Kerry Statement at 3rd Law of the Sea Hearing: Republican
Opponents and Proponents
For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 14,
WASHINGTON, DC - Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today chaired a hearing
featuring witness testimony from Republican proponents and
opponents of the Treaty, including former U.S. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of
State John Negroponte, former U.S. Department of State
Legal Adviser John Bellinger, and the Heritage Foundation's
"This afternoon, we have folks with different points
of view on the same panel and have an opportunity to really
dig in," said Chairman Kerry. "Drawing on the two hearings
we've had, I believe that even critics of the Law of the
Sea are beginning to join the consensus that the
navigational bill of rights provided for in the treaty, and
which our military and our shippers rely on every day, are
beneficial to the United States."
This morning, Senator Kerry chaired the second in a
series of Law of the Sea hearings featuring
four Admirals and two Generalssharing the
U.S. Military's perspective on the merits of ratifying the
Chairman Kerry also shared his thoughts ahead of
today's hearings in a blog post on the
Huffington Post, calling the Law of the
Sea Treaty "a treaty that boasts an unprecedented breadth
of support from Republican foreign policy experts, the
United States military, and the hard-nosed, bottom line
American business community."
The full text of Chairman Kerry's opening
statement, as delivered, is below:
Good afternoon and thank you all for coming.
This is our third hearing on the Law of the Sea
Convention, and we're going to have some more after this,
no doubt. And I'm particularly looking forward to this
afternoon, because what I like about it is that we have
folks with different points of view on the same panel and
have an opportunity to really dig in and I hope we will do.
And I think that will be useful to everybody here.
Senator Inhofe, along with a number of other
colleagues, requested that I invite four witnesses to
testify. And so we did. We invited all four. Two of
them-Secretary Rumsfeld and Steven Groves-agreed to join us
today, along with two other distinguished witnesses. And
I'm really happy that all of you could take the time to be
here with us.
Donald Rumsfeld everybody knows is currently
President of the Rumsfeld Foundation and held various, very
senior positions in previous administrations, most recently
serving as Secretary of Defense under President George W.
He is joined by John Negroponte, who is also a
veteran of multiple administrations. Most recently, Mr.
Negroponte served as our first Director of National
Intelligence and then as Deputy Secretary of State in the
George W. Bush Administration. And he's currently Vice
Chairman at McLarty Associates.
I am also pleased to have John Bellinger. From
2001-2005, he served in the White House as Senior Associate
Counsel to President George W. Bush and then as the Legal
Adviser to the National Security Council. From 2005-2009,
he was the Legal Adviser to the State Department. He is now
a partner at the law firm Arnold and Porter.
And finally, rounding out the panel is Steven Groves,
the Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow at the Heritage
Foundation. Mr. Groves was previously senior counsel to the
Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Welcome to all of you.
This morning, we heard a panel from our most senior
operational commanders, along with the Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs and the top officers in the Navy and the Coast
Guard. They added their voices to that of the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, and the
Secretary of State calling for ratification of the Treaty.
We have also heard and we've introduced into the record
letters from many of our combatant commanders, all of whom
strongly support joining the Law of the Sea
I think it is my understanding drawing on the two
hearings we've had that even critics of the Law of the Sea
are beginning to join the consensus that the navigational
bill of rights provided for in the treaty, and which our
military and our shippers rely on every day, are beneficial
to the United States. As I see it, and just listening, I
think the bulk of the debate is not focused on those
navigational provisions but rather on other aspects of the
And I believe personally, and I'm not going to into
this at length as I don't think that would be fair in terms
of my Chairmanship, but I do there are a lot of criticisms
that are inaccurate. What I want to try to do is separate
what's accurate from what's not, so that the Committee
hopefully at the resolution of ratification can deal with
those things that we think we need to deal with.
But let me give you an example of that. The
International Seabed Authority has been accused of being
but is not some bloated UN bureaucracy. It is totally
separate from the United Nations and has a staff of less
than 40. Nothing in its 13 year history suggests that it's
an organization out of control or is somehow going act
inconsistent with U.S. interests, or that in joining the
U.S. will not be able to effectively U.S. its veto in the
ISA Council to advance U.S. interests.
Other criticisms have focus on the royalty
provisions, other things, but I think we need to dig in on
the facts, and I'm going to let that happen.
The one thing I do want to put out here is it's clear
that the original provisions of the 1982 Convention were
not fully consistent with free market principles and would
have disadvantaged our businesses. If I were looking
strictly at the four corners of the 1982 Convention, I
would have had problems, as Ronald Reagan did and others
did. But those problems, I think in most people's judgment,
have been addressed in full.
Bob Stevens, the CEO of Lockheed Martin, recently
wrote to me urging that the Senate pass the Law of the Sea.
And this is what he said:
"[T]he multi-billion dollar investments needed to
establish an ocean-based resource development business must
be predicated upon clear legal rights established and
protected under the treaty-based framework of the LOS
Convention, including the International Seabed Authority
(ISA). Other international players recognize this same
reality and are acting upon it. Countries (including China
and Russia) are moving forward aggressively within the
Treaty framework, and several of these countries currently
hold exploration licenses from the International Seabed
Unfortunately, without ratifying the
[Convention], the United States cannot sponsor claims with,
or shape the deep seabed rules of the ISA. Yet, that is the
critical path forward if the United States intends to
expand and ensure access-for both U.S. commercial and
government interests-to new sources of strategic mineral
I might add that Lockheed is not alone. I recently
received a letter from Rex Tillerson, the head of
ExxonMobil. He expressed ExxonMobil's support for
ratification and said this:
"As an American company engaged in the global
market for energy development, ExxonMobil is interested in
exploring for oil and gas resources that may exist under
the vast new areas that are recognized for sovereignty
purposes under [the Law of the Sea]. The exploration and
development of offshore resources is complicated and
costly, and operating in the extended areas addressed under
[the Law of the Sea] will be even more so. Before
undertaking such immense investments, legal certainty in
the property rights being explored and developed is
I think our business have overwhelmingly made that
point, including the Chamber of Commerce, the American
Petroleum Institute, the Telecommunications Industry
Association, the Chamber of Shipping of America, who just
wrote me to me in support of the Treaty, and I'd like to
enter each of those letters into the record.
In a few weeks, we will have many of these people
here to testify to talk about the economic
They have all studied the treaty and believe that it
is in their interests and in our economic interest to
ratify it. But today we have experts that really understand
the negotiation of the treaty and so forth and we look
forward to a very healthy dialogue and hopefully very
productive results for the Committee.