The latest effort to adopt and implement the Law of the Sea Treaty has gathered momentum by bringing on board in a very public way five former Secretaries of State to support it. But American acceptance of United Nations sovereignty over many of the rights America has claimed for itself is not acceptable. America is still – and should remain – a sovereign state that should bow to no international organization in the name of globalism. Following are several articles, pro and con, to provide our readers with both sides of the argument -You know our position – we oppose it – but you may or may not agree with us. Read the articles and you decide. Then leave a comment with your thoughts. – Editor
The Law of the Sea Treaty calls for transfers of technology and wealth from developed to undeveloped nations. It also requires parties to the treaty to adopt regulations and laws to control pollution of the marine environment. Such provisions were among the reasons President Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982. As Edwin Meese, U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan, explained recently, “…it was out of step with the concepts of economic liberty and free enterprise that Ronald Reagan was to inspire throughout the world.”
By John Bellinger
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Raff has noted in recent posts some of the conservative opposition to the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention. But the treaty is supported by many senior Republican officials. Last Thursday all of the living Republican Secretaries of State — Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice — signed a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging the Senate to approve the treaty. They argue: “The continuing delay of U.S. accession to the convention compromises our nation’s authority to exercise our sovereign interest, jeopardizes our national and economic security, and limits our leadership role in international ocean policy.” The Secretaries of State join every former Legal Adviser of the State Department, every former Chief of Naval Operations, and all of U.S. business — the oil & gas, shipping, mining, and telecommunications industries — in supporting the treaty.
John B. Bellinger III is a partner in the international and national security law practices at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, DC. He is also Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as The Legal Adviser for the Department of State from 2005–2009, as Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council at the White House from 2001–2005, and as Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1997–2001.
The U.S. has more to gain by participating in convention deliberations than by staying out.
By HENRY KISSINGER, GEORGE SHULTZ, JAMES BAKER III, COLIN POWELL AND CONDOLEEZZA RICE
The Convention of the Law of the Sea is again under consideration by the U.S. Senate. If the U.S. finally becomes party to this treaty, it will be a boon for our national security and economic interests. U.S. accession will codify our maritime rights and give us new tools to advance national interests.
The convention’s primary functions are to define maritime zones, preserve freedom of navigation, allocate resource rights, establish the certainty necessary for various businesses that depend on the sea, and protect the marine environment. Flaws in the treaty regarding deep-seabed mining, which prevented President Ronald Reagan from supporting it, were fixed in 1994. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have supported ratification, as do Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, because it is in the best interest of our nation. Yet the U.S. remains one of the few major countries not party to the convention.
The treaty provides substantial economic benefits to the U.S. It accords coastal states the right to declare an “Exclusive Economic Zone” where they have exclusive rights to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, living and nonliving resources extending 200 nautical miles seaward from their shoreline. Our nation’s exclusive zone would be larger than that of any country in the world—covering an area greater than the landmass of the lower 48 states. In addition, the zone can be extended beyond 200 nautical miles if certain geological criteria are met; this has significant potential benefits where the U.S.’s continental shelves may be as broad as 600 miles, such as off Alaska, where vast natural resources lie.
As the world’s pre-eminent maritime power with one of the longest coastlines, the U.S. has more than any other country to gain—and to lose—based on how the convention’s terms are interpreted and applied. By becoming party to the treaty, we would strengthen our capacity to influence deliberations and negotiations involving other nations’ attempts to extend their continental boundaries.
The U.S. currently has no input into international deliberations over rights to the Arctic, where rich energy and mineral resources are found more than 200 nautical miles from any country’s shoreline. Russia has placed its flag on the North Pole’s ocean floor. This is a largely symbolic act, but the part of the Arctic Ocean claimed by Russia could hold oil and gas deposits equal to about 20% of the world’s current oil and gas reserves.
As a non-party to the treaty, the U.S. has limited options for disputing such claims and is stymied from taking full advantage of resources that could be under U.S. jurisdiction. Lack of participation in the convention also jeopardizes economic opportunities associated with commercial deep-sea mining operations in international waters beyond exclusive economic zones—opportunities now pursued by Canadian, Australian and German firms.
