published Friday, August 10th, 2012

Drown the Law of the Sea

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) could sink America. That's a fect that Ronald Reagan recognized a generation ago.

When President Reagan opposed LOST, it was primarily due to one major factor: An International Seabed Authority (ISA) was created that would redistribute America's royalty wealth from our natural resources and limit our sovereign decisions about activities on the deep seabed. Just imagine the United Nations for all the world's waterways.

Through this international governing body, the U.S. would have one vote among 162 participating nations ranging from China to the Congo to Croatia, adhering to the 320-article treaty. The ISA's website describes itself as "an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea..."

Many of the participating nations don't even have a coastline or any navy to speak of.

Thankfully, LOST is expected to see no action in the Senate — where constitutionally, all treaties are required to receive a two-thirds majority vote for ratification — until after the November election. The Democratically-controlled Senate, led by Democrat Harry Reid, seems to have been rebuffed by a group of 34 Senators, who've expressed their opposition to the treaty based on these facts:

• LOST is not necessary. Through customary international practice, the U.S. has navigation rights and freedoms that must be observed by other nations.

• The ISA, located in Jamaica, is staffed with those drawing tax-free salaries for an assembly, a council, commissions and various committees, all funded by member nations.

• The ISA has total jurisdiction over the ocean floor with its rich supply of oil, natural gas and other resources.

• Despite claims the U.S. would have "veto power," the treaty's design limits the application of that power.

• The ISA would have the authority to levy international taxes with funds used, as the treaty asserts, for "the benefit of mankind as a whole."

The idea that 70 percent of the earth's surface could fall under the rule of nations that do not support democratic freedoms and human rights is of deep concern.

Let's hope that November's election stocks the Senate with prudent lawmakers who are willing to remain steadfast regarding America's right to determine what maritime policies are in our best economic, strategic and national security interests.

The last thing the United States needs is a global bureaucracy dictated by 161 other nations — including our enemies — deciding what can and cannot be done in the waters off our coasts.

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moon4kat said...

Not enough information. Please tell us the range of the proposed treaty relative to our coasts. Three miles off-shore? Two hundred miles? Are you saying we (USA) own, and want to militarily control, all of the planet's seabed?

August 10, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.
CaitlynA said...

The international seabed authority was established to manage development of mineral resources beyond the EEZ and continental shelf to which all countries had rights, but for which no nation could claim exclusive jurisdiction. The Authority provides international recognition of exclusive access and title to recovered minerals. These are essential to any mining company and cannot be provided by any country acting on its own.

The International Seabed Authority has been in operation for 18 years and has 162 members. It is recognized as the only international organization competent to sort out matters of exclusive rights and title to minerals beyond national jurisdiction. The US can't stop the Authority by failing to sign the Convention - we only abdicate the unique authority we would have as the only permanent member of the decision-making Council.

The Authority is successful because in 1994 a treaty was adopted that incorporated fixes to the six issues Ronald Reagan identified in 1982 as both necessary and sufficient to gain his support for US ratification. Now there are 17 operations conducting, or preparing to conduct, exploration leading to commercial development, and none of them are American.

The staff of the Authority numbers just 37 people, with about half being local hires at local pay scales. The US share of the full costs of the authority would be about the same as the cost of the staff of a single US senator - but the benefits to the US in profit and taxes once commercial development begins would be in the billions of dollars.

By joining the US will have veto power over adoption of rules and regulations (including royalty rates), distribution plans for funds received by the authority, proposed amendments to the sea be provisions and any other potential economic programs. We can ensure that the implementation of Reagan's fixes to the Convention are honored far into the future.

The Authority meets for only 10 days a year to approve exploration licenses, draft rules and regulations and oversee the work of the secretariat. Last month, itl approved 5 new requests for exclusive rights to seabed deposits, including commercial operations from the UK and Belgium.

Ronald Reagan wanted the US to have a domestic seabed mining industry to protect our economy against interruption of foreign supplies of critical minerals. This is even more important now that we have found that deep seabed nodules are sources of rare earth elements as well as nickel, cobalt and manganese. By remaining outside the LOS Convention, the United States is quashing Ronald Reagan's vision of a domestic critical minerals industry in spite of having achieved all of Reagan's criteria for a satisfactory convention that he, himself, said he would support.

August 10, 2012 at 12:18 p.m.
moon4kat said...

Caitlyn, thanks for that. Your comment is far more informative that the FP editorial.

August 10, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
gngriffin said...

In response to the above posting, it is worth noting that every living Republican secretary of state, from Henry Kissinger to Condileezza Rice, has urged the Senate to provide advice and consent for this treaty this year, largely because it will empower the United States to counter growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

August 10, 2012 at 10:23 p.m.
fairmon said...

Don't expect a vote or any action from this do nothing senate thanks to the incoherent H. Reid. I hope several are replaced regardless of their party.

August 11, 2012 at 8:17 a.m.
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