Sea Treaty Fallout

Today one presidential aspirant joined a growing list of senators in opposing U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Taking as long as the opposition has to assert itself, this clearly was a difficult decision for these political leaders to step out on this matter, flying as it does in the face of one of President Bush’s “to do” items before he leaves office. The latter have an actual vote on the matter which appears likely (though by no means certainly) headed to the Senate floor this year. The former merely would have to live with LOST’s constraints and other fallout. If LOST is implemented as its opponents fear, this fallout will include a replication — only worse — of what we saw after Bush snubbed the International Criminal Court and Kyoto Protocol upon taking office, both of which were signed by President Clinton though only the former was unsigned by Bush (his treatment of the latter was for all legal and practical purposes no different than his predecessor, if rhetorically in stark contrast).

Whatever the motivations and difficulties underlying these decisions, they are the right ones. Much has been written about the principal reasons that LOST should remain among the more than 400 treaties signed by the U.S. but never ratified. In brief, these remain that: 1) LOST cedes far too much sovereignty to supranational governance, 2) this includes taxation, euphemized as “fee collecting”, authority, 3) elevating the level even of eco-governance to which we subject ourselves, specifically including sweeping authority to govern “land based pollution”, and 4) a binding tribunal and other dispute resolution ensuring that by the front door or back, the Kyoto agenda will be imposed upon the U.S.

The voting begins this week at the Senate subcommittee level.