Law of the Sea Treaty Hearing Today

This morning, at 10 am, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) will hold a hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). LOST undermines American sovereignty by establishing a comprehensive legal regime for navigation and international management of oceanic resources, including the deep seabed. It also creates a new U.N.-style bureaucracy called the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which would be located in Kingston, Jamaica.

The U.S. would be one of over 160 countries included under the ISA’s authority, giving us limited authority over its decisions, and just like the U.N. General Assembly, proceedings at the ISA would be dominated by anti-U.S. interests.

Not only that, but the ISA would be funded by redistributing U.S. wealth. Having full sovereignty over our continental shelf allows the U.S. to collect royalties from oil and gas companies for exploitation. Under Article 82 of LOST, the U.S. would be required to transfer a significant portion of these royalties to the ISA for “redistribution” to the so-called developing world, including countries with corrupt or despotic regimes or who are state sponsors of terrorism.

Under Part XV of LOST, the U.S. would have to engage in a mandatory dispute resolution if any other member of the treaty brings a claim against us. This could open us up to specious allegations by opportunistic or unfriendly nations, who simply want to spite the U.S. In these disputes, the U.S. would choose two people to represent our side, while the opposing nation would choose two representatives of their own. A U.N. arbiter would be the deciding vote, and since the U.N. frequently represents views inherently unfriendly to the U.S., the likelihood of the U.S. winning a dispute seems remote.

In addition to all of this, LOST claims that resources located in the deep seabed are “the common heritage of mankind,” forbidding mining unless ISA gives permission. Since the ISA takes into account the interests of “developing states” regarding these resources, the U.S. would be at a disadvantage when it comes to mining these resources.

LOST purports to grant navigation rights to the U.S. Navy, but such rights already exist. The U.S. Navy has never had an issue accessing key strategic straits or archipelagic waters.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan refused to sign LOST because of its many, many flaws. For the past three decades, no Congress has passed the treaty for the same reasons. Unfortunately, today that might change, as an aggressive lobbying effort to ratify LOST is taking place. Senators need to be aware of the dangers of this treaty and take the lead of the House of Representatives by disallowing this treaty from being ratified.

Related Links:
Save American Sovereignty: Stop LOST
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Erodes U.S. Sovereignty over U.S. Extended Continental Shelf.
Accession to U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Would Expose the U.S. to Baseless Climate Change Lawsuits.
Key Votes on Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

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