Proponents of the United Nation's Law of the Sea Treaty
(LOST) came up with a brilliant idea. Led by the Chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic presidential candidate Joe
Biden, they hoped to celebrate the 24th of October - also known as UN
Day - by having that panel rubber-stamp LOST.
Fortunately, one of the Senate's most knowledgeable and
determined opponents of the Treaty, Republican Sen. David Vitter of
Louisiana, exercised his right to defer its consideration, from the
committee business meeting scheduled for Wednesday to at least the next
one. Whether this will amount to more than a fleeting stay-of-execution
depends on how many other Senators - and their constituents - become
aware of the implications of making the day in this manner of the United
Nations and affiliated organizations.
Sen. Vitter is certainly doing his part. He has asked for additional
hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee, offering an opportunity
for more witnesses to explain LOST's myriad shortcomings. He has also
provided a powerful briefing to many of his colleagues, prompting others
to take up the cause.
Another leading critic of the Treaty, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Republican of
Oklahoma, has asked for hearings before two committees on which he
serves. Both the Armed Services and Environment and Public Works
Committees would have their respective jurisdictions dramatically
affected by LOST and the implementing legislation sure to follow from
The same should certainly be occurring in at least six other committees.
For example, the Finance Committee surely has an interest in the
repercussions of LOST- established precedents for international
taxation. The Judiciary Committee should consider how this accord will
further the practice of subordinating domestic law to international
The Intelligence Committee - whose Democratic chairman Jay Rockefeller
generally treats with extreme skepticism what Bush Administration
officials tell him - should obtain a "second opinion" on the latters'
assurances that U.S. intelligence will not be impaired by LOST.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs would have a two-fer, due 1)
to the fact that LOST may require, among other things, the compromise of
sensitive information about domestic industries in the name of
environmental regulation, and 2) the growing allegations of corruption
and incompetence in LOST's utterly unaccountable International Seabed
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee should want to ascertain
whether any American company is going to be willing to explore the ocean
floors' resources if, as the price of doing so, they have to give
sensitive data and technology to international competitors. The
Commerce Committee should have its own concerns about the prospective
compromise of U.S. technologies and the Treaty's other detrimental
effects on our competitiveness (such as its socialist, redistributionist
agenda, its imposition of the Luddite "precautionary principle" - which
precludes innovation unless it can be proven harmless - and its adoption
of European, rather than U.S., industrial standards).
What is certain is, if these committees fail to perform due
diligence on the Law of the Sea Treaty, the United States could well
soon find itself creating - and confronting - a UN on steroids.
LOST proponents tend to scoff at such a prospect. They
point to the relatively small size of the Kingston, Jamaica-based
international bureaucracy that has operated the International Seabed
Authority in obscurity over the past twenty-five years. This is a
deflection, as misleading as it is deliberate.
The truth of the matter is that the UN and its admirers are
so keen on U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Treaty precisely because
it will transform that so-called "constitution of the seas" into an
actual charter for a new supranational order. As with the United
Nations, American membership will infuse millions of dollars into LOST
agencies' budgets, as we pick up a quarter of the tab. Worse, the
United States will lend legitimacy and real power to the Treaty's
mandatory dispute resolution mechanisms by subjecting itself, its
businesses and taxpayers to their jurisdiction.
We are on notice, moreover, that - once these UN-affiliated
arbitral panels come to exercise authority over our affairs - the
international plaintiffs bar will be exploiting these vehicles as
mechanisms for doing just that. Some have indicated they intend to use
LOST to impose the Kyoto Protocol. Others clearly envision suing the
U.S. Navy to force it to conform to vast new environmental and other
obligations under the Treaty. Still others have not specified their
targets, instead urging restraint in filing such suits until the U.S.
becomes a party, lest our ratification be jeopardized by prematurely
revealing the true costs of this treaty.
It would be one thing if Americans were being brought into
the decision to make the UN's day by subordinating our constitutional,
representative form of government and our sovereignty to the dictates of
international bureaucrats and the generally hostile nations who
typically call their tune. Instead, the Senate's Democratic leadership
seems determined to secure LOST's ratification by running silent,
running deep - preventing the needed hearings, silencing the critics and
otherwise suppressing debate.
So far, among the major presidential candidates, only the
GOP's former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has aligned himself
squarely with Ronald Reagan in opposing the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Unless the rest of the field promptly joins him, they will share
responsibility for, and have to live with the consequences of, a UN on