by John Hawkins | October 31, 2007 6:29 am
On Thursday, the UN Law of the Sea Treaty comes up for a vote in the Senate. This is an extremely dangerous treaty that abrogates US Sovereignty to a UN committee.
Doug Bandow explains some of the problems with the treaty in his latest column, which you can read here,
In broad sweep, LOST covers three subject areas. The first includes exclusive economic zones, fishing, marine research, ocean pollution, and oil exploration. These provisions, though generally noncontroversial, are not without adverse effect: for instance, energy companies will owe the International Seabed Authority royalties up to 12 percent on any oil produced from the Outer Continental Shelf beyond 200 miles. This may be the first global tax imposed on Americans without congressional approval.
Moreover, advocates of a new kind of New International Economic Order hope to use the LOST for their own ends. William C.G. Burns of the Monterey Institute of International Studies calls LOST “a promising instrument through which such [legal] action might be taken, given its broad definition of pollution to the marine environment and the dispute resolution mechanisms contained within its provision.” A flood of international lawsuits under LOST could undermine U.S. prosperity and sovereignty.
Russia’s well-publicized submarine voyage under the North Pole has led to suggestions that America cannot dispute Moscow’s territorial claims outside of the treaty. However, the treaty respects the rights of nonmembers, while other interested parties, most notably Canada and Denmark, can resist Russia’s claims within LOST. Moreover, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf rejected Russian arctic territorial claims in 2002 based in part on information supplied by the U.S., demonstrating that Washington need not be a member to protect American interests.
Similarly, LOST’s affirmation of navigational freedom has won widespread support, including from the U.S. Navy. Yet most of the transit provisions incorporate existing customary international law. Moreover, there are ambiguities and uncertainties — whether, for instance, Washington can define which of its military transit activities are exempt from LOST restrictions.
The Bush administration proposes various “understandings” restricting the treaty’s reach. But other nations have issued their own reservations, thereby limiting American rights. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or alternative arbitration forums would uphold America’s positions. Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason Law School points out that any administration would “find it very awkward (to say the least) to reject the interpretations that emerge from international arbitration of its disputed points.”
…The most contentious issue is seabed mining. LOST establishes the International Seabed Authority, which is governed by a Council, Assembly, and various committees and commissions, and the Enterprise, to mine the seabed. Western mining operations will fund both their regulator, the Authority, and their competitor, the Enterprise. Monies collected will be handed out to Third World states, “liberation” movements, and whoever else the majority decides to shower with benefits.
Treaty supporters admit that the original accord, which limited production and mandated technology transfers, was flawed. But they claim that the LOST has been “fixed.”
The Clinton administration did make a horrible treaty slightly less horrid. The governing philosophy, regulatory structure, and most of the rules remain the same, however. Where explicit redistributionist provisions, such as requiring technology transfer, were dropped, other, more ambiguous, language was left in place which could have the same effect.
Finally, LOST still enshrines the basic principles of the NIEO as international precedent. Maybe ocean mining will never be viable, so turning vast resources over to yet another inefficient, politicized, and corrupt international organization won’t matter. But such a byzantine regulatory structure is likely to discourage entrepreneurship in related fields, especially the development of technology, software, and other products with multiple ocean uses. Further, applying such a principle to other unowned resources, such as outer space, would discourage private innovation in that field.
So, some American companies will have to pay a global tax to an “International Seabed Authority,” the treaty could create a “flood of international lawsuits,” and it will create a brand new “byzantine regulatory structure,” controlled by foreigners, for Americans to navigate — what’s not to love?
It’s no surprise that the Democrats, who are always working to undermine American sovereignty are supporting this treaty, but George Bush is obviously looking at this as a bit of legacy building. Sure, it may be a disaster for America, but that’ll be a problem for future Presidents and at least W. can say he did something — ugh.
The bad news is that the treaty has a decent shot of passing. The good news is that it will only take 34 votes in the Senate to send this atrocity down to Davy Jones Locker, where it belongs.
Do your part to defeat LOST by calling both of your Senators today and telling them how important it is to you that they vote against the treaty.
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