Tide turns against Law of the Sea Treaty

The Obama administration's all-out push to join the United Nations international maritime treaty is just four votes short of being doomed after two more senators this week added their names to the list of lawmakers who have vowed to oppose it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are the two latest senators to sign on to the letter, The Hill has learned, bringing the total to 30. Treaties need a two-thirds majority to pass in the Senate, meaning 34 signatures would effectively kill it.

Accession to the treaty is championed by a powerful coalition that includes the U.S. Navy, the business community and the oil industry but that hasn't been enough to assuage concerns that the convention would impinge on U.S. sovereignty. 

“We are writing to let you know that we believe this Convention reflects political, economic, and ideological assumptions which are inconsistent with American values and sovereignty,” reads the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The administration says Republicans' concerns are misplaced.

The full letter is below:

The Honorable Harry Reid

Majority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Mr. Leader,


We understand that Chairman Kerry has renewed his efforts to pursue Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We are writing to let you know that we believe this Convention reflects political, economic, and ideological assumptions which are inconsistent with American values and sovereignty.

By its current terms, the Law of the Sea Convention encompasses economic and technology interests in the deep sea, redistribution of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations, freedom of navigation in the deep sea and exclusive economic zones which may impact maritime security, and environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution.

To effect the treaty’s broad regime of governance, we are particularly concerned that United States sovereignty could be subjugated in many areas to a supranational government that is chartered by the United Nations under the 1982 Convention. Further, we are troubled that compulsory dispute resolution could pertain to public and private activities including law enforcement, maritime security, business operations, and nonmilitary activities performed aboard military vessels.

If this treaty comes to the floor, we will oppose its ratification.

Sincerely yours,


Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)

David Vitter (R-La.)

Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

John Cornyn (R-Texas)

Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)

Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Jim Risch (R-Idaho)

Mike Lee (R-Utah)

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

John Thune (R-S.D.)

Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

Dan Coats (R-Ind.)

John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)

Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Pat Toomey (R-Penn.)

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)