Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sink the Law of the Sea Treaty! by William Norman Grigg

Conservative Americans who consider George W. Bush a champion of national sovereignty have been shocked to learn that the president seeks Senate ratification of the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). Despite the Senate's refusal thus far to ratify the treaty, it went into effect in 1995, and elements of the vast regulatory apparatus it outlines are already in operation.

When fully implemented, LOST would consummate the largest act of territorial conquest in history, turning seven-tenths of the Earth's surface over to the jurisdiction of the United Nations. It would create a mammoth bureaucracy to regulate exploration of the ocean depths and commercial development of the seabed's riches. The UN would also be empowered to collect royalties on seabed mining, thereby providing the world body with a potentially enormous independent source of revenue to fund its agenda for "global governance."

None of this seems compatible with the Bush administration's reputation for flinty-eyed defense of our national independence. Yet during her Senate confirmation hearings in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that the Bush administration "would certainly like to see [LOST] pass as soon as possible.... And we very much want to see it go into force."

"Joining the convention will advance the interests of the United States military," Rice claimed on January 18. "The United States, as the country with the largest coastline and the largest exclusive economic zone, will gain economic and resource benefits from the convention.... And the United Nations has no decision-making role under the convention in regulating uses of the oceans by any state party to the convention."

Rice's unqualified endorsement of LOST lets several important questions go begging. For instance: why is it necessary to sign a UN treaty in order to enjoy "economic and resource benefits" from ocean territory we already own and control? If the UN would have no role in regulating the use of oceans within our sphere of influence, how would it be in a position to grant us the "economic and resource benefits" referred to by Rice?

But nobody present at Secretary Rice's confirmation hearings was inclined to ask such pointed questions. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a noted Republican internationalist who supports ratifying LOST, was delighted by Rice's rapturous endorsement of the pact.

Continue: Get US out! of the United Nations

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