March 1, 2010  

Sign up

TO THE WHITE HOUSE for failing to ratify the international maritime treaty that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations’ use of the world’s oceans and its resources.

The U.S. has thus far shrugged off its need to be bound by such commitments — putting it in the camp of fellow nonratification countries such as Chad, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Rwanda. But rapidly melting Arctic ice gives the treaty a national security significance.

The U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as the treaty is formally known, is redrawing the boundaries of the Arctic. Where now there is yearlong iced “land,” some of which is under U.S. sovereignty, soon there will be summertime open waters rich with untapped energy resources. Only UNCLOS members will have a legal say over those territories; the U.S. risks being excluded from negotiations.

The 2010 QDR expresses “strong support” for U.S. ratification. Almost 160 countries and the E.U. are UNCLOS members; it’s time to join the club.