The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is currently considering ratification of the United Nations treaty on the Law of the Sea. This treaty has dangerous implications for U.S. sovereignty and economic growth and could even serve as a “backdoor” strategy for implementing UN environmental treaties like the Kyoto Protocol.
This letter is adapted, with minor modifications, from a letter previously sent on February 18, 2005 to then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar. It is our hope that all of the conservative leaders listed below (and many others) will lend their names and authority to this updated letter.
To sign on to the letter, please email your name, title and organization to Ben Lerner at the Center for Security Policy: [email protected].
The Hon. Joseph Biden
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman:
As you know, the Foreign Relations Committee previously considered and approved a resolution of accession for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Regrettably, the Committee did not take testimony from any witnesses opposed to this convention, also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) – a fact that almost certainly contributed to the unanimous support LOST enjoyed when the vote was taken to report out the resolution.
The failure of the full Senate to act on the Committee’s resolution during its penultimate session means that before such action can be taken in the 110th Congress, a new resolution of accession will have to be introduced and passed by the Foreign Relations Committee.
We understand that you intend to hold hearings on LOST for this purpose later this month and perhaps to move a new resolution of accession shortly thereafter. If so, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. We call upon you to ensure that critics of this accord, as well as proponents, will be afforded an opportunity to testify.
In particular, we would hope that such hearings would address the following matters of concern to us and our members:
· We agree with President Ronald Reagan, who wisely refused to sign the LOST in 1982, on the grounds that it was the product of an unfriendly international agenda that aimed to redistribute the world’s wealth from developed nations, like the United States, to developing ones. Specifically, Mr. Reagan objected to the Treaty’s Part XI, and the supranational agency – the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – it created to regulate activities on and under the seven-tenths of the globe’s surface that lies beneath international waters.
· The then-Soviet Union and so-called non-aligned nations that dominated the LOST negotiations even empowered the ISA to levy taxes, a first in the history of multilateral institutions. President Reagan made clear his concerns about both the specific character of this organization and the “undesirable precedents” it would establish for other international institutions.
· Today, even the Treaty’s supporters profess to recognize the wisdom of many of Mr. Reagan’s objections. They claim, however, that subsequent negotiations, which produced an accord known as “The Agreement” in 1994, “fixed” what was wrong with the original Law of the Sea Treaty. In fact, this is a matter of some dispute – even with regards to Part XI – since the Agreement does not actually amend the LOST and since fully 25 of the States Parties to the Treaty have not ratified the 1994 accord.
· Other aspects of the Law of the Sea Treaty have implications for U.S. sovereignty and national security interests and clearly remain uncorrected. A number of these reflect, in much the same way the original Part XI and its supranational ISA did, the agenda of actual or potential adversaries interested in making it more difficult for this country to use the seas to prosper economically and to protect our national interests.
· For example, the Treaty compels parties to submit to mandatory dispute resolution, something the Senate has traditionally rejected. Even under the revisions contained in “The Agreement,” the United States would be committed to transfer potentially militarily relevant technology to possibly unfriendly hands.
· American business interests will likely be adversely affected by the imposition of sweeping new environmental obligations – including some contained in treaties to which the United States is not a party – and by LOST’s application of the Luddite “Precautionary Principle.” The latter invites regulations and legal actions in the event there is any uncertainty about a given initiative’s down-stream implications. Shareholders are surely unaware of these risks to their equities and will be surprised to discover that corporate executives (many of whom publicly support LOST) are, too.
· LOST will give legal grounds to those who wish to prevent us from performing vital intelligence-collection activities over, on, and under the seas, and from interdicting maritime WMD proliferation activity. We believe that LOST will act as a brake on vital U.S. activity such as President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative, not a lubricant to it.
· We believe that the U.S. Navy’s support of LOST is particularly misplaced, since the Treaty will afford fresh opportunities for what has come to be called “lawfare” – the use of such legal instruments to interfere with our military, its operations and logistical support (much of which is provided by commercial vessels and civilian personnel).
In light of the foregoing concerns, we believe that – in addition to renewed deliberations in the Foreign Relations Committee – other panels of the Senate (including, but not limited to, the armed services, intelligence, government affairs, finance, energy and environment and public works committees) should hold their own hearings on the implications of this accord for matters within their jurisdiction. So, too, should their counterparts on the House side given the considerable body of far-reaching implementing legislation likely to be made necessary should LOST be ratified.
N.B. This letter is adapted, with minor modifications, from a letter previously sent on February 18, 2005 to then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar. The earlier version was signed by the following:
American Conservative Union
Free Congress Foundation
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Center for Security Policy
Thomas P. Kilgannon
Author, Reforming the Law of the Sea Treaty
Alex St. James
African-American Republican Leadership Council
William J. Murray
Religious Freedom Coalition
U.S. Business & Industry Council
Christian Coalition of America
Project for the New American Century
Family Research Council
American Council for Immigration Reform
Concerned Women for America
National Center for Public Policy Research
Council for America
R. Allen Angell
Free Market Foundation
C. Preston Noell
Tradition, Family and Property
Kumen R. Call
Life Issues Institute
Americans for Sovereignty