Saturday, January 19, 2008

Academics Befuddled About Why the US Senate Has Not Yet Voted on UNCLOS Ratification

All Quiet on UNCLOS

by Duncan Hollis

January 14, 2008

Notwithstanding its recent efforts to avoid recess appointments with 12 second sessions, the Senate will return in full next Monday. For international lawyers, the big question is whether UNCLOS finally gets a vote for the Senate's advice and consent. As I noted here and here, the SFRC voted UNCLOS out of Committee last fall largely along party lines. But it's been all quiet since. Indeed, I've heard from a couple of sources that the window for Senate A&C to accession is closing, if not closed. What I don't know is why?

Is it that the Democrats really don't have the two-thirds majority for A&C?

Or, is the opposition less than a third of the Senate, but the Senate leadership doesn't want to have the UNCLOS fight given all the procedural roadblocks and counter-measures even a handful of heavily committed Senators can invoke to oppose the treaty or forestall a vote?

I suppose the fact that the election cycle is in full swing may have some explanatory value as well. But, what do readers think (or know)?

If UNCLOS doesn't get a vote this Congress, it has to go back and start all over again at the SFRC, something I suspect UNCLOS supporters would be eager to avoid.

In that respect, I wonder if the supporters have one last push in them, or if the best chance for U.S. accession in the last decade has already passed.

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