Sea Treaty

Sea Treaty


LOST operates under the assumption that any minerals in the ocean floor constitute the “common heritage” of all mankind — and therefore cannot be the property of any one individual, company, or nation.

This treaty is an affront to American national sovereignty. It would give the United Nations authority over much of the world’s oceans, including the power to regulate and tax deep-sea mining, and redistribute the proceeds to Third World governments. Moreover, its “hortatory language” provisions are a loaded weapon that activist trial lawyers could easily wield to force the U.S. to adopt laws that the American people’s elected representatives otherwise would not.

law-of-the-sea-treatyHere’s a summary of anti-ratification arguments:

1. LOST threatens U. S. sovereignty. Not just a little or around the edges, but fundamentally. Once the U. S. became a party to the treaty, any number of issues could be adjudicated by a LOST tribunal. It is not clear what the limits are on the issues that could be taken up by LOST. Jurisdiction over anything that affects the oceans directly or indirectly could be asserted. The majority of members of the tribunal adjudicating any particular issue are almost certainly going to be hostile to U. S. interests. Tribunal decisions cannot be appealed. Unlike every other country in the world, those decisions could be enforced in U. S. federal courts against the federal government.

2. LOST would be a big step toward United Nations global governance. The treaty’s reach extends far beyond international issues and disagreements into nations’ internal policies on a wide array of issues. The treaty’s structure is designed to replace national decision making with UN decision making on these issues.

3. For the first time, the United Nations would have international taxing authority through LOST. Enough said.

4. LOST would accomplish backdoor implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and far beyond.

•National sovereignty: The treaty creates a new UN agency with its own dispute resolution tribunal. However, should the US stop its current compliance with the US-negotiated laws of the Convention, the U.S. could not be taken to the Law of the Sea Tribunal since the U.S. has indicated that it would choose binding arbitration rather than availing itself of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

•The Environment: Some of the Convention’s conservation provisions would provide new avenues for non-US environmental organizations to affect domestic US environmental policies by pursuing legal action in both US and international courts. In addition, requirements that nations either harvest their entire allowable catch in certain areas or give the surplus to other nations could result in mandated overfishing.

•Taxation: The license fees and taxes levied on economic activities in the deep seabed Area by the ISA would be, in effect, a form of ‘taxation without representation’. Citizens would be indirectly taxed through business and governmental activities in the Area.

•Economics: Businesses can already exploit resources from the international area; ratifying the treaty would force them to buy licenses for that right and pay taxes on the proceeds.

•Navigation rights not threatened: One of the treaty’s main selling points, legally recognized navigation rights on, over, and under straits, is unnecessary because these rights are not currently threatened by law or by any military capable of opposing the US.

•Harm to de-militarizing operations: The treaty would for the first time require all unmanned ocean vessels, including submarines used for mine detection to protect ships exercising the right of innocent passage, to navigate on the surface in territorial waters – effectively eliminating their value for such purposes.

• No control over funding: The treaty gives a blank check to the UN, funded by the US. The US would have no control over how the money is used.

• Eminent domain: The treaty applies eminent domain to intellectual property giving the UN the power to seize technology and share it with

potentially enemy states.

• Lack of need: The U.S. already honors almost all the provisions of the treaty. For practical purposes, there is no pressing need to ratify it that outweighs the negatives of the remaining provisions. Any perceived benefit of an improved U.S. image world-wide is likely to be illusory.