Sarah Palin Knows the Arctic Well

(cross-posted at On Day One)

Via Chris Borgen at Opinio Juris, it seems that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as Governor of Alaska, has supported the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a treaty that has struggled to overcome opposition in the U.S. Senate for years.

From Palin’s position governing a state on the Arctic, this support makes sense. Ratifying the Law of the Sea treaty — which a broad swath of American legislators, on the left and the right, have endorsed, and 155 countries across the world have adopted — would put the United States back in the game of staking and negotiating claims on vital ocean territory up North.

Fully adopting UNCLOS is, to be blunt, a no-brainer. In addition to the increased access to the ocean’s resources that it would grant the United States, it would protect a threatened environment, enhance oil production, and further U.S. military interests — benefits that have created a diverse coalition of supporters among environmentalist, oil companies, and the U.S. Navy. Due to a stock of unfortunately durable myths, though, the treaty has been stalled for over 20 years. The Better World Campaign offers an excellent run-down of these myths and their clarifications, but an equally strong defense comes directly from Governor Palin, as quoted by Chris.

[R]atification has been thwarted by a small group of senators concerned about the perceived loss of U.S. sovereignty. I believe quite the contrary is the case. If the U.S. does not ratify the convention, we will be denied access to the forum established by the international community to adjudicate claims to submerged lands in the arctic.

What also makes Palin’s support curious is the rather ambiguous position of her running mate, John McCain. McCain was long an earnest advocate for Law of the Sea, but he seems to have taken both sides of the issue over the course of the past year or so.

Far more than expertise on Russia, an understanding of the benefits of the Law of the Sea treaty would be a tangible addition that Governor Palin will hopefully bring to the GOP ticket.