Dems urge treaty ratification after South China Sea ruling

Dems urge treaty ratification after South China Sea ruling
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Seventeen Democrats from the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, including both ranking members, are urging the Senate to ratify a United Nations treaty in the wake of a court ruling on claims in the South China Sea. 

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The group said Tuesday that the upper chamber should ratify a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) treaty to protect American interests. 

“The United States Senate should take steps to do what the past three presidents, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have long requested: to ratify UNCLOS and to protect U.S. interests by ensuring that the United States is a full and participating party to this important international agreement,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

The statement comes in response to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague’s ruling against China’s claims in the South China Sea. The suit was brought by the Philippines, which argued that China violated its sovereign rights with excessive claims.

The basis for the ruling was UNCLOS, which 167 countries and the European Union are party to. The treaty, reached in 1982, sets the rights and responsibilities of nations’s use of the world's oceans and their natural resources.

The United States follows provisions of the treaty as part of following customary international law. But opponents of ratification say there are other provisions that are against U.S. interests.

Supporters of the treaty say without it, the United States has no leverage to make China comply with the court ruling.

In addition to urging the treaty’s ratification, the Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday’s ruling provides opportunities for other claimants in the South China Sea.

“Following the Tribunal’s decision, we hope that all claimants will renew their efforts to resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea in a manner that is peaceful and consistent with international law,” they said.

Governments in the Asia-Pacific region will also have to decide whether to continue following the rules, norms and respect for international law after the ruling.

“The ruling also presents an opportunity for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to speak with one voice on a matter of deep political and strategic importance, not just to the Philippines, but to the its entire membership,” the lawmakers said.

The statement was issued by Democratic Reps. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE (Wash.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee; Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Loretta Sanchez (Calif.); Jim Langevin (R.I.); Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenTransportation Department watchdog to examine airplane cabin evacuation standards Dems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (Wash.); Del. Madeleine BordalloMadeleine Mary BordalloOvernight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks 5 things to know about Guam Guam delegate: Constituents 'very concerned' about North Korea threat MORE (Guam); Joe Courtney (Conn.); John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (Calif.); Jackie Speier (Calif.); Brad Sherman (Calif.); Gregory Meeks (N.Y.); Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDem on Puerto Rico and Trump: ‘God only knows’ what he'd consider a failure Congress losing faith in Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence MORE (Va.); Ted Deutch (Fla.); Bill Keating (Mass.); Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraDem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms Bipartisan group of lawmakers seeks rules changes under next Speaker By reversing course on Ebola funding, Trump brings compromise MORE (Calif.); Alan Lowenthal (Calif.); and Joaquín Castro (Texas).