Saturday, September 1, 2007

LOST Poses Threats to U.S. Sovereignty

The Law of the Sea Treaty’s stated purpose is the establishment of a “legal order for the seas and oceans.” To that end, LOST establishes rules governing: navigation of the oceans, territorial waters and straits; marine research; protection of the marine environment; deep seabed mining: and other oceans-related issues.

LOST also establishes UN-affiliated agencies to implement the Treaty, as well as international tribunals to hear disputes between state parties as to the Treaty’s application. If the disputing parties fail to reach an agreement on their own, they are required to submit the matter for resolution to one of LOST’s mechanisms: the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), an arbitration panel or a special arbitration panel.

In order to engage in exploitation of the seabeds’ natural resources, parties to LOST must make payments of various kinds to the Treaty’s International Seabed Authority (ISA).

After negotiations on LOST were completed in 1982, the Treaty was rejected by President Reagan. It was subsequently signed by President Clinton in 1994 following the negotiation of a separate accord known as “the Agreement” that is said to have addressed Mr. Reagan’s concerns. To date, the Senate has not consented to the ratification of LOST.

Proponents’ claims:

Far from impinging upon American sovereignty, this treaty actually increases this nation’s sovereign authority and power. In fact, the Law of the Sea Treaty might be better described as a “U.S. land grab.” It expands this country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights over extensive maritime territory and natural resources off its coast. It provides: a 12-mile territorial sea subject to U.S. sovereignty, U.S. sovereign rights over resources within a 200-mile exclusive economic zone, and U.S. sovereign rights over offshore resources (including minerals) to the outer edge of the continental margin, which extends well beyond 200 miles in several areas, including up to 600 miles off Alaska.

The Convention does not harm U.S. sovereignty in other respects either. The dispute resolution mechanism provides appropriate flexibility in terms of both the forum and the exclusion of sensitive subject matter. The deep seabed mining provisions do not apply to any areas in which the U.S. has sovereignty or sovereign rights. Further, these rules will facilitate mining activities by U.S. companies in international waters. And the navigational provisions ensure that U.S. military and commercial vessels have worldwide maritime mobility – without a permission slip.

Proof of the positive effect of LOST on U.S. sovereignty can be found in the very broad support the Treaty enjoys from the U.S. military, environmentalists and affected industries, including oil/gas, fisheries, communications, maritime transportation, ocean manufacturing, etc.

The Facts:

  • LOST is a vast and complex undertaking, with obligations and implications that go far beyond the codification of common navigation rights and arrangements that were the initial impetus for the Treaty.

  • During its negotiation, LOST became a vehicle for advancing an agenda promoted by the Soviet Union and so-called “non-aligned movement” during the 1970s, known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO). The NIEO was a classic “united front” effort aimed at undermining the economic and military power of the industrialized West – particularly the United States – in the name of a centrally planned, global redistribution of wealth to the benefit of developing nations.

  • Toward this end, LOST creates various supranational bodies to develop and enforce its provisions, complete with an executive branch, legislature and judiciary. These agencies operate on the basis of one-nation/one-vote – an arrangement that has proven in the United Nations and elsewhere to be highly disadvantageous to the United States.

  • The true intent of LOST is made clear by statements from some of those most responsible for its mutation from a navigation agreement to a blueprint for supranational government of 70% of the world’s surface (i.e., the oceans and their seabeds): the World Federalist Association (now known as Citizens for Global Solutions). In an undated white paper on their website, these advocates for world government declare: “An organization is already in the process of being developed to control the exploitation of ocean resources, and similar agencies could be created to govern Antarctica and the moon.”

    The Citizens for Global Solutions posting goes on to say: “By means of these voluntarily funded functional agencies, national sovereignty would be gradually eroded until it is no longer an issue…Eventually, a world federation can be formally adopted with little resistance.”

This strategy of garroting national sovereignty would be advanced by LOST in several ways. For example:

  • LOST entails obligations at odds with our national security strategy and operations. These obligations may be enforced by the Treaty’s mandatory dispute resolution mechanisms that are stacked against the United States.

  • LOST involves unprecedented environmental obligations. These can be used to interfere with the exercise of U.S. sovereignty on the grounds that what is being done on American soil or in its airspace will have negative repercussions for the oceans. Such obligations go far beyond the Kyoto accords and could entail substantial costs.

    For example, steps taken to resuscitate New Orleans in 2005 by pumping untold quantities of toxic waste out of Lake Pontchartrain into the Gulf of Mexico could have been prohibited by an edict from a LOST agency. Such a ruling could then have been enforced by U.S. courts increasingly acting under the sway of international tribunals and treaties.

  • LOST empowers an unaccountable, unrepresentative international agency for the first time to collect what amount to taxes. This step – and the ominous precedent it sets – are an affront to a nation whose genesis was rooted in the principle of “no taxation without representation.”

  • LOST will allow interference with and the penalization of American businesses. It will impose the “Precautionary Principle” (according to which innovations cannot be introduced unless proven free of any adverse consequences); give standing to Alien Torts claims in U.S. courts; require sharing proprietary information and technology with international bureaucrats and competitors; compromise WTO rights; and give precedence to European-dominated international standards. The costs of such derogations of our sovereignty could be high, perhaps even crippling, for affected businesses.

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