Hillary Clinton joins forces with former military leaders to pressure the Senate on the Law of the Sea, key to competing with China

Although the United States recognized the Law of the Sea Treaty in 1994, it has never formally ratified it.

A group of former military and political leaders is pressuring Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea, which they believe is critical to competing with China for the mining of important minerals. In a letter addressed to two high-ranking senators, they explained why the United States should not be left behind on this maritime issue.

The aforementioned group, which includes Hillary Clinton and former ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte, comprises former officials from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and US intelligence services.

The request is simple: that the Senate ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, sanctioned in 1994. The initiative is based on the need for the United States to claim areas of international waters where minerals such as cobalt and nickel can be obtained, which are considered fundamental for energy transition and defense applications.

By recognizing but not ratifying the treaty, the country is not a voting member of the International Seabed Authority. Therefore, the United States has no say in the process of laws that apply to the seabed and cannot be awarded exploration contracts to exploit the seabed in international waters, while China already has five.

"We have already lost two of our four 'USA' designated deep seabed mine sites, each containing a trillion dollars in value of the strategic minerals of copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese and rare earths; minerals critical both for United States security dominance as well as the transition to a greener twenty-first Century," reads the letter, addressed specifically to the Democratic senator Ben Cardin and the Republican senator Jim Risch.

"Continued inaction on the Treaty means a likely quick loss of our remaining two 'USA' designated sites. Moreover, China has moved forward to obtain five sites and the Russian Federation three and they are also moving to obtain a monopoly on refining of these strategic minerals."

Indeed, support for the United States to boost deep-sea mining has only increased in Congress. For example, Representatives Carol Miller (R-WV) and John Joyce (R-PA) introduced a bill on Tuesday to fiscally and politically support underwater mining.

"Over the past two decades, the Chinese Communist Party has invested strategically in controlling global supply chains for essential minerals. It is vital to our security and economic interests that the CCP-controlled monopoly on these materials be broken," Joyce said.

What is the Law of the Sea?

According to the National Ocean Service, it is "a set of international customs, treaties and agreements by which governments maintain order, productivity and peaceful relations at sea."