The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), a United Nations initiative, has been bouncing around since before President Reagan’s time in the White House. He refused to sign. Obama is yearning for it (amassing power for his future time as UN Secretary-General). As all United Nations treaties, those foolish countries ratifying it lose sovereignty. We will lose taxpayer monies, and monies that we generate from within our 200 nautical mile from our shorelines – among other egregious problems with LOST. Portman is believed to be on Romney’s shortlist for Veep. Ayotte may be considered as well.
President Reagan was also repelled by the existence and structure of the ISA [International Seabed Authority]. In 1978, he declared that “no national interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface to the Third World.”
Breaking: The Examiner reports that Senator Harry Reid may not bring up LOST for vote until after the November elections, in a lame-duck session, so as not to commit DemoRats to an unpopular vote FOR the treaty. (Or Jon Kerry may not have a Committee vote until after the elections for the same reasons.
Today we stand at 18-20 [See UPDATES BELOW] Republican Senators ready to sign this dangerous treaty. For decades we have refused it, but under Barack Obama the treaty may be ratified. It is imperative that you phone, email, fax and tweet. Congress conveniently doesn’t allow email from non-constitutents – that’s where Tweeting comes in.
Among Republican Senators strongly SUPPORTING LOST are John McCain, Dick Lugar who lost his primary and will go home when the next Congress convenes, Olympia Snowe who is retiring after the November elections and Susan Collins – the usual suspects.
Those Republican Senators straddling the fence (or not committing one way or the other): Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) who will retire after the elections, Bob Corker (TN), and Lindsey Graham (SC).
These 30 31 Republican Senators are publicly committed to a ‘nay’ (against the treaty) vote: Sessions (ALA), Shelby (ALA), Kyl (AZ), Boozman (ARK), Rubio (FL), Chambliss (GA), Isakson (GA), UPDATE 7-11-12 Grassley (IA), Crapo (ID), Risch (ID), Coats (IN), Moran (KS), Roberts (KS), McConnell (KY), Paul (KY), Vitter (LA), Wicker (MISS), Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), Hoeven (ND), Heller (NV), Coburn (OK), Inhofe (OK), Toomey (PA), DeMint (SC), Thune (SD), Cornyn (TX), Hatch (UT), Lee (UT), Johnson (WI), Barrasso (WY).
UPDATE 7-16-12 8pm CDT: Senator Inhofe has annoounced that Senators Portman and Ayotte will vote against LOST. Lamar Alexander has said he will vote against it, IF it is brought up this year. See Inhofe’s announcement video and/or transcript here.
UPDATE 7-11-12 8:35 pm CDT: The Hill says 34 Senators voting ‘nay’ against Lost are needed. Senator Grassley has joined my list above. We should be at 31 Republicans against at this moment in time.
Who is missing from the list of those committed to vote AGAINST ratification?
Murkowski (ALASKA), McCain (AZ), Grassley (IA), Kirk (IL), Brown (Mass), Cochran (MISS), Lugar (IN), Portman (OH), Johanns (NE), Ayotte (NH), Graham (SC), Corker (TN), Lamar (TN), Hutchison (TX), Enzi (WY).
Who among those not committed to voting AGAINST the treaty are up for re-election in November?
Brown (Mass), Corker (TN)
Rumors are that Rob Portman is on Romney’s shortlist as a Veep choice. Gossip that Kelly Ayotte is also being vetted. Neither have committed for or against LOST.
2007: According to an October 2007 report, a spokesman declared that “Gov. Romney has concerns with the Law of the Sea Treaty. He believes giving unaccountable international institutions more power is a serious problem.” Source: NewsMax
2008: The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has so far been silent. But in his 2008 campaign, the former Massachusetts governor, who was then running as a “moderate”, said he had “concerns” about the treaty’s “giving unaccountable international institutions more power”. Source International Policy Digest
Pat Dollard has contact information for Senators, including Twitter urls.
National sovereignty: The treaty creates a new UN agency with its own dispute resolution tribunal. However, should the US stop its current compliance with the US-negotiated laws of the Convention, the U.S. could not be taken to the Law of the Sea Tribunal since the U.S. has indicated that it would choose binding arbitration rather than availing itself of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
The Environment: Some of the Convention’s conservation provisions would provide new avenues for non-US environmental organizations to affect domestic US environmental policies by pursuing legal action in both US and international courts. In addition, requirements that nations either harvest their entire allowable catch in certain areas or give the surplus to other nations could result in mandated overfishing.