Some say it’s good enough to protect our navigational interests through customary international law, and if that approach fails then we can use force or threaten to do so. But customary law is vague and doesn’t provide a strong foundation for critical national security rights. What’s more, the use of force can be risky and costly. Joining the convention would put our vital rights on a firmer legal basis, gaining legal certainty and legitimacy as we operate in the world’s largest international zone.
The continuing delay of U.S. accession to the convention compromises our nation’s authority to exercise our sovereign interest, jeopardizes our national and economic security, and limits our leadership role in international ocean policy.
Our planet’s environment is changing, and there is an increasing need to access resources responsibly. We can expect significant change and resulting economic benefit as the Arctic opens and delivers potentially extraordinary economic benefit to our country. Our coastline, one of the longest in the world, will increase.
These changes and the resulting economic effects are the substance of serious international deliberations of which we are not a part. Time moves on and we are not at the table. This is a serious problem and a significant cost for future generations of Americans.
Maritime claims not only in the Arctic but throughout the world are becoming more contentious. As aggressive maritime behavior increases, the U.S. military has become more, not less, emphatic on the need to become party to this treaty. Current and past military leaders are firmly behind accession, because while nothing in the convention restricts or prohibits our military activity, it is the best process for resolving disputes.
We have been on the sidelines long enough. Now is the time to get on the field and lead.
The authors all have served as secretary of State in Republican administrations.
Read the original article here.
By Frank Gaffney – Tuesday, 05 Jun 2012 03:08 PM
In recent days, top U.S. cabinet officers have traveled around the world on high-profile diplomatic missions. Ironically, in the process of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Arctic Circle and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s travels in Asia, they both undercut the case for the United Nations’ controversial Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) — a case they had jointly made prior to departing in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mrs. Clinton took part in a meeting of the Arctic Council, whose eight members have territory in that region. Of these, just five — Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark’s Greenland and the United States — actually have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, and therefore are able to claim rights to the resources offshore.
To be sure, the secretary of State used the occasion of her joining the other Arctic nations for the purpose of forging a new region-wide search-and-rescue (S&R) agreement to express the Obama administration’s commitment to LOST. She assured her colleagues that the president is determined to overcome opposition in the Senate and the country in order to get the treaty ratified.
Still, this S&R agreement suggests the obvious: It is far easier to achieve understandings in a group of eight — or, better yet, five — nations that have similar, if not identical, interests and a shared understanding of the stakes, than among a group of 150-plus nations, most of whom do not.
If that is true for an accord governing assistance to downed planes and ships lost at sea, it surely is the case when it comes to the disposition of potentially many billions of dollars worth of undersea oil and gas deposits.
Meanwhile, our Defense secretary was off in Asia trying to shore up America’s alliances in the region without actually saying that China is a threat that needs to be countered there. So he eschewed the president’s much-touted strategic “pivot” from the Middle East and South Asia to the South China Sea — supposedly involving a move in force to parry the PRC’s aspirations for hegemony.
Instead, Mr. Panetta employed less offensive terms like “rebalancing” and made commitments about a future U.S. presence in the theater that were deeply discounted in light of ongoing, and forthcoming, sharp cuts in defense spending.
It happens that Secretary Panetta’s enthusiasm for the Law of the Sea Treaty tracks with Team Obama’s public efforts to low-ball the dangers posed by China’s increasingly aggressive behavior toward our Asian friends and allies, and its growing capacity to act coercively due to its growing military capabilities.
Panetta and, surprisingly, even senior Navy and other military officers who should know better seem to think that if only the United States were a party to LOST, international law would tame the Chinese dragon.
As one of the nation’s most astute China hands, Gordon Chang, noted recently in his column at World Affairs Journal: “Although Beijing ratified the [LOST] pact in June 1996, it continues to issue maps claiming the entire South China Sea. That claim is, among other things, incompatible with the treaty’s rules. It’s no wonder Beijing notified the U.N. in 2006 that it would not accept international arbitration of its sovereignty claims.”
Just as common sense argues for using bilateral or, at most, five-party forums to establish arrangements governing the Arctic Ocean’s resources, it strongly militates against the United States allowing itself to be bound to a treaty whose core provisions (i.e., those governing limitations on territorial claims and mandatory dispute resolutions) are already being serially violated by Communist China.
On May 9, Secretary Panetta nonetheless asserted that “By moving off the sidelines, by sitting at the table of nations that have acceded to this treaty, we can defend our interests, we can lead the discussions, we will be able to influence those treaty bodies that develop and interpret the Law of the Sea.”
