Who Needs the Law of the Sea Convention? U.S. Signs Maritime Boundary Agreement With Kiribati

by Julian Ku

20130906_us_kiribati_map OK, I have to admit I was not familiar with the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati before reading this article, but I was heartened to learn that the U.S. signed a maritime boundary treaty with it on Friday.  Sometimes supporters of U.S. ratification suggest that it would be almost impossible to work with Law of the Sea signatories like Kiribati if the U.S. doesn’t join, but this actually doesn’t apply to most maritime boundaries.  Put another way, joining the Law of the Sea Convention won’t make it easier to resolve ongoing maritime disputes with, say, Canada. That remains the hard work of diplomacy, and negotiations.  Glad we have the ol’ Kiribati border settled though.  (Amusingly, the article notes that US government aid actually helped fund Kiribati’s legal and negotiating team. We paid their lawyers as well as ours!  Maybe we could try that with Canada!).

http://opiniojuris.org/2013/09/09/needs-law-sea-convention-u-s-signs-maritime-boundary-agreement-kiribati/

2 Responses

  1. Julian,
    I fear you may have misread the article (or worse, I have!). The relevant part seems to be: “President Tong noted the assistance of SOPAC, Forum Fisheries Agencies, Geoscience of Australia, the Australian Attorney General’s office, the University of Sydney, UNEP Arendal and Commonwealth Secretariat, with funding from AUSAID.”
    The reference to ‘AUSAID’ is not a typo for “USAID’, it is a reference to the Australian Agency for International Development.
    We have had some great representatives from Kirabati attend maritime workshops here in Australia (co-hosted/co-funded with the US Defense Institute of International Legal Studies) and it is great to see Kiribati formalising its boundaries and securing its vital maritime resources.
    All the best, Ian

  2. Good eye, Julian.  The Kiribati agreement is the latest in a series of maritime boundary agreements — most much more important (e.g. in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic) — that the U.S. has successfully completed without being a party to UNCLOS.  I highlight the most important agreements in my paper “U.S. Accession to U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Unnecessary to Develop Oil and Gas Resources” (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/us-accession-to-un-convention-on-the-law-of-the-sea-unnecessary-to-develop-oil-and-gas-resources).  Best, Steve

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