The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Law of the Sea Treaty (‘LOST’) by a vote of 17-4 and sent it to the Senate to vote it up or down. President Bush has said he will sign it. As with all treaties, LOST will become the ‘law of the land’ if approved by the Senate and signed by the President; this means it will supersede all other federal and state laws.
Many thought LOST was lost when Ronald Reagan rejected it; no one thought a Republican president would resurrect it; however it is easy to see why. Although former Secretary of State Ed Meese and Reagan’s Attorney General and National Security Adviser, William Clark, were opposed, former Secretary of State James Baker was in favor of it. Since George Bush is now under the spell of James Baker (as he follows Baker’s recommendations on the mid east), it is likely he is following Baker’s advice regarding approval of this unfortunate treaty.
It has been reported that the U.S. Navy is in favor of the treaty "because it creates a framework for navigational rights". However, the U.S. Navy has been doing quite well using "customary law" that has guaranteed freedom of the seas for over three hundred years. Some argue we should approve the treaty otherwise Russia will claim oil rights at the Arctic seabed but the broad Russian claims are actually a result of the treaty. Also, the fact that as a treaty member the U.S "will have a seat at the table" is not persuasive since there are many other "seats’ occupied by members not friendly to the United States. Do we expect countries the like of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Zimbabwe will support American interests?
A major problem is that the Law of the Sea Treaty has 320 articles and nine annexes. It is unlikely that Senators, and even the president, have read all 320 articles to know what they are signing the United States on to; no doubt if they actually read it all they would be surprised what they would find.
The administration believes military activities are excluded from the treaty but Article 20 says "In the territorial sea, submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and show their flag." It is difficult to imagine Navy personnel in favor of the treaty are actually aware of this provision that would prevent intelligence gathering or deployment of our forces in hostile shores. Navy sonar equipment would also be prohibited by Article 196 which says countries "shall take all measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment resulting from the use of technologies under their jurisdiction or control".
The government has already been sued by environmentalists over the use of sonar claimed to adversely affect whales and other sea creatures; with the treaty in hand they would surely be able to prevent the Navy from using its vast technologies in the protection of our country.
Many people feel LOST is a "back-door" mechanism for forcing American compliance with the Kyoto Treaty. Although the administration says the treaty does not apply to land-based pollution, Senator David Ritter says "If it is … not covered by the treaty, why is there a section entitled ‘Pollution from Land-Based Sources’? Senator Vitter might also refer to Article 213 which says countries "shall adopt laws and regulations and take other measures necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards established through competent international organizations" to control such pollution". Of course, the UN has jumped on board of the ‘man-is causing-global warming’ bus and LOST would bring the United States along for the ride too.
Should the United Nations have authority to levy taxes? If you don’t think so, read Article 13 of the third Annex of the treaty which gives the treaty-formed ‘International Seabed Authority’ the authority to tax as much as 70% of the net proceeds of enterprises engaged in underwater seabed mining, as well as the ability to levy annual million dollar "administrative fees".
About 154 countries have adopted the treaty; how many of these do you suppose are of the economic and military stature of the United States? The treaty was rejected over twenty years ago by our government that did not want to grant the corrupt United Nations control over 70% of the planet’s surface, the senate should reject it now.