Saturday, September 1, 2007

LOST Empowers the UN

The formal title for the Law of the Sea Treaty is the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” This name bespeaks the important role the supranational organization played in the Treaty’s preparation in UN-sponsored negotiations and, subsequent to its entry into force, in LOST’s administration and implementation.

The official title also reflects the fact that the LOST’s various international governmental agencies are modeled after, and work in much the same manner as, the UN and associated multilateral institutions. In some respects, however, the Treaty departs from past practice by conferring on its agencies unprecedented powers – notably for mandatory dispute resolution and for the management of vast natural resources for which those agencies are given responsibility.

Since the Law of the Sea Treaty entered into force two decades ago, LOST’s executive, legislative and judicial entities have largely operated in obscurity and, with a few exceptions, in uncontroversial ways. The question occurs: Would U.S. accession to LOST precipitate changes in the conduct of the Treaty’s agencies, giving rise perhaps to a formidable new international entity – and, in the process, enhancing the influence and power of the UN and other supranational organizations at the expense of nation-states like ours?

The Proponents’ Claims:

Supporters of the Law of the Sea Treaty fall into two camps on LOST and the UN. The Bush administration downplays the UN’s role in the Treaty. It observes that, just because a treaty was drawn up under UN auspices, does not mean that such an accord cannot serve our interests, citing as examples the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and the UN Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. The administration also rejects suggestions that the upshot of U.S. ratification of the Treaty will be an undesirable net increase in the stature and authority of the United Nations and other supranational organizations.

Other LOST advocates, however, regard the Law of the Sea Treaty as a stepping stone to a new world order in which supranational government is the rule. As Bernard Oxman, a former U.S. LOST negotiator has put it:

  • “It is…ironic that while one of the most significant contributions of the Law of the Sea Convention to the rule of law is its requirement for adjudication or arbitration of disputes, the prospects for global ratification of the Convention may be placed in jeopardy by litigation in this delicate interim period, particularly with or between non-parties, over maritime jurisdictional issues.”

  • “…I do not dissent from the view that the development of international law benefits from more cases and decisions by the Court."

  • "My view is simply that, because of its compromissory clauses, a globally ratified Convention promises many more cases in the future, and that it would be unfortunate if one or two cases during this delicate interim period, when so many governments are considering ratification, had the effect of prejudicing that promise.”

These Transnational Progressives are convinced that the subordination of the nation-state to such an order is required to ensure a more just and peaceable world and a more equitable distribution of its resources.

The Facts:

The Law of the Sea Treaty and its agencies are indisputably linked to the UN, both substantively and organizationally. What benefits one, benefits the other.

  • On the substantive plane, other UN agencies routinely promote treaties and regulations designed to build on and reinforce LOST’s importance and the authority of its agencies. A recent example is instructive: A report of a UN review conference on progress between 2004 and 2006 in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity “recognizes the United Nations General Assembly’s central role in addressing issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.”

    The report goes on to “recall that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/30 emphasized the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirmed that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that its integrity needs to be maintained, as recognized also by the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development…” (emphasis added throughout).

  • At a practical level, the ties between the UN and LOST are no less palpable. For example: All staff associated with LOST bodies are paid by the UN system. Day-to-day monitoring of activities regulated by LOST is conducted by UN staff employees. And, under the terms of the Treaty, the UN Secretary General plays a direct role in choosing the fifth arbiter for five-person special arbitral tribunals that will hear disputes between parties to LOST. He also is responsible for convening conferences to amend the Treaty.

    Hard experience argues against further empowering the United Nations and its affiliates. The UN has a long, and sordid, track-record of engaging in or endorsing behavior and policies that are antithetical to the interests of the United States and other freedom-loving nations. Such behavior is generally perpetrated by majorities of member-states and like-minded, unaccountable international bureaucrats who use the General Assembly’s absurd one-nation/one-vote rules to translate their hostility towards America and its fellow developed nations into policies that vilify the West and seek to redistribute the world’s power and wealth to the developing world.

    A small sample of this reprehensible conduct would include: the Oil-for-Food scandal; the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution; the creation of the UN Human Rights Council on which countries such as Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia are allowed to serve; and the convening of the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa – an event that was nothing more than a forum for anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing. News sources have reported that the UN will be convening in Geneva in late August, 2007, to plan a follow-up to the 2001 Durban conference, with Libya slated to chair the planning committee, and Iran and Cuba serving on the committee as well.

    LOST amounts to an attempt to put supranational agencies on steroids. It allows them to: regulate seven-tenths of the planet (i.e., the world’s oceans and the vast natural resources to be found in and below them); levy what are tantamount to international taxes; and impose mandatory and un-appealable decisions in disputes that may arise involving parties to the Treaty.

    To date, the full malevolent potential of the Law of the Sea Treaty has been more in prospect than in evidence. Should the United States accede to LOST, however, it is predictable that the Treaty’s agencies will: wield their powers in ways that will prove very harmful to American interests; intensify the web of sovereignty-sapping obligations and regulations being promulgated by this and other UN entities; and advance inexorably the emergence of supranational world government.It may be that the only check on such undesirable outcomes is for the United States to remain a non-state party to LOST. The latitude such an arrangement affords America to observe Treaty provisions that are unobjectionable – without being bound by those that are – may not only be preferable for this country and its vital interests. It could also help spare other nations the less free, less prosperous and more onerous international order that will emerge if the Transnational Progressives have their way on the Law of the Sea Treaty.

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