Courtney Statement On The Verdict In The South China Sea Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement after the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea:
“This ruling makes clear what the United States and its allies in the region already know – that China’s excessive maritime claims and reclamation activity in the South China Sea are not only inconsistent with international law but also highly disruptive to stability of the region,” Courtney said. “In reclaiming more than 3,000 acres of land from the seafloor, militarizing the majority of it, and attempting to partner with landlocked states to write a false narrative justifying their actions, it ought to be clear that China’s actions are jeopardizing the international rules-based order. In light of this binding decision today, China and other stakeholders in the region must work cooperatively and constructively to uphold the rights and responsibilities affirmed under international law.
“I think this is also important to note today that there was one party notably absent during deliberations in this case: the United States. As the United States is one of only a few countries that has not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, our representatives were not allowed to participate in the adjudication process. Undoubtedly, U.S. interests were not served by the rejection of our request to observe these proceedings. This ruling clearly demonstrates why our nation must finally ratify the Law of the Sea treaty, and I continue to call on the Senate to heed the advice experts and military leaders by approving this treaty without delay.”
In March, Courtney along with Rep. Don Young (AK-R) introduced H. Res. 631, a bipartisan resolution urging the Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty (UNCLOS).
Courtney first called for ratification of UNCLOS in a September 2015 op-ed published in Roll Call. Citing the ongoing challenge of addressing China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, as well as ongoing efforts by Russia to make claims in the Arctic, Courtney argued that the United States was damaging its own economic and security interests by joining the convention.
During a full House Armed Services Committee hearing in February, Rep. Courtney had the chance to ask Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN Commander United States Pacific Command, about the need for ratification of UNCLOS.