The Charles Fabrikant Colloquium on National Security Law and Policy
On Feb. 22, Columbia Law School hosted Vice Admiral James W. Houck, the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, for a discussion of the Law of the Sea Treaty and national security. The event was co-sponsored by the Fabrikant Colloquium, part of the Law School’s Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security, and the Center for Chinese Legal Studies.
“The U.S. Navy is a major actor in this arena,” explains Professor Matthew Waxman, faculty co-chair of the Hertog National Security Law Program. “This was a very valuable opportunity to discuss the Navy’s perspective on these issues, especially the geostrategic dimensions.”
The Treaty, or the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, is an international attempt to establish a legal order for all resources and uses of the sea beyond the limits of national jurisdictions. The Treaty’s key provisions address regulation and protections for navigation and the passage of ships, management and safeguards of marine life and environment, conservation and harvest of deep seabed resources, protocols for scientific research and investors, and procedures for dispute resolution.
"The Law of the Sea and related issues are central in the U.S.-China legal relationship, and China is devoting significant resources to research on the Law of the Sea,” notes Professor Benjamin Liebman, Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies.
“This was a great opportunity to bring students and scholars from and interested in China together with a leading American expert on the issue.”
President Clinton signed the broad Treaty in 1994 and despite presidential support since then, the Senate has not provided the necessary advice and consent for U.S. ratification and accession. Admiral Houck discussed the important national security, economic, sovereignty, and other interests at stake in this continuing debate.
Photo from left to right: Professor Benjamin Liebman, Vice Admiral James W. Houck, and Professor Matthew Waxman.