That is simply not so if, as is true of the LOST’s various institutions, we would have but one seat among many, and no certainty that we can decisively “influence bodies that develop and interpret the law of the sea.”
In fact, thanks to the rigged-game nature of those institutions, such bodies can be relied upon to hamstring us — by, for example, applying environmental regulations over which we have no control to our Navy’s anti-submarine warfare exercises and our domestic emissions into inland air and water that migrates to the international oceans.
Meanwhile, the Chinese will get away with choosing which rules they will abide by and which they won’t.
Mr. Chang puts it this way: “[China] is . . . a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but remains a notorious nuclear proliferator, and it is a member of the World Trade Organization, yet brazenly disregards its trade obligations. And U.N. sanctions? China openly violates those too, even though it is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.”
In short, the Obama administration wants senators to suspend common sense and ignore real and legitimate concerns about the deleterious impact of the Law of the Sea Treaty on our sovereignty, economic interests and potentially even the national security. Will 34 Senators have enough common sense to just say “No”?
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times, and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.
Read the original article here.
Clinton Urges Passage of Law of Sea Treaty
Written by Bruce Walker – Friday, 25 May 2012
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a treaty which has never been ratified by the United States since it was proposed several decades ago. The Obama administration has been working to get the treaty ratified through the United States Senate. Secretary of State Clinton recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
I am well aware that this treaty does have determined opposition, limited, but nevertheless quite vociferous. And it is unfortunate because it is opposition based in ideology and mythology, not in facts, evidence, or the consequences of our continuing failure to accede to the treaty.
Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma expressed concern that the treaty would take royalty income away from the United States for oil, gas and minerals extracted beyond the established 200-mile limit established for exploration and extraction by coastal nations. This wealth may be vast. Although oil and gas have been taken out of ocean floors for quite a while, the potential to acquire manganese (with large quantities of high-grade iron), gold, copper, uranium, and even small diamonds suitable for many industrial purposes has scarcely been touched, although the mineral wealth in deep chasms of the ocean as well as wealth in sea water itself, could run into trillions of dollars.
UNCLOS has a collectivist/redistributionist tilt which is pretty explicitly intended to help the “have not” nations through an assessment of the wealth extracted by the “have” nations — the latter, of course, including the United States. This would be in the form of an international tax on American business, a precedent that Inhofe felt might be unconstitutional and definitely would be bad policy. Senator Inhofe explained his concerns:
The problem is outside of the 200 nautical miles [offshore], whether we say it’s an arrangement or a tax — I think it’s a tax, since it costs money. I’ve read the work of the U.S. Interagency Extended Continental Shelf Task Force and the briefs and sources there talking about how to quantify the amount of money we would be losing. This is the first time in history that an international organization — the U.N. in this case — would possess taxing authority over this country.
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina also asked why our nation needed the treaty at all. The U.S. Navy has more than enough power to protect free commerce in the oceans, which it has done for decades:
On one hand I think we’re arguing that we need this for our military to operate freely around the world in a rules-based system, and then I hear the treaty allows us on the military or defense front to completely opt-out of this thing anytime we want. So, why do we need to get into all of this in order to operate our navy as we have for years around the world?
There is also concern about the courts which would rule on violations of the UNCLOS treaty. The courts would not be the traditional maritime courts that nations have established over the centuries as fair ways of resolving issues on the high seas. Instead, they would be constructed by the United Nations, which many Americans believe has a very poor record of being objective and just. Beyond the obvious problems inherent in the operations of this new international judicial system, the justified perception of a biased court would discourage companies with the expertise to bring forth the riches from the ocean floors from doing so.
There is some real concern that these international courts could even prevent U.S. naval forces from operating in the oceans of the world without the sanction of these new courts, raising the possibility of sovereignty over American naval forces moving into the hands of anti-American internationalists at the UN.
Inhofe and DeMint are not the only Republicans who have opposed the UNCLOS treaty. President Reagan rejected the treaty over concerns that America would be surrendering sovereignty to the United Nations. The terms were later renegotiated, first by President Clinton and then by President Bush, but opposition in the Senate has been so strong that it has never even been brought to a vote in the upper chamber. The Constitution, of course, requires that two thirds of the Senate must vote to ratify a treaty, and it is telling that President Obama, even when his party had a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate, never tried to have the treaty ratified.
