Why This Is A Dangerous TreatyI first became aware of the Law of the Sea Treaty when it was conceived during the Reagan years in 1982, and it seemed like a horrible idea at the time. The idea was that the world’s oceans contain a vast amount of mineral wealth, but because only the rich world has the resources to exploit it, a treaty should be passed to divide this wealth equally among all countries.
The way the treaty works is it divides the ocean floor into zones. Internal waters (like a bay) and up to 12 miles from shore are considered territorial water and are treated as if they are dry land. A country’s sovereignty is complete within that zone (the old zone was three miles). The next 12 miles are considered a continuous zone. Within that zone, countries may impose laws related to customs, taxation, immigration and pollution, but cannot stop navigation. The next 200 miles are considered an exclusive economic zone. Here the state has some rights, but foreign countries may lay pipe or cable and navigate freely. Beyond that are international waters.
This may sound harmless, but that’s not all the treaty does. The treaty includes 320 articles and is over 200 pages long. It establishes a complex regulatory regime that applies to almost every commercial and government activity related to the oceans. This includes the regulation of shipping, the regulation of drug interdiction, and even the regulation of manufacturing conducted in coastal waterways. Moreover, it gives the U.N. unprecedented taxing and permitting authority over international waters. Essentially, this is a U.N. takeover of oceans.
Through these regulatory schemes, the U.N. could impose things like the Kyoto Protocol (on global warming) through the back door, could forced U.S. citizens to pay energy taxes to other nations, and the U.N. could claim the power to regulate U.S. military actions.
Ronald Reagan refused to sign this treaty for similar reasons. The extension of the territorial limit from 3 miles to 12 miles meant U.S. submarines and intelligence ships could be put in danger. He felt the regulatory scheme would stop undersea mining as permits to mine require an application fee of $250,000 ($500,000 at the time), plus the corporation must pay an annual fee of $1 millions to the U.N.’s International Seabed Authority, plus they would need to pay up to 7% of profits, plus they would need to share mining and navigational technology. Moreover, the decision on whether or not to grant such a license would belong to the Seabed Authority, which is controlled by Third World countries. This would give them veto power over all such activities. Reagan believed this was set up to discourage deep sea mining to protect the mining industries on land, which tend to operate in Third World countries. He also objected that the mandatory dispute resolution procedures bound Americans to the decisions of foreign judges and harmed American sovereignty.
Clinton tried to pass this treaty and essentially failed, as did Bush II and Obama. John Kerry has been pushing this in the Senate.
Why It’s DeadSince two-thirds of the Senate must support a treaty before it can become law, it only takes 24 Senators to stop a treaty. Thirty-four Republicans have now come out in opposition to the Law of the Sea Treaty, which means it’s effectively dead. The charge was led by Tea Party conservative Jim DeMint, who was joined by GOP liberal Rob Portman of Ohio, conservative Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, cow-tipper Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and 29 other Republicans. John “my friends” McCain was on the wrong side, as always. Since the treaty cannot get the two-thirds vote it needs, it’s dead, Jim. . . for now.
Who Supports It And WhyNaturally, only Democrats (and McCain) supported this thing, right? Actually, no. The American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce both supported it. API is Big Oil’s lobbying arm and the Chamber of Commerce is Big Business’s lobbying arm. How could they possibly support this, you ask? Doesn’t the loss of sovereignty, the risk to the US Military, the imposition of international taxes mean anything them?
Well. . . no. Their only concern is profit. And by getting all these minerals safely regulated by an international tribunal, they can then go about making money by extracting them. What about the taxes and fees? Well, that’s really your problem, not theirs, because corporations don’t pay taxes. . . their customers pay taxes.
If you ever needed a more clear example of how little the United States of America and you mean to these companies, this is it. They will happily sell you and your rights to a United Nations tribunal dominated by corrupt Third-World governments just so they can make sure they get the monopoly rights on these minerals. Think about that the next time some oil company or some mineral company or any other multinational company comes to you and says they need some law to help them.
These people are not our friends.
P.S. Don't forget, it's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site.