Law of the Sea Treaty Debated

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey are correct that most reasons prompting President Reagan to reject the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) remain present (“Ratifying sea treaty a mistake,” Op-Ed, Friday).

Further, it is indeed inescapable that LOST is an offering in the “look how internationalist we are” reparations campaign that has followed President Bush’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court and refusal, like President Clinton, to submit the Kyoto Protocol for Senate ratification (though a vote rejecting that signed treaty is sorely needed).

One additional point is crucial to any assessment of LOST’s threat to U.S. sovereignty. That is the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which, in already hearing cases, helpfully provides a glimpse of the United States’ future should we ratify this abhorrence.

This international court has already asserted, in the Mox case involving a U.K. nuclear plant, that it will determine its own competence, or scope and jurisdiction, even in the face of other extant treaties designed to address the issue at hand.

For example, LOST purports, through its Part XII, “Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment,” to govern claims of rising sea levels and melting ice caps. Although, of course, this is not an appropriate forum to assess the scientific validity of such predictions, the LOST tribunal inarguably provides the two elements lacking in the greens’ Kyoto dream: an enforcement mechanism and jurisdiction over the United States.

One thing is clear, given that, by LOST’s own terms, it is not necessary that the United States ratify Kyoto to be subject under this unaccountable court to Kyoto’s object and purpose: Whatever reasons drove President Bush to do the right thing on the ICC and Kyoto also mandate that he replicate those feats and maintain Mr. Reagan’s rejection of the Law of the Sea Treaty.