Taxation: The license fees and taxes levied on economic activities in the deep seabed Area by the ISA would be, in effect, a form of ‘taxation without representation’. Citizens would be indirectly taxed through business and governmental activities in the Area.
Economics: Businesses can already exploit resources from the international area; ratifying the treaty would force them to buy licenses for that right and pay taxes on the proceeds.
Navigation rights not threatened: One of the treaty’s main selling points, legally recognized navigation rights on, over, and under straits, is unnecessary because these rights are not currently threatened by law or by any military capable of opposing the US.
Harm to de-militarizing operations: The treaty would for the first time require all unmanned ocean vessels, including submarines used for mine detection to protect ships exercising the right of innocent passage, to navigate on the surface in territorial waters – effectively eliminating their value for such purposes.
No control over funding: The treaty gives a blank check to the UN, funded by the US. The US would have no control over how the money is used.
Lack of need: The U.S. already honors almost all the provisions of the treaty. For practical purposes, there is no pressing need to ratify it that outweighs the negatives of the remaining provisions. Any perceived benefit of an improved U.S. image world-wide is likely to be illusory.
See the list of former U.S. Government officialswho have written to Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, pleading for the death of this treaty. Snippets of that letter below:
Contrary to the claims of many treaty proponents, the treaty is not something we have “always honored in practice.” Instead, it represents a radically new comprehensive legal regime for international management of oceanic resources, including the deep seabed. The deeply flawed treaty deserves serious consideration and close scrutiny on every single element, not finely calibrated congressional testimonies that ignore the treaty’s most dangerous provisions….
Senators must understand that U.S. membership in the treaty would not confer any maritime rightor freedom that the U.S. does not already enjoy. In fact, General Martin E. Dempsey, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified on May 23 that if the treaty remains unratified, the United States “will, of course, assert our sovereignty and our ability to navigate” and “our ability to project force will not deteriorate.”
Navigational rights and freedoms enjoyed by the United States and the Navy are guaranteed not by membership in a treaty, but rather through a combination of long-standing principles of customary international law and persistent naval operations. Indeed, for more than 200 years the United States has successfully preserved and protected its navigational rights and freedoms by relying on naval operations, diplomacy, and customary international law.
While America has little to gain through accession, it has much to lose within the new
comprehensive legal regime.
Nearly all of the concerns surrounding the treaty stem from the creation of the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Based in Kingston, Jamaica, the new, U.N.-style bureaucracy is supposed to make decisions by consensus; however, nothing prevents the rest of the “international community” fromconsistently voting against our national interest, as regularly occurs in similar U.N. bodies such as theGeneral Assembly…
Alarmingly, no comprehensive study of the potential legal, economic, political, and military consequences of adverse judgments stemming from these tribunals has been conducted. What is clear, though, is that America could be exposed to countless baseless environmental lawsuits designed to injure U.S. interests and limit U.S. freedom.
The treaty would also negate U.S. law, which currently states that mineral resources on and below the surface of the continental shelf are held by the federal government for the benefit of the American people. Article 82 of the treaty takes a significant portion of the current flow of royalties into the U.S. Treasury from recovery of natural resources from the U.S. extended continental shelf and diverts it to the ISA, which then would redistribute that American money among other countries that are parties to the treaty.
Finally, Senators should understand that President Reagan if he were alive today would undoubtedly still reject the treaty.
The 1994 revisions negotiated during the Clinton administration failed to address several critical flaws. For example, the 1994 agreement failed to address, much less fix, provisions guaranteeing “national liberation movements” full rights and benefits under the treaty. President Reagan was also repelled by the existence and structure of the ISA. In 1978, he declared that “no national interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface to the Third World.”
Never mind that we do not have a date for a vote. John Kerry is lobbying hard for passage. Don’t be a laggard. Contact your Senator if he/she is not committed, and do it more than once. If you are on Twitter, keep the reminders going without being obnoxious about it. Likewise, take the time to thank those Senators standing against LOST. Protein Wisdom has more. UPDATE 7-11-12 11:30pm CDT: See a list of countries which have ratified LOST and hear Senator Jim DeMint’s argument against U.S. ratification here.