Amid all the discussion about Fast and Furious, the intelligence leaks, and the Supreme Court’s decisions on Obama-Care and the Arizona immigration law, another huge issue is slipping under the radar. In the last week or so, there has been a somewhat quite push to have the Senate ratify the Law of the Seas Treaty (LOTS).
To be fair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent outward support for it and the push by the Obama Administration to have it passed is not without precedent. It has come up during the administration of just about every president since Ronald Reagan, and both of President George W. Bush’s Secretaries of State support ratification. The Senate should certainly conduct its due diligence and finally reject this treaty once and for all though.
The Law of the Seas Treaty – or LOTS as it has come to be called – was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1982 and was designed to be a governing concept for the oceans. While it masquerades as a plan to bring order to issues ranging from a country’s territorial waters to the conduct of ships on the high seas, it contains some dangerous provisions.
For starters, Article 82 of the treaty would require the United States to transfer large royalties generated from natural resource development off of American shores to the International Seabed Authority based in Jamaica. This international body would then have the power to distribute those royalties to other sovereigns and developing nations, including those that sponsor terrorism and/or engage in human rights violations. These royalties are better used if deposited where they currently go – into the U.S. Treasury.
If this was not enough of a reason to reject this treaty, it would give an international body similar to the highly political and anti-American International Court of Justice the ability to control our shipping and naval operations. Given the ongoing importance of sea power strategically and the commercial benefits America gains from foreign trade by use of the seas, this would be the equivalent of having the best team in the game and permitting a referee we know to be corrupt and whose goal was to make sure we lost to control the outcome of the contest.
Finally, there appears to be no valid reason for America to cede its sovereignty on this issue. Although this seems somewhat abstract, once the United States starts down this path it lands on a slippery slope that makes it harder to prevent further concessions of this sort. Moreover, there is no reason to change the status quo given that international law already incorporates most, if not all, of the good aspects of the treaty.
In the end, the Law of the Seas Treaty is just a bad idea.