Op-Ed: Still lost on the Law of the Sea Treaty?
Reagan wouldn’t sign it, and what was bad for the U.S. then is bad now.
By Edwin Meese III – June 5, 2012
President Reagan so strongly opposed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that he didn’t just not sign the treaty. He very publicly refused to sign it. He also dismissed the State Department staff that helped negotiate it. And in case anyone didn’t get the message, he sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld on a globe-trotting mission to explain his opposition and urge other nations to follow suit.
How odd, then, to hear proponents of the convention (also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty, or LOST) insist that Reagan would gladly sign on today. To hear them tell it, the Gipper’s reservations were few, minor and subsequently taken care of in a 1994 agreement now incorporated in the treaty.
But with the treaty again under consideration by the Senate, it’s important to note that Reagan’s objections to it were anything but trivial. In his view, articulated long before he entered the Oval Office, its fatal flaw was as great as it was simple: LOST posed a direct threat to American sovereignty.
In a 1978 radio address titled “Ocean Mining,” he asserted that “no nat[ional] interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth’s surface over to the Third World.” He added: “No one has ruled out the idea of a [Law of the Sea] treaty — one which makes sense — but after long years of fruitless negotiating, it became apparent that the underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly were looking for a free ride at our expense, again.”
What had begun as an effort to codify certain navigational rights had, during the course of extended negotiations, morphed into a “constitution for the oceans” that would push nations further along the road to a world government. Of particular concern was Part XI of the treaty, which created supra-national executive, legislative and judicial mechanisms to regulate the mineral resources of the world’s oceans.
One of these institutions — the International Seabed Authority — is assigned the power to regulate deep seabed mining and development on the extended continental shelf. In return for “assuring” those rights, the ISA would receive royalties from gas and oil exploration. Those revenues would then be redistributed to poorer countries.
Those who claim that the U.S. is out of step with LOST need to know that in 1983, after rejecting the treaty, Reagan issued an “ocean policy statement” affirming the U.S. intent to abide by most of the pact’s provisions, such as navigational rights. After all, most of them merely recapitulate rights established by customary international law. Reagan’s statement also proclaimed that the U.S. had a 200-nautical-mile “exclusive economic zone” in conformity with the treaty. No foreign nation has challenged the existence or breadth of that U.S. zone.
The statement specifically took exception to the treaty’s deep seabed mining provisions. Some have claimed those provisions were the only ones that troubled Reagan. But his diary entry of June 29, 1982, makes it clear that the problems went far beyond that: “Decided in [National Security Council] meeting — will not sign ‘Law of the Sea’ treaty even without seabed mining provisions.”
After taking office, the Reagan administration tried for months to negotiate extensive changes in the draft treaty. But the effort failed to produce a document the president could sign.
The man who tried to renegotiate the treaty was Ambassador James Malone. In 1984, he explained why Reagan considered LOST to be unacceptable: “The treaty’s provisions were intentionally designed to promote a new world order — a form of global collectivism … that seeks ultimately the redistribution of the world’s wealth through a complex system of manipulative central economic planning and bureaucratic coercion.”
Eleven years later, Malone declared: “This remains the case today.” Despite the claims that the 1994 agreement “fixed” the offending deep seabed provisions, the “new and improved” pact remained fundamentally objectionable.
As senators ponder the treaty yet again, they would do well to consider the question: What, exactly, do we gain by joining LOST? In the most recent Senate hearing, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) asked Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs: “Does failure to ratify this treaty … in any way compromise the ability of the United States to project force around the world, to support and sustain our allies…? Are we at risk as a result of failure to ratify this treaty?”
Dempsey’s response boiled down to “no.”
“Our ability to project force will not deteriorate,” he said, if we refrain from ratifying the treaty.
Why risk sacrificing U.S. sovereignty under the treaty if it makes us no more secure? After all, what initially established and still ensures freedom of navigation under international law is naval power. To secure navigational freedom, territorial rights and all national and international interests addressed in LOST, we must maintain the strength of theU.S. Navy, not look to an anachronistic pact that is intent on advancing a one-world agenda.
Edwin Meese III, U.S. attorney general in the Reagan administration, is chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
Read the original article here.