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Freedom and Opportunity: Foundation for a Dynamic Oceans Policy
It is a pleasure to be with you today to discuss the position of the United States on the Law of the Sea (LOS) as well as our view of the future of oceans law and policy. Our position with regard to the UN convention, as you know, is well settled. I believe it is a very sound one, based on long-recognized principles of international law and upon a deep conviction of our responsibility to promote and protect America's vital interests. And, I must say, our vision of the future is a very positive one. In essence, it is a vision of freedom and of all that freedom both demands and offers. It is a vision of order, of stability, of opportunity, and of prosperity--not only for Americans but for all people who share these goals and who would commit themselves enthusiastically to their pursuit. For that vision--and the policy in which it is embodied--reflects the very ideals and principles that are fundamental to economic growth for all countries, developing and developed alike.
U.S. Position on the Law of the Sea Convention
Perhaps, however, before discussing both the conception and implementation of our national oceans policy it would be helpful--without dwelling on affairs long-since settled and explained--to glance briefly at the past.
As you know only too well, over the past decade we, as a nation, have gone through a period of intense soul-searching and agonizing debate over the role America should play in multilateral efforts to build consensus and reach universal agreement on a comprehensive Law of the Sea Treaty: what national interests were to be recognized and given priority, what were the means by which we would best be able to protect those interests either within the framework of such a convention or in its wake.
It was not an easy period for us by any means, but we have now emerged from it with what I strongly believe is a highly disciplined and widely respected position. We have a firm sense of where we are headed. We have identified and enunciated clearly for all the world our own national priorities and have made equally clear our responsibility to stand by them. At the same time we have expressed our willingness to cooperate with other nations in all ocean-related activities of mutual benefit. I believe that our sincerity in this is recognized, our determination is admired, and our leadership appreciated.
This was not the case prior to 1981. When Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency in January of that year, the United States was on the verge of accepting a treaty which presented a serious threat to its own security, economic, and political interests. The treaty's provisions establishing a deep seabed mining regime were intentionally designed to promote a new world order--a form of global collectivism known as the new international economic order--which ultimately seeks the redistribution of the world's wealth through coercive organizational means. Those provisions were predicated on a distorted interpretation of the noble concept of the Earth's vast oceans as the "common heritage of mankind.' Rather than recognizing the seas as belonging to no nation or individual but open to those willing to take the risk and invest the labor necessary to derive benefit from the abundant resources they contain, many countries sought, instead, to build a regime upon the assumption that every nation shares ownership of the oceans as an undivided property interest. Claiming for themselves the right to be the primary beneficiaries of the seabed regime so constructed, they asserted that each is entitled automatically to a proportionate share of the profit gained by those whose efforts produce wealth from what would otherwise be economically valueless. And to enforce that claimed right, they built into the treaty a regulatory vehicle which permits them to exert virtually unrestrained control over all future deep seabed mining operations.
It has been suggested that the United States agreed to the basic common heritage "principle' during the early stages of the conference and that the Reagan Administration …