scale, and we see it in the changes that the ocean is undergoing. It's rising. It's warming. It's enduring biological changes as it rises and warms. It is continuing to be bombarded with pollution, and it's facing chemical changes. That's a lot all at once for this resource"
This weekend, the Executive Office of the President sent its first signal of support for US ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, joined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen published an article in the Seattle times on the topic of stewardship of the Oceans in which they strongly endorsed the ratification of the treaty:
"We strongly support ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The oceans have been called, "the last global commons," and their sustained global health can best be maintained by a stable, universally accepted convention that promotes the key interests of the United States, its allies and its trading partners. Ratification would ensure our ability to participate in interpreting and applying the convention to the changing realities of the global maritime environment and preserves our ability to protect our domestic interests, including our extended continental shelf claims